About once a week, typically when my toddler and I are already running behind schedule, our cat will run into our garage and park herself underneath the car, making it impossible to pull out. On cue, my son will start yelling and trying to run after her, I'll scoop him up while he struggles, and I'll breathe and acknowledge in my calmest voice, that this is really frustrating right now. One of the things people won't tell you about mindful parenting is that it doesn't magically erase all the frustrations from parenting, or make you immune to them. It just helps you respond to it better. Usually.
Embracing mindful parenting doesn’t mean I'm not also a goofy, weird, occasionally frustrated mom. It doesn't mean I don’t cuss, or don’t enjoy a glass (or two) of wine at night, or wake up two hours before my son does so I can do yoga at sunrise. I have all the respect in the world for folks like that, but it's just not me. Mindful parenting isn’t about being a picture-perfect, manta-chanting stereotype; it’s about paying attention to my reactions and staying in the moment with my child, so that I can be my most thoughtful, compassionate self. It's about letting go of unrealistic expectations so that I can deal with what actually is, instead of stressing myself out by judging myself and my family for not meeting some arbitrary standard of who we "should" be. It helps me distinguish between what we do and who we are, so I don't get mired in shame and flip out as a result.
Being mindful about my parenting also helps me recognize that the ups and downs of any given day aren’t necessarily about me. I don’t need to take it personally, or worry that anyone who sees what’s happening is judging my parenting abilities as a result. Does that mean I’m immune to every jab? Nope. It just means I don't let other people's ideas and agendas — or my own impatience — drive my parenting. It means I strive to be in control of my own reactions so that I can focus on what my kids need in any given moment. Other things you might not hear about mindful parenting, but might find it useful to know, includes: