Zen Mom


When the waves are rolling towards me sometimes I don't know whether to quickly dive under or gently float over them. And, if I don't make the right decision quickly, I am sure to be slam dunked. And that's happened more times than I'd like to recount, but, for the most part, I can see them coming and make the right decision.

I am the mother of four teenagers, and I am alive to tell about it. It doesn't seem so long ago that we had a regular routine: breakfast, sweep, nap, play-dough time, lunch, sweep, long walk in the stroller, long nap, dinner, sweep, bath, story, bed. I had the luxury of being a stay-at-home-mom thanks to my husband working double time to support all of us financially while I supported us emotionally.

I quit my job on a Friday, 8 weeks before the twins were due, per the doctor's orders. The fact that I couldn't find any comfortable and appropriate work shoes to fit my swollen feet underscored the fact that it was time for me to be off of them for a bit! I had my What to Expect When You Are Expecting book and several others all lined up on the coffee table with plans of actually laying around for 8 weeks incubating the babies while educating myself.

We spent the weekend after my "retirement" shopping for crib mattresses (8 stores!) washing our German Shepherd and finally attending the coed baby shower my friends threw for us where I promptly went into labor as the twins decided to come out the following Monday. There was no laying around and reading in the near future for me.

It was a happy an industrious time, and I was very fulfilled. I was a proud mamma, but I don't know where that pride went when I joined my husband at his holiday work parties. "So what do you do?" asked his glamorous coworkers. "Uh, I am a stay at home mom." The words always stung, like being the sole caretaker of four kids under five just wasn't doing quite enough. Sometimes I'd toss in the fact that I had gotten my BA in Linguistics. Then I had to explain what the study of Linguistics was and what one can do with a Linguistics' major.

My husband was very supportive and advised me to refer to myself as a full-time mom as we really weren't home all that often. That moniker seemed to have a bit more clout. Fueled by his support and by Dr. Laura's, I decided that I was lucky to be able to be there full time for my kids while they were young.

When all the kiddies were at the same school, and I had hopes of pursuing my writing and having some time to get on an exercise plan and get an occasional pedicure, our finances took a dump and I had to look for work.

It was quite an eye opener attempting to find a decent part- time job after having been out of the work force for more than 10 years. I had yesterday's skills in a time of tomorrow's requirements. That Linguistics' degree wasn't getting me anywhere past the $10 an hour job slots, but that was enough for me to pay for our groceries.

One of the soccer moms offered me a job at the company she worked for, and I took it and am still happily employed there. That opportunity grew into a career with flexible hours. And the career part evolved just at the right time. I can't even imagine trying to factor in business travel with four little ones and a husband who didn't come home until 10:00 p.m.!

I was able to work part-time while they were in school, and I was still there for them when they got home, but I wasn't there for me. It was a period of driving in circles, having to be uber organized just to be able to get dinner on the table prior to multiple soccer practices and then exercise patience on the damn math when I was beat.

My husband would arrive home to a tidy house, kids in bed and his dinner on a plate nicely saran wrapped and ready for microwaving, and a wife on the couch yawning.

There wasn't time for anything that wasn't a necessity for our survival. At times I grew resentful from the grind. It seemed there was no rest in sight. Ever. And I often found myself pining for the time when I could just come home from work and maybe sit down and read a book for a bit instead of assuming the role of drill sergeant. Half the time I found that mentally, I was rarely present in the moment. I was always somewhere in the future worrying that I needed to work harder and faster, sleep less, earn more, exercise more, be more patient with our kids. Wishing that there were about 40 hours in the day, or that all of my kids despised soccer. The rare nights where I could come home from work, prepare a meal without having to interrupt half way through, eat it and do the dishes and then have some time before bed to watch a movie or play a game seemed like rare gifts.

So we lived happily and frugally in our dream house with the private school walking distance away and our little kiddies grew into lovely teenagers.

I was always told that the teen years were by far the most difficult years of child rearing, but I disagree with that. Though there are challenges, the good times far outweigh the bad. I no longer have to try to make decent bacon and pancakes on Sundays. They have taken that over. My daughter does the holiday baking and they'll vacuum and empty the dishwasher if I ask nicely. I have found that I now have time to do a bit of reading and actually get to go in our pool on occasion. My daughter and I get pedicures together. It has been a liberating and wonderful experience and the only thing I would have done differently was not to have attempted to team mom three different soccer teams and make three banners all in one season. That was a daunting task, even for the uber organized.

I still have three playing soccer, but I am not the team mom and no banners need to be made at this stage. Course now I miss that. My husband coaches and refs now and seems to really enjoy it. We only need to obtain one Halloween costume this year. We play Texas Hold 'em instead of Candyland. I can't help them with their math anymore. We've banned Kraft Macaroni and cheese from the menu. We eat a lot of homemade tacos and Szechwan Chicken.

