I collapsed onto the couch in exhaustion from a long day of mothering two young boys. Many hours had been spent wiping noses, kissing boo boos, cleaning up messes, fetching snacks, the list could on and on. Yet, on this night, my tired heart felt full instead of drained from their need for me, as it often does after a long day.
I recently attended a parenting workshop called Love Beyond Limits: The Spiritual Practice of Parenting with Zen Buddhist priest and author Karen Maezen Miller. I carved out four hours of the weekend to escape the clutches of my adorable children in the hopes of learning how to be a better mom.
At this workshop, I learned many mindful practices from Miller, a personable teacher who passionately shares her wisdom. I left with a fresh perspective that was put to the test the moment that I returned home that afternoon. I opened the door to find a messy house, disheveled husband, and two rambunctious children who toppled me over with a hug when they greeted me at the door.
One particular moment from the workshop stayed with me the longest. Miller shared a lovely quote from the mystic poet Rumi: "Out beyond the ideas of the final way and the only way there is a dreamy field. I'll meet you there." My ears perked up the moment she spoke those words as I have treasured that quote for some time.
Apparently, philosophers often debate about where that dreamy field exists. Is it in the heavens, our hearts, our minds? Miller believes that field dwells in moments spent with our children. Perhaps it can be found early in the morning, when you hear a little voice calling out "Mama!?" and you meet your groggy-eyed child who smiles once he sees your face. I thought that was such a lovely notion.
Rumi's words echoed in my mind soon after the workshop as I pulled my dripping toddler out of the bathtub and wrapped him in a towel. Those moments before bedtime are usually all business for me as the end of the day draws near. We tarried a moment to play a game of peek a boo and laughter bounced off the bathroom walls when he peeked out at me from beneath the hooded towel. At that simple moment, it dawned on me that we were in that dreamy field.
That feeling followed me the next day as I put dishes in the dishwasher and my older son ran into the kitchen. "Mom, do you wanna hear me play a song?" he said hopefully, holding a guitar in his hand.
In the past, I would have shooed him off so that I could finish my task but I decided to give him my attention. I left the dirty dishes in the sink and sat on the couch while he strummed the chords of the guitar for a few moments. Our eyes met over the music and he sent the most loving smile my way. I felt that dreamy field all around us.
I find myself there often with my children now that I am aware that it exists. I know that these honest moments have always lingered in my home but I've been too busy to stop and relish in them. I still fall onto the couch in a tired heap at the end of the day, but now it is with a heart full gratitude instead of weariness.
By taking a few moments each day to enjoy that space with my children, I am a much more patient and peaceful Mama. I feel as if they've been waiting to meet me in the dreamy field for quite a while, I just finally decided to show up.
Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the demands of parenthood? Do you practice mindfulness day-to-day in your parenting? What simple moments do you treasure with your children? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.