In a world inundated with parenting advice, there are some old-time tried-and-true mantras that every mom should keep in her arsenal for those especially hellish times. So moms (and dads), for when the sh*t is hitting the fan spinning and flinging back out at you, repeat after me:
1. It Takes a Village
Do NOT fall into the modern-mama trap of feeling like you alone have to do it all. There’s a reason this particular mantra (or proverb I’ve turned into a mantra) has been passed down from generation to generation. It really does take a village.
When times are tough, ask for help. Call on your parents, siblings, cousins, friends, neighbors, colleagues, whoever you can. This ride is rough and traveling companions are necessary for survival.
If you don’t have a village, create one. When I found myself single with a toddler, I looked around and my village was a ghost town. In the misery of my relationship with my son’s father, I’d chased every one of my villagers away. My family lived across the country, and I was ALONE. I needed help and I found it in the way of colleagues at my new job, first. Next, I reunited with old friends. Then, my mom chose to relocate because she’s the best mother in the world! And finally, opening my heart to a new man and accepting all the craziness that came with his large Spanish family gave me a home in my new huge boisterous village.
Other good places to start if you find yourself really alone: care.com for babysitters, Facebook groups or Meetup.com for parenting or play groups, your child’s daycare – reach out to other parents for play dates, your church if you belong to one, and get to know your neighbors or hang out at a neighborhood park for opportunities to meet other parents who live close by.
2. One Day at a Time
When I asked on Facebook if any of my friends had mantras they repeat to themselves to get through the struggles, one replied with this classic. She said she wasn’t sure if that was a “zen” mantra, but it’s what she uses. I told her this is one of the most zen mantras, in my opinion. Remembering to take it one day at a time is essential to being mindful in parenting and in life.
As a member of a generation raised watching sitcoms where every problem was solved within a thirty-minute or one-hour time frame, it’s sometimes most difficult to keep it together when problems arise that aren’t immediately fixable. Especially for someone who is a fixer and goes a little bananas when she can’t solve a problem or control a situation. But, the truth of parenting is, it’s not always our job to fix their problems. And even with our help, not every problem will resolve in a nice and neat timely fashion like it did on Sister Act or Full House.
For those times, remembering to take it one day, one hour, one minute, sometimes one breath at a time is the best way to stay present and keep your life in a place of zen.
3. This Too Shall Pass
Can you get more zen than this? This was the second mantra my friend supplied to me and another oldie but goodie.
Childhood and parenting are full of phases. Breastfeeding. Not sleeping through the night. Teething. Terrible two’s. Terrible three’s. Adolescence. Hormones. Teen rebellion.
Not to mention playground bullying – if you’re not the parent comforting the child who’s suffering on the receiving end, you’ll be the parent visiting the principle’s office and subtly being asked what’s wrong with you that you’re raising such a monster. Social media bullying – yes, because this generation has found a way to follow each other home with the taunting and teasing and threatening.
If it’s not your child causing you pain, it’s watching as your child bears the pain of life as a human being on this planet. And, it will suck. A lot. But, it will pass. Because with time all darkness eventually sees the rosy fingers of dawn and the world is bright again for both parents and child.
4. Grant Me the Serenity…
Though technically a prayer, is there really a difference between praying and repeating a mantra? For those of you who aren’t familiar, the entire prayer is as follows:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
I don’t subscribe to one faith, so I eliminate the “God” when I say it which is why I consider it a mantra, albeit a longer one. At its heart, it’s dispelling the same message as the “life is suffering” philosophy, only instead you’re looking to a higher power to grant you the ability to accept this as truth and accept your inability to change it. You’re asking for the courage to change what you can because we do have free will and the ability to change how we react to the suffering, and you’re asking for the enlightenment to recognize when you need to step in and when you need to step out and acknowledge that sometimes parenting sucks. Sometimes kids suck. Sometimes life just sucks.
5. Kids Suck
Of course, I’m going to throw my own mantra into the mix. This one is for all the control-freak fixers out there who can’t let go. I’m telling you, sometimes, you need to just let go. Your kid’s behavior isn’t always a reflection of you. It’s not always a result of what you are or aren’t doing as a parent. Sometimes the sh*t’s hitting the fan because kids suck. When you accept that, it becomes so much easier to ride through the rough terrain of the tough times because instead of getting upset about the discomfort, you’re accepting it.
Do you have a parenting mantra you use to get through? Please share in the comments or contact me with a private email.