There were some crazy times, days where I thought I would never ever be able to meet all of the work, school, soccer, and family obligations sitting on my plate. But somehow I always did. If only I had known then what I know now, which is to just be where I am, fully, and trust that all is just as it should be. Not resentfully wishing I was somewhere else doing something else, and constantly questioning if I was doing it all correct!

I began to notice that the more I worried the worse things got, and the more I stayed in the moment, just focusing on one thing at a time and doing my best, and most importantly, not having any set expectations for how things should be working out, but just trusting that all was as it should be, the better life became. This is the Zen of being a mom. Not trying to live to get to the end of our obligations so that we can do what we want, but rather wanting what we are doing. Of course that's a lot easier said than done, but it can be life changing if practiced.

They are four wonderful individuals. My husband and I have parented them as best we could and now it's time to watch them blossom. We have to watch out for the thorns and be there with the water. We have to guide their growth without stunting it. This can be tricky. The twins, being the oldest, are the guinea pigs. My husband and I think back to how things were when we were their age. We both worked during high school, and I was able to support myself and pay for my education on my waitress earnings. Tips were good back in those days. Hubby worked all sorts of jobs and ended up with a very lucrative job for the studios.

Our twins are trying to find their way through the work and college maze. I think it is more difficult nowadays. Much more competitive and expensive and wages have not gone up in accordance with education and living expenses. So we are having some differences of opinion regarding who should pay for what. I wish there was a magic answer. It reminds me of the poem by Robert Frost, "We dance around in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows." All we can do is continue to give it our best shot, let them be who they are and not who we wish we'd become, try to keep up with the physical and financial demands, and trust that all is as it should be.

Inspirational Quotes

(click link above for source and more!)

A baby-sitter is a teenager who gets two dollars an hour to eat five dollars' worth of your food.
-- Henny Youngman

A boy becomes an adult three years before his parents think he does, and about two years after he thinks he does.
-- Lewis B. Hershey

Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves.
-- Virginia Satir

Adolescence: A stage between infancy and adultery.
-- Ambrose Bierce

Adolescence is perhaps nature's way of preparing parents to welcome the empty nest.
-- Karen Savage and Patricia Adams

Arguing with a teenager is like wrestling in the mud with a pig. Sooner or later you figure out that he/she is enjoying it.
-- Author Unknown

As a teenager you are at the last stage in your life when you will be happy to hear that the phone is for you.
-- Fran Lebowitz

At fourteen you don't need sickness or death for tragedy.
-- Jessamyn West

Attention Teenagers! NO is a complete sentence!
-- Author Unknown

Delight in your youth.
-- Pearl Jam

Don't laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find a face of his own.
-- Logan Pearsall Smith

Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.
-- Henry David Thoreau

Exuberance is beautiful.
-- William Blake

Fashion is what you adopt when you don't know who you are.
-- Quentin Crisp

Few things are more satisfying than seeing your children have teenagers of their own.
-- Doug Larson

Figuring out who you are is the whole point of the human experience.
-- Anna Quindlen

Helping your eldest to pick a college is one of the greatest educational experiences of life - for the parents. Next to trying to pick his bride, it's the best way to learn that your authority, if not entirely gone, is slipping fast.
-- Sally and James Reston

Heredity is what sets the parents of a teenager wondering about each other.
-- Laurence J. Peter

Hmmm! Teenagers. They think they know everything. You give them an inch, and they swim all over you.
-- Sebastian, "The Little Mermaid"

How beautiful is youth! How bright it gleams with its illusions, aspirations, dreams!
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How strange that the young should always think the world is against them - when in fact that is the only time it is for them.
-- Mignon McLaughlin

Human life is a continuous thread which each of us spins to his own pattern, rich and complex in meaning. There are no natural knots in it. Yet knots form, nearly always in adolescence.
-- Edgar Z. Friedenberg

Keep true to the dreams of thy youth.
-- Johann Friedrich von Schiller

I am every emotion times ten, I conform yet I'm rebellious, always obeying but somehow still an outlaw, always talking but never heard, I am a teenager.
-- Author Unknown

I don't blame you for everything, she told me. Just the stuff my friends & I can agree on.
-- Brian Andreas

I have seen my kid struggle into the kitchen in the morning with outfits that need only one accessory: an empty gin bottle.
-- Erma Bombeck

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels.
-- Maya Angelou

I never expected to see the day when girls would get sunburned in the places they do now.
-- Will Rogers

If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
-- General George S. Patton, Jr.

