Thursday, July 28, 2011

4 a.m. Cuddles

A moment this Mama will never forget.
4 a.m. cuddle on our first sleepless night at the hospital.
There's nothing like holding a precious little piece of the universe in your arms.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Call to Attention

To a Mama the bell of mindfulness comes as the sound of her child's cry or the call of her name. Sometimes it's a crash or sound of the pantry door. Maybe it's a little one acting fussy reminding you to stop doing what you're doing and pay attention!

These days, I never have time for a formal meditation practice or visit to the Zendo. I rarely get a chance to sit on the cushion. Sure, sometimes I steal five to fifteen minutes when everyone is asleep or just sit and feel my breath for a minute, but that's rare with a newborn and toddler. I have accepted it will be a while before I get back into my groove here. But this doesn't mean that I'm not practicing or paying attention.

Every moment there is one reminder after another to "pay attention" and remember that "my life is my practice". I also have to remember that with love and attention all things will grow and flourish. I'd like to thank Karen Maezen Miller (and Maezumi Roshi, whom I never met) for these beautiful words and these ideas. In Momma Zen she writes, "Take care of what is in front of you, when it is in front of you, and the confusion will pass. This is called the effort of no effort. No effort is what powers the universe."

Sometimes when I feel that I have to focus on one single thing at a time or just finish what I'm doing I reflect upon what Kosho, the teacher at the Austin Zen Center told me, "Awareness is a floodlight." Awareness is not a spotlight that excludes certain things out of convenience. It is possible to pay attention to more than one thing at a time without being totally overwhelmed. It's what all mothers do! I wouldn't call it multitasking, but total awareness. No, it's not easy. Yes, I get frustrated.

Sometimes when I'm in the middle of some "important" task then Z or Bodhi calls me to attention, I think "Geez, I need to finish this. Don't you get it? You need to eat/clean clothes/the milk cleaned so you won't slip..." But in that moment he needs his Mama to pay attention! Last year I heard a lovely dharma talk by Abbot Myogen Steve St├╝cky where he talked about his practice with his children. He talks about my exact predicament described above. He speaks of the importance of "carefully attending to things" and "giving full attention when the request comes". Don't "Make the pancakes more important than the immediate request." Compassion, attention and understanding is including that/those which are right in front of you, not excluding something just because you have an idea that something else in that moment is more important. That is your reality -what is right in front of you!

It brings everyone peace to know that no matter where I am, or what I am doing, the act of simply paying attention is taking care of others and what is in front of me. That's what this Mama and her children need. And no, it's not always as easy as it sounds.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

One More Time, I'm a New Mama

Life with a newborn and a two-year old toddler is full of...

Love and joy.
Awe, surprise and adoration.
Starting over again.
Nothing the same.
Equally awesome but completely opposite boys.
More confidence this round mixed with some healthy confusion.
Helpful and loving family and friends.
Tiredness and fatigue.
Running on love.
Realizing more every day it's we, not me.
Learning about ourselves and our newly expanded family.
Eating together at a table most meals...
Yes, even if the baby has a boob in the mouth and Mama waits.
Sometimes cereal for dinner.
Messyness and taking time to pick up little by little.
Lots of lists to get crap out of Mama's head.
Surprises and constant change from moment to moment.
What the hell was that noise?
Is this normal?
"What was that?!?!?"
"Hang on, I hear Bodhi..."
Re-defining the word "important".
Letting go and leaning in.
And loving every tired moment that awakens us all a little more.
And more LOVE.