If you’ve followed me much, maybe you’ve heard me say this already: motherhood brought me to my knees. Motherhood broke me open, and then brought me… sometimes kicking and screaming (literally)… through the muck of daily mothering to a fullness of selfhood I couldn’t have even begun to imagine at the beginning of the bumpy journey.
I was a walking list of risk factors for maternal depressive symptoms (often narrowly pigeon-holed as postpartum depression). Many hands, many ideas and much good guidance helped me navigate those baby, toddler and preschooler days… days that often seemed like molasses in their pace (they could be pretty sticky, too, come to think of it!)
Here are just two invaluable guiding concepts that saw me through.
What is wonder? I like to call it “curious simplicity” (simplicity is one of the seven principles that Parenting for Peace is woven around). It is a powerful shortcut into presence, which simply means being fully engaged “right here, right now” with your body, your thoughts and your feelings.
Presence isn’t just another of the seven P4P principles, it’s also a state scientifically proven to be a potent antidepressant. When we can become curious in a simple way about even the most mundane things in the course of our parenting day, we tap into delight and gratitude! It is akin to what my friend and mentor Joseph Chilton Pearce calls “living in constant astonishment.” The more you can do that, the more you will mine joy from the muck of daily mothering!
You can say, “Today I’m going to see everything anew — look at a tree as if I’ve never seen one. Open the closet as if I’ve never before seen a whole wall of clothes hanging for me to choose from.”
One helpful way to approach this is to imagine looking out at the world through your child’s eyes: everything is new and amazing through a child’s eyes. That sense of “Wow — water out of the tap!” or “Wow — text sent over phone lines through squeaky little noises!” brings you right into the moment (granted, who faxes anymore? But it is pretty amazing).
Dig in Where You Are
This comes from French philosopher Gustave Thibon — on a yellowed, weathered newsprint clipping I put on my bulletin board probably 20 years ago!
You feel you are hedged in; you dream of escape; but beware of mirages. Do not run or fly away in order to get free; rather dig into the narrow place which has been given you; you will find God there and everything. God does not float on your horizon, he sleeps in your substance. Vanity runs, love digs. If you fly away from yourself, your prison will run with you and will close in because of the wind of your flight; if you go deep down into yourself it will disappear in paradise.
Image: Leonid Mamchenkov through its Creative Common license