There I was, stuck on the couch with a sleeping babe in my arms. Naps are hard to come by these days, and I wasn’t so sure I wanted to disturb the peace when my six year old daughter declared that she wanted to bake cookies.
“Go ahead,” I said.
“By myself?” she asked.
“Sure,” I answered.
Her face lit up as she turned back toward the kitchen, and I noted that she was walking about two inches taller.
The sound of clatter that came from the kitchen was a sure sign that my daughter had begun to gather the supplies that she was going to need to bake cookies. While I sat, and wondered what might happen next, I stared down at my little one slumbering sweetly against my chest. With him being a little past his second birthday, those moments were becoming few and far between. I relaxed into the couch and soaked in the moment.
It wasn’t long until my daughter reappeared by my side with the cookie mix box in her hand.
“The box says I need one egg,” she said as she pointed to the picture of one egg on the back of the box. “Should I get an egg out of the refrigerator?”
“Yup,” I replied. “The box says you need one egg.”
Away she skipped, back to the kitchen. I heard the refrigerator door open, close again, followed by the sound of more clatter. It felt good to just sit, and let go of what might, or might not, be happening in the kitchen just out of my sight. It felt good to hold on to my littlest one just a little bit longer. It felt good to let go a little bit of the bigger one, giving her the opportunity to experience freedom and a sense of creating something all by herself.
“You could,” I replied. “But it might be easier to use the hand mixer.”
More clatter. Silence. Click. Silence. Click.
“What number should I put it on?” She asked.
“Start on low, and see what feels right for you.” I answered.
The sound of the hand mixer filled the room along with the clanking of the metal mixing bowl. At this point, my little one began to stir in his sleep. I heard the cookie sheets come out of the cabinet and saw them plopped on the table. I watched as my daughter arranged everything she needed to complete her cookie-making task. I noticed that as the process continued, fewer questions came. As I relaxed and let go of my expectations, I saw her confidence soar. My daughter looked in her element as she scooped and rolled the cookies between her palms and placed them onto the cookie sheets. I noticed how sweet this moment was and I allowed myself to make a deep mental imprint of it in my mind.
So very often I find myself stressed at my own attempts to keep the peace with my children. Had I been at my daughter’s side throughout this experience, I would have given advice and instructions. Although my efforts would have been well meaning, they would have taken from her the experience of finding her own rhythm and space in her experience. At the very same time, I would have missed out on the opportunity to sit in silence and practice my ability to let go.
Letting go can be hard, especially when it comes to my children. As a parent, I believe it is my job to guide my children as best I can along their path toward self discovery. There are many times when I find it difficult to let go of my own expectations and what I want to see my children do, eat, wear, and act like. However, it is in these very times when I find myself grasping tightly on to thoughts that tend to be riddled with fear, irritation, and anxiety…not the feelings I want my family to be centered around. As uncomfortable as these feelings may cause me to feel at times, I consider them my true blessings. These are the times when I know that I need to stop whatever it is that I am doing, and focus within myself. It is me, not my children, who needs to make an adjustment. Each and every time, I am given the opportunity to let go just a little bit more and to release any fears and pre-conceived notions that I carry within myself.
“Letting go doesn’t mean we don’t care. Letting go doesn’t mean we shut down.
Letting go means we stop trying to force outcomes and make people behave.
It means we give up resistance to the way things are, for the moment.
It means we stop trying to do the impossible–controlling that which
we cannot–and instead, focus on what is possible–which usually means
taking care of ourselves. And we do this in gentleness, kindness,
and love, as much as possible.”
In the end, those cookies turned out perfect…the best ones ever made, in fact. My daughter felt so proud of herself and let everyone who came in sight of them taste just how wonderful they truly were. Important experiences were created that day aside from those cookies, including happiness, peace, and connection. And those are the feelings in which I want my family centered.
A Mama Mantra
I am happy.
I am here.
I am peaceful.
I am here.
I am letting go of my expectations.
I am here.
I am the best parent for my child(ren).
I am here.
You can use these words, or create ones just like it, to help keep your self centered in the rough times we all encounter in parenthood. Just remember to be easy on your self. Parenting is tough work. We all make mistakes and we all deserve to forgive ourselves. You are wonderful! You are amazing! You are the best parent for your child! Keep up the good work!
Lisa DeNardo is a mama, with a camera, trying to capture the little things in life. It is in these moments, which hold an unsurpassable amount of beauty and peace, where she finds the strength to grow and thrive as the individual she is. Lisa and her wonderful husband, and their four children, reside in southeastern Pennsylvania. More of Lisa’s daily contemplations can be found on her blog Earth Mama, as well as some thoughts on mindfulness at threading light.