Empty Cups and Loving Kindness

Empty cups and loving kindness. Ten years from now, if I look back at this blog, I wonder how many entries I will count during this chapter of life with small children in which I discuss the topic of my “empty cup.”

Responding with loving kindness. This is the crux of attachment parenting, right?  You look at the principles of the AP parenting philosophy and all the subjects ultimately come back to this ideal. It’s about developing and nurturing close connections between parent and child by:

  • Preparing for pregnancy, birth and parenting
  • Feeding with love and respect
  • Responding with sensitivity
  • Using nurturing touch
  • Ensuring safe sleep — both physically and emotionally
  • Providing consistent, loving care
  • Practicing positive discipline
  • Striving for balance in personal and family life.

Right now I’m finding myself annoyed by the contradicting recommendations.

For all those mothers reading this who at 18 months or 2 years are still waking up three, four…eight times a night to lovingly offer your body to your child….

For all the mothers that have gone a year or two or more without trusting anyone other than their partner to care for their child in order to get a break…..

For all the mothers that are at their wits end and are just plain worn out….

How do you continue to respond lovingly every single time to the needs of your children (and your partner or your spouse?!)

At some point, the lack of self-care sets you up to treat the people you care about most the opposite way you intended when you first gravitated toward Attachment Parenting.

In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s virtually impossible to maintain our collective AP goal of responding with loving kindness to cries, to boob grabs, to tantrums, to sibling fights, to whining requests when we continue to ignore ourselves.

I don’t know what AP looks like if we — as I’ve written in the past — focus on the last (notice it’s last??) AP tenet  THEN abide by the rest. So much of the first seven principles, for me at least, has meant sacrificing the last (me) and then — here at Year Four while I now attempt to maintain some level of this practice with a full-time job — has me in a fairly chronic state of oh-my-god-when-can-I-get-a-break pissed-off-ness which is bleeding into my family and mirrored back to me through the angry outbursts of my children.

The Loving Kindness goal must apply to everyone in the family including oneself. It’s so damn hard to figure out. But it’s just imperative to give your children the gift of modeling self-love and the gift of experiencing a mother whose state of being reflects that of someone with tempered self-sacrifice.

Mothers who carefully abide by all 8 principals and carefully tend to yourselves — I really want to hear from you and share your story here if you’re willing. Please drop me a line:  monica@attachmentmama.com

Last month I was published in a Washington DC magazine called, “Pathways“.  The article hasn’t posted on their web site yet. When it does, I’ll share it here. It’s called “Positively Grateful: Three Easy Tips for Maintaining a Loving and Positive State of Being.”  It’s based off a post on Attachment Mama that I wrote several months ago that the magazine discovered and asked to print.

The Tips:

  1. Change Your Physiology. Discover the desired emotional state that matches a physiological state and start with the latter to produce it.
  2. Check in On Your Focus and Your Beliefs. Are you focused on believing your current situation will be forever? And how does that irrational thought block opportunities?
  3. Change the Question. Be aware of inner voice doom and gloom questions like “What’s wrong with me?” or “Why can’t I figure this out?”. Negatively oriented questions produce negatively oriented answers. Catch yourself and try a new set of questions:  “How Can I Make this Fun?” or “What am I willing to do to create a new reality?”

I have – God Bless America  – started a tiny running routine again.  And this is helping.  But it’s puny and it’s not fully consistent.  YET.  Going beyond fifteen or twenty minutes and 2 times a week will be key for me. I know that running for me can put me in a zen state that is all about #1 and can bring in the benefits of #3 if I consciously move my mind in developing new mental questions while I’m moving my body.

I circled around and around all that I was frustrated about for the first 14 minutes of my mini jog the other day and then came up with a random new question that shook me out of it:

Who buys and drives bright yellow cars?  And more specifically, who buys and drives yellow corvettes?

And since I asked that question to myself the other day, and it made me smile which I don’t do nearly enough these days, I’m constantly on the look-out for non taxi cab yellow cars. The other day I made it a game for my girls on the way to school and they loved it.

One of these days maybe I’ll meet a yellow corvette driver (doubtful?) and discover the nuances of his unique personality.

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