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January 18, 2024

Motherhood is a Loving-Kindness Meditation.

 

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I recently watched a TikTok video from spiritual director Brittney Hartley, where she talked about how we have been shown spirituality from a masculine perspective for so long.

Men have long been the ones to lead and speak in churches. We are told to meditate more and pray more (which is not necessarily bad advice), but traditionally, men aren’t used to being the nurturing ones. In a heterosexual couple, the father is often used for play while the mother is the comforter.

In The Manager Mom Epidemic, author Thomas W. Phelan cites that even women who work take on the majority of childcare tasks. We are often left with less time to care for ourselves, which means we might as well forget fitting in spiritual practices.

Traditional spiritual practices are often difficult to implement with small children and babies, and as moms, our brains are not functioning well from constant sleep deprivation. Psychoanalyst and parent coach Erica Komisar says it’s unrealistic to expect to get good sleep until your child is over the age of five. And lack of sleep makes it difficult to focus.

So how do we work on our spirituality with littles using us a playground all day? Honestly, we may find here that we are practicing spirituality more than we think.

Hartley, who goes by @nononsensespirituality, uses an example of cleaning up poop at night for a sick child. We find ourselves, getting up over and over again and cleaning poop and comforting our sick baby. Our first instinct is to be infuriated by being woken up again and again. Obviously, we need our sleep to function well and this kid is just not understanding! But then, we find ourselves focused on empathy and love.

This is loving-kindness meditation to the next level. And it’s way more difficult than waking up at 4 a.m. to meditate on a spiritual retreat. There are no breaks as a mom. We’re on 24/7, even when we’re at work and are called to pick up our sick child from school. And as moms, we are always thinking or worrying about our children, especially when they are miles away out of the comfort of our arms where we know they’re safest.

However, as moms, we have a unique opportunity to transform these tough moments into our spiritual practice. Every meal can be made with love and care, stirring in our intentions while showing a little toddler how to bake. Every diaper can be changed with feelings of awe at our child’s existence and the joy of seeing their little toys and chunky thighs. Nighttime wakings can transform into a meditation on learning to think thoughts of compassion rather than anger. We can speak words of affirmation daily to our children, and again and again to ourselves.

I have a four-month-old baby boy and a three-year-old daughter, and it has been a season of difficulty for me, learning to juggle life outnumbered by kids. But it’s also been a season of gaining confidence in myself.

I encourage and congratulate myself in every parenting challenge, trying to focus more on the good than the bad. Sure, I could be on a spiritual retreat, or, as my husband desired, living life as a monk, but the path to enlightenment comes through conquering our minds in these difficult moments: forgiving ourselves for blow ups, learning to repair quickly, and speaking the same words of love to ourselves that we choose to use with our children.

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