Mindfulness vs. Mindlessness
Contributed by Justina Hertzler
Mindlessness, aka losing my mind, often overwhelms me when I'm at my most vulnerable. Those times when I have to accomplish something in a short period of time while maintaining the calm amongst two tiny people who can sense my growing anxiety. A place I've been in several times over the course of writing this entry. "Just a minute," or "give me a sec," are flying out of my mouth left and right, while my brain switches into multitask mode. As if on cue, tiny number two hones in on my location, starts yelling, signing "milk," and demanding to be picked up. This causes tiny number one to scream and run around the house, inciting dog, assuming the loudest gets the most attention (which is mostly true). I check the time, feel my anxiety level ratchet up a notch, and push on, despite feeling paralyzed by the noise, and growing needs of the kiddos. Insert favorite mindfulness practice. Slow down. Stop multitasking all. the. time. When I calm my mind, peace settles around us, and time seems to slow down. It allows me to get down on my children's level to assess their needs, and block out the distractions whirling around in my head. It may be but a lingering moment, but it feels like an accomplishment. It’s my answer to my despair about the speed of life. Intentionally taking one task at a time, literally keeping a slower pace, has been a relief.
One might wonder why, if I so desire to slow down, am I'm often hurrying my three year old. "Lets go, we have to hurry" was a common command at our house until recently. Resisting the urge to constantly hurry my children, mostly the three year old, is a daily practice That's not to say that I'm never in a hurry, or that I don't try to quickly usher my children out the door at times. I've just decided to remove "hurry up" from my vocabulary, attempting to respect the environment we all share. It also makes for a more pleasant exit. I adopted this the instant I read Hands Free Mama, "The day I stopped saying hurry up." My three year old is always mindful, always noticing, always with insight into our adult lives, and she is slow. As she should be, that is the freedom of childhood. Instead of rushing her, I give her more time to process. Instead of hurrying her out the door I make time to engage in what she is doing at the moment, and take it in with her. Deleting "hurry up" is a reminder to savor this time with my children, rather than rushing mindlessly from activity to activity.
During the day I have very little time to myself to just think. My youngest still naps twice a day, but her sister is on overdrive from morning until night. Talking to me or at me, engaging me at every possible moment, is a trait that I work hard to embrace, but gets the best of me at times. I really enjoy peace and quiet. No background music during the day (unless we are having a three year old dance party), no ear buds on runs, no special play lists for long drives (probably a pod cast or two, I'm not that crazy), so the all day barrage of three year old banter is tough. My reprieve comes when I'm nursing the baby to sleep, in three 20-minute windows. It's tempting to take my phone into the quiet dark room and mindlessly browse the web while she is nodding off to sleep. But this time feels sacred. Instead I've committed to just being during naptime. Rocking back and forth with a sleeping baby and just looking at her, being mindful of this place in time. No phone. It's my favorite. There really isn't an email or text that can't wait. My children notice when I have too much going on during the day. Having time to collect my thoughts rather than checking status updates, keeps us all sane.
I want to be here, in this season of life as long as possible. My three year old can't wait to be a "mommy with a kid, a baby and a daddy (husband),'' but I'm hoping to take the slow road to that party.
Justina Hertlzer lives in Lancaster Pennsylvania with her two beautiful daughters and Brew Master/Frisbee throwing husband. She is a Registered Nurse and Magical Mama committed to holistic health, mindful parenting, and global transformation through personal healing.