March 28, 2011

When You Stop Being a Parent, & Become Customer Service. ~ Carina Lyall

Photo: Gray Monk

When life gets busy, family is usually the first thing to suffer…

In 30 years, a lot has changed regarding my parenting priorities.

I am the oldest child in my family, with four younger siblings who are all grown up now. The memory I have of my mom is with one kid on her left hip, doing some cooking, cleaning etc. with her right hand. It feels so nice and secure to think of her that way, and that image of her. She was always doing something, and there was always one of us by her side. It was effective, and natural. It just had a certain kind of flow to it. She never really told us off, she just was. The fact that she now lives with uneven hips, is beside the point…

After having my own daughter I have found myself doing the very same thing. For the first year of my little one’s life, she was always on my hip. I had severe back problems, but it just felt so natural to put her there anyway. I think it is for most women. You have your child close to you, and can still get things done. Plus It keeps them calm.

As she is growing, I now notice certain phrases and words entering her conversations. She is starting to say things such as, “Not right now,” “Wait a minute,” “Two seconds,” and there are more. As I write this, and hear her say it I feel a little sting. I am teaching her those things, and so is our society. But mostly me really. I have removed her from my hip, and pushed her into a world of constant waiting. Putting her on hold. After being close to me, and being a part of what I do day to day, she is now standing in line waiting for some attention.

“I just have to finish this call, e-mail, t.v. show, cooking dinner and I’ll be right with you, honey.”

It must sound to her, like she is making a call to customer service. Maybe she is sometimes, her parents’ customer service line… “Please hold, your call is very important to us.” Do we even recall half of the times we ask our children to wait for our time?

Another paradox lies in the fact that I demand she be patient, and that comes from my own impatient being. My desire to get whatever I’m doing done first.

(Photo: Karin Dalziel)

I work as a mindfulness meditation teacher for a living, and teach presence—living in the now—to others. I have a blog where I write about integrating mindfulness into your everyday life. It is a big part of my life, yet I still sometimes find myself being curled up in all my to-do lists.

My family is the first to suffer when things get busy. Funny thing is that I am working so hard to give her and my family a good life, with a roof over our head and for them to be happy. There she is right in front of me asking me to give her exactly that with my presence. The fact that I, the mom, sometimes neglect to see that makes me really reflect on my parenting.

So can we live in today’s society, with all of our obligations and still give our children our full attention. Can we strip 80% of the “wait a second” moments out of our parenting? Could it be, that it is the call that could wait a minute? Can we pick up from here and be more mindful in our lives as parents?

It’s hard work indeed, doing “nothing.” It is like a shock to our system, but the benefits are amazing. The gratefulness from our children is all the proof we need. They are begging us to play, interact, eat their wooden cakes and drink make believe tea. To sit and watch them play are moments that we often miss, because when they are playing we hurry ourselves to get some work done. I believe we miss out on a lot of fun. I know I miss out on a lot of fun moments with her.

So, now her dolls are waiting for her. She is passing on the good stuff. She leaves them on the floor, runs to get something yelling, “l’ll be back in a minute!” And she is the image of me.

I hope that when she looks back at her childhood and the image of her mother, she will see me with a kid on my hip. That the waiting was only a little part of it, and that a present mother was what she had. The hectic everyday life was on occasion, and the natural flow and calmness was there even more. I hope she felt met, seen, and connected to her family and parents. That I stepped up, and taught her to pick up the dolls, and look them in the eye, give them big kisses and take them with her on her way.

What are we waiting for?

Carina Lyall is a trained MSBR, mindfulness teacher. She is based in Copenhagen, Denmark. She lives with her partner and daughter in the old redlight district, and lives life simply in a small apartment. She does courses for moms and moms to be, and has done for a few years now. She loves writing and blogging at www.carinalyall.com about meditation, lack of, and how it can be brought into an everyday life as a mom, partner, self-employed semi-normal woman. She is brutally honest, and a bit old fashioned she thinks…

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