My Current Parenting Mantra:
This Too Shall Pass
Hey, Practice families!
This is my final week of maternity leave, so I’ve written this note in advance and am currently offline and soaking up as much time as I can manage with these two, above. I’ll be fully back in the office on August 26. As my leave winds down, I’m feeling sentimental and acutely aware of how quickly the time has gone and how much both my boys have grown over the past few months. That awareness has shaped my behavior– because I am viewing the time with them as being brief, fleeting, and precious, I’m better able to be present in the moment and to tolerate the inevitable challenges as they arise (at least most of the time! ).
I have several friends who have had second babies at around the same time as me, and we’ve agreed that the best part of parenthood the second time through is that this time, you know that the challenging moments are temporary and transient. Shortly after my oldest son was born, there was a night during which he was completely inconsolable for hours on end. I remember being exhausted and tearful too, and thinking, “What have I done?! Is this now my life?!” But it passed– as these things always do– and as a second-time mom, it’s been easier to manage the tough moments with more equanimity because I know that these moments come, and these moments go.
Before having kids, I ran a number of marathons and was an avid subscriber to Runner’s World magazine. I remember an article about running mantras (not this one, but similar) in which someone suggested the mantra, “This too shall pass” as an appropriate and helpful mindset both for the times in which things felt difficult (as a means of encouraging yourself to push through and continue, instead of becoming despondent and giving up) and also for the times in which things felt effortlessly easy (as a means of encouraging yourself to recognize and appreciate those moments and to pace yourself!).
I love it. The tough moments? They will pass. The beautiful moments? They will pass too. I want to notice it all, weather it all, savor it all, be present for all of it… or at least as much of it as I possibly can.
I recently stumbled across a quote from Anna Quindlen that is a powerful reminder of this idea–
“The biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this.
I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture
of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the
swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4, and 1. And I wish I could remember
what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in a hurry to get on to the next things: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.”
It’s the times that I am most focused on the getting it done that I find myself short with my kids. When I’m under pressure to get out the door on time, or when I’m ready for them to go to bed already so I can have a little peace and quiet. When I feel less pressured about the outcomes, I find parenting more enjoyable– and also find myself better able to be the parent I want to be. That makes my kids more responsive… which usually translates to a better outcome anyway.
So hey, this week, I’m over here, treasuring the doing (or at least, trying to! ), and hoping that you can too. See you next week.
P.S.– another way to look at it? Our lives with our kids are like the Grand Canyon. Each tough moment is like a rock or boulder– they may feel weighty in the moment, but if you zoom out to the end of your time with your kids and see the whole story, they’re just tiny pebbles. ️. And this reminder from one of our great parent workshop presenters, Christine Frazita also seems on point here!
P.P.S.– remember, we’re now offering parenting support, both in person and via telehealth! And don’t forget about our high value, low investment email series for parents, How to Not Lose Your Sh*t With Your Kids!