I came across a book today called The Rookie Mom's Handbook. It is based on a blog by two moms who share ideas about things to do with your baby throughout the first year. As I pondered this very cute and entertaining guide, I began to wonder when we move on from being rookie moms?
When my oldest son was born everything that happened was new and I felt like I faced each day's challenges in a very mindful and present manner. I definitely knew I was a rookie mom. When my second son was born I realized that while I had the experiences from my first son, I couldn't do things exactly the same because he was a different child and had different needs. I found that when I would get frustrated I was often expecting my son to act or respond differently than he was. I wasn't being present in that moment, I was expecting it to be like some other moment I had experienced or wished for. I didn't always look like a rookie mom to others, but I was definitely a rookie at being a mom to my second son and a rookie at being a mom of two.
In some meditation traditions we are taught to practice staying in our beginner's mind. This concept helps us to keep ourselves in the present moment, rather than slipping into old patterns. If we are in our beginner's mind, all experiences are new and unique. We can be observant and make choices based on the current situation without dragging in all of our history. I think a rookie mom perspective is very much a beginner's mind perspective.
Even though my sons are nine and seven, I still feel like a rookie mom much of the time. They continue to grow and change and every day is full of new experiences. The days are also full of experiences that are very familiar like getting ready for school, eating meals, preparing for bed, etc. The challenge through those familiar tasks is to maintain that rookie mom or beginner's mind perspective. If I can do that and remain present in the current moment, I can respond to my children as they are right now in this moment with compassion. When I forget to "be here, now," I find myself much less compassionate and much more impatient.
Parenting is a practice, just as yoga and meditation are practices. We practice every day beginning where we are, listening to the messages our bodies (and our children) send us, and knowing that each time we practice we are a little bit different. Each day, each practice is different, even though much of it feels familiar. Be present. Be here, now. Breath by breath. Moment by moment. Just be.