If you want to recapture your youth, just cut off his allowance.
-- Al Bernstein

Incredibly, inordinately, devastatingly, immortally, calamitously, hearteningly, adorably beautiful.
-- Rupert Brooke

It is hard to convince a high-school student that he will encounter a lot of problems more difficult than those of algebra and geometry.
-- Edgar W. Howe

It is not chic to be too chic.
-- Elsie de Wolfe

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.
-- William Shakespeare

It's difficult to decide whether growing pains are something teenagers have - or are.
-- Author Unknown

Little children, headache; big children, heartache.
-- Italian Proverb

Maturity begins to grow when you can sense you concern for others outweighing your concern for yourself.
-- John MacNoughton

Mother Nature is providential. She gives us twelve years to develop a love for our children before turning them into teenagers.
-- William Galvin

My kids' idea of a hard life is to live in a house with only one phone.
-- George Foreman

Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth.
-- Erma Bombeck

Raising teenagers is like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree.
-- Author Unknown

Small children disturb your sleep, big children your life.
-- Yiddish Proverb

Teenagers complain there's nothing to do, then stay out all night doing it.
-- Bob Phillips

Teenagehood -- that time in life when you show your individuality by looking like everyone else.
-- Author Unknown

Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.
-- Arnold H. Glasow

The average teenager still has all the faults his parents outgrew.
-- Author Unknown

The best substitute for experience is being sixteen.
-- Raymond Duncan

Next Post date: October 4 , 2010

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September 6, 2010

Inspirational Quotes

(click link above for source and more!)

A boy's best friend is his mother.
-- Joseph Stefano

A little girl, asked where her home was, replied, "where mother is."
-- Keith L. Brooks

A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.
-- Irish Proverb

A mother holds her children's hands for a while...their hearts forever.
-- Author Unknown

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.
-- Tenneva Jordan

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.
-- Washington Irving

A mother understands what a child does not say.
-- Jewish proverb

A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.
-- Victor Hugo

A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.
-- Agatha Christie

A mother's love liberates.
-- Maya Angelou

A mother,
There to support you,
And hold you up whenever you need her.
-- Laurel Stephens

All mothers are working mothers.
-- Author Unknown

All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.
-- Abraham Lincoln

And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see -- or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read.
-- Alice Walker

Any mother could perform the jobs of several air traffic controllers with ease.
-- Lisa Alther

Because I feel that in the heavens above
The angels, whispering one to another,
Can find among their burning tears of love,
None so devotional as that of "Mother,"
Therefore, by that dear name I have long called you,
You who are more than mother unto me.
-- Edgar Allan Poe

Before becoming a mother I had a hundred theories on how to bring up children. Now I have seven children and only one theory: Love them, especially when they least deserve to be loved.
-- Kate Samperi

Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love.
-- Mildred B. Vermont

Children and mothers never truly part -
Bound in the beating of each other's heart.
-- Charlotte Gray

Education commences at the mother's knee, and every word spoken within the hearing of little children tends towards the formation of character.
-- Hosea Ballou

Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom with the dishes.
-- P.J. O'Rourke

God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers.
-- Jewish Proverb

Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that suppose to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing.
-- Toni Morrison

I know how to do anything - I'm a mom.
-- Rosanne Barr

I miss thee, my Mother! Thy image is still The deepest impressed on my heart.
-- Eliza Cook

I never knew how much love my heart could hold until someone called me "mommy."
-- Author Unknown

I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

I thought my mom's whole purpose was to be my mom. That's how she made me feel.
-- Natasha Gregson Wagner

I'd rather be a mother than anyone on earth
Bringing up a child or two of unpretentious birth...
I'd rather tuck a little child all safe and sound in bed
than twine a chain of diamonds about my [carefree] head.
I'd rather wash a smudgy face with round, bright, baby eyes
Than paint the pageantry of fame or walk among the wise.
-- Meredith Gray

If at first you don't succeed, do it the way your mother told you to.
-- Author Unknown

It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding.
-- Erma Bombeck

It's so good to know that wherever you are, a Mom is with you in spirit and in love.
-- Author Unknown

It was when I had my first child that I understood how much my mother loved me.
-- From "For Mother - A Bouquet of Sentiments"

Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.
-- Marion C. Garretty

Mother - that was the bank where we deposited all our hurts and worries.
-- T. DeWitt Talmage

Mother's love grows by giving.
-- Charles Lamb

Mother's love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved.
-- Erich Fromm

Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials.
-- Meryl Streep

Motherhood is not for the faint-hearted. Frogs, skinned knees, and the insults of teenage girls are not meant for the wimpy.
-- Danielle Steel

My mother is a poem
I'll never be able to write,
though everything I write
is a poem to my mother.
-- Sharon Doubiago

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