In my humble opinion, the above article on mindful parenting rather misses the point. I have a feeling that the author hasn’t misunderstood mindfulness as fully as she makes out, and that actually this is more a backlash against ‘perfectionist parenting’. To balance the argument (and in defence of mindfulness, not that it cares a jot whether it’s defended or not), mindful parenting isn’t at all about spending our days endlessly sniffing our child’s hair and gazing into their eyes with adoration. Mindful parenting is all about full-catastrophe-living, and balancing the difficult stuff by paying more attention to the good stuff.
Where Bethany does absolutely get it right, is in bringing in humour to the full ‘catastrophe’ of parenting. The privilege of parenting a child delivers the highest of highs and the lowest of lows… seeing the hilarity of our predicaments releases tension and can change our perspective. I remember many years ago, as an exhausted mum to a very tetchy 6-month-old baby, having a rare moment of pride and deciding to put a nice outfit on to show my husband how well I was coping. During a nappy-change, my pint-sized bundle of grumpiness pulled a particularly interesting grimace and then fired poo onto my nice top at a pace that was far too swift for me to dodge. I believe there was a moment of outrage, but I was far too exhausted to really put the required energy into proper outrage, and a little giggle started (which then grew to full-on belly-laughs).
When my eldest was little, I judged my parenting so harshly and experienced so many moments when I felt like I was failing as a parent. Mindfulness shows us that we’re never failing – we’re always doing our best given our current state of awareness – and shows us how to live life fully with both the good and the not-so-good. My inner-critic hasn’t completely gone away, but her voice is less insistent now and I don’t believe everything she says.