I can’t tell you how often I hear moms tell me that their young children are so needy and demanding, (especially when it is time to make supper!), that they find it difficult to find the space to nurture their childrens basic needs for nutrition and well-being. This is in spite of the fact that they stay at home all day, with mothering as their primary task!  An outsider to motherhood might find this very curious situation.  Surely you’d think that in a 16 hour period, a person could get three meals on the table and keep a tidy house!  Yet many women, my self included, find this to be an insurmountable task even though we spend most of our days working toward that end!  Granted, I am not entirely solely focused on mothering and homemaking; my many moons of mothering have been interspersed with businesses, studying and doula work.  Yet  even on days when I am exclusively given over to domesticity, as I reflect at the end of the day on what I have actually accomplished with my two children in tow and it more often than not, looks as though I am not only unsuccessful as a “domestic artist”, but I too, often have no idea where the time went that day or what I did with it! You might say that it is especially challenging for me because I spread myself too thin or in too many directions with so many projects on the go; however, I have more than a few close friends whose main or only focus is being at home with their children and they most certainly wouldn’t say that organizing their lives at home is any easier than mine is, or isn’t!.

So if life as a homemaker isn’t “all sugar and spice and everything nice”, and it isn’t because we spread ourselves too thin, or because we don’t have enough time; I propose that, what makes staying at home with our children, cooking and “keeping house” a difficult , if not insurmountable task, is simply the absence of rhythm and boundaries which serve to nurture a healthy balance between order and spontaneity.

Oh what a glorious fantasy I had during my first pregnancy! I imagined that I would lavish being a stay at home mom and be really good at it! I imagined that I would bask in the glory of the feminine homesteading arts, while my secure and at ease children would play quietly at my feet as I prepared wholesome food and put fresh wildflowers in the vase; ones that were of course, freshly picked from that day’s stroll in nature! These serene calm children of mine would smile ever so sweetly and thank me kindly for the nourishing food that I placed before them, all the while spreading their organic cotton napkins in their lap and folding their hands to begin the mealtime prayer. What a laugh that is!

In reality the kids are simply; kids being kids. They are noisy, messy, whiny, asking for this and for that, refusing the food I make with statements of detest or rejecting it on the premise that they wanted a horizontal not vertically sliced sandwich; the house is a pig sty, I’ve been wearing the same clothes for three days in a row (yes I did shower, but did I put deodorant on this morning?). Brush my teeth? How about their teeth? I’m behind on laundry… again, “yes honey, put yesterdays dirty socks back on…they don’t match”?  “Too bad, so sad…”; “sorry hubby, I know you just worked 8- 12 hours lifting heavy men things (what is it that you do at work again?), but I’m just too tired, I can’t bare to stay home another minute, let alone make another meal, from scratch! We are going to have to eat out AGAIN”. If you put my life on camera, I’d be moving to and fro all day, but one really couldn’t say what tasks I actually complete. Everything is in process and starting over again!  That is a mother’s work. Its value is beyond measure, yet the work is “invisible” to the naked eye.

Now, if you are not concerned with making quality wholesome food from scratch or keeping  a zen “ish” living environment, you might say, that meeting the emotional needs of my children and nurturing their spirit,  more than makes up for the fact that there are dishes in the sink and oatmeal smeared all over the couch. You might consider that a fair trade off, for the likes of being a Martha Stewart!  Yet I must confess that there are more days than I care to admit where I have no idea what I did with my day and that my kids are acting needy and demanding, in spite of the fact that I was physically present and available to them all day…. not exactly signs of getting their needs met!

So what is really going on here?
After 7 plus years of mothering, I have finally figured this out, so allow me to pick up a stone in your path….its called a lack of presence and too many whims. “Whims” defined: Impulsive or unpredictable often sudden idea or turn of the mind.

My whims, your whims and their whims…..seemingly real entities that feed off of one another…. yet no one is satiated for long and the cycle just keeps perpetuating itself.

What keeps these “whims” alive? We feed them with obsessive and compulsive thinking, disorganization, confusion, impulsiveness, quick fixes and self centered “ness” or on the other hand  anal retentive perfectionism, work-a holism (the hallmark of a work- a- holic  is that they always look busy but never get anything done! Hmmm…..anyone you know?), rigidity, tunnel vision, time poverty consciousness and martyrdom!  Any of these states can lead to whiny and dissatisfied kids and MOTHERS!

How can our children be anything but demanding and relentlessly needy in our lack of true presence? Their neediness serves to call our attention to the fact that they have a need for something; whether or not they or we even know what that need is. Their demanding of us is only a cry to call us back into the present moment; calling us into awareness so that we can perceive and get present to what is needed here and now in this moment.  This is why parenthood is spiritual path of a high order. There can be no pretending here. We become enlightened by our children’s “telling of us”. Having children is like wearing our weaknesses out on display for the whole world to see; uncovering what we have failed to see within ourselves, or that which we have repressed deep within and hoped would never rear its ugly head again.

It would be naive to expect our lives to be transformed by reading just one insightful article. It is also unlikely that any insight, no matter how aligned it is with our truth, to make a smidgen of difference, unless it is applied within some kind of context or confine. Few of us live beyond seconds of true awareness, let alone hours or an entire day. Yet, if we are to start somewhere and begin cultivating awareness in our lives and quiet those whims, mornings would be the perfect place to start, as the morning sets the tone and informs the flow of the upcoming day.

How do you begin each day? Seriously contemplate this. Write it in your journal.  What does it look like? How does it feel? How does it impact your kids? What do you see? What do you really need? What do your children really need? What insights are you getting? How could you tangibly put these insights of awareness, into action? What would make it possible to have the space needed to create a nourishing breakfast and a peaceful start to the day?

When children can depend on a nourishing breakfast and a nurturing morning routine, they feel secure enough to indulge in their own imaginative free play while you work, because they know what to expect and what is expected. On the other hand, when mother is swayed by fickle impulses that change from moment to moment; her children end up feeling disoriented and will try desperately to bring her back into the present moment through erratic behaviors that consistently pull her out of the task at hand.

It is the child’s innate longing to be grounded by and connected to mother to fulfill inner feelings of safety, belonging and security in life. When a child cannot feel this presence, he will attempt to get into the driver seat which will cause an inversion where mother is now driven by the child’s impulses!  She will find her self now catering to the child’s demands. Mother will rightfully say “this child is driving me crazy!”.  When this is the dynamic in the parent and child relationship, no ones needs are being met, least of all, the child’s.

So what do you intend for this day? How will you call yourself present? What aspects of your own and your child’s life need extra care and attention? How will you make space for time alone and to pursue the creative dreams and longings that you may have outside the context of mothering?

Setting Boundaries For Yourself
In my own experience, I find that if I haven’t been very present to my children and to the sacred space that I consider home (even if I was physically present all day); I find that I am not completely at ease either with the other work that I do. I end up leaving home with a feeling of low level anxiety, instead of enjoying the time that I have to myself while tending to my passions and creativity. This makes it is easy for me to accept one’s need  to cultivate self discipline, boundaries and rhythms or routines in life, in order to truly and fully experience the contrasting excitement of spontaneity!  Our conscious presence helps us flow with what is, keeping us from becoming rigid in our routines; while our rhythms keep us firmly rooted so that we can relax into spontaneity and enjoy the surprises and unexpected opportunities that life brings our way!

To fulfill on setting rhythms in place, requires some time to contemplate and organize, and time again to re-evaluate what works and what doesn’t. What matters most, is that mother’s keep coming back to the question, “what is truly needed here, now?”  This is not to create another standard of the perfect mother; always present and without whims. It is a way of consensus between mother and child, where the true needs of both are met, so that both can expand fully into the freedom of the moment and connection.  It is also a question to keep coming back to, because what is needed is naturally impermanent and therefore calls forth a flexible mind and open heart.  Cultivating presence, allows us to create a life we love living. It helps us feel fulfilled in the tasks of mothering and home making; tasks which can be a moving meditation if we honor them as such.  As our children become more and more fulfilled by our presence and consciousness, they naturally weave out of us, as much as into us, thus gifting us both with endearing connection with them, along with sweet moments of expansive nurturing and sacred time to ourselves.