I've started to read Part III of Momma Zen. And true to form, the first chapter met me at exactly the right place.
I have been thinking a lot about schedules. Craving one, making one, making another, not following one, and so on and so forth. New motherhood is about unpredictability - there in lies some of the uncomfortable and sometimes irritating forced personal growth. But then one day, naps start to happen at the same time. And play dates. And bath time.
And then it all changes again. What you counted doesn't happen. What you planned doesn't work. And there again, lies some of that forced personal growth.
As if parenthood isn't hard enough, we get caught in the fire of opposing philosophies - sleep schedule vs. no schedule, timed breastfeeding vs. on demand feeding. Each family has their go-to method and stand feverishly behind it. Before having a child, I would have said that I fall into that "spontaneous, natural, let it happen organically" life rhythm. And for some things I am that way. For others, I have become the warden of timekeeping.
Bedtime is at 7pm, 99.9% of the time. That is how our nugget started to sleep through the night - every night. I paid attention to his rhythms and patterns and slowly this organic schedule emerged, that I simply gave structure to. And follow, almost religiously. But I do smile when I hear myself saying, "No he can't join the party - he goes to sleep at 7" because the creative and loosey goosey side of me wants to let him be with us and explore and enjoy his uncle's birthday celebration. I 100% believe that this simple adherence to his natural tendency to go to sleep at around 7pm is the reason that he is as pleasant and well adjusted and social and clever. He knows what to expect - there is no reason to fight it or hate it or rebel against it. At least for now.
And the reason I know how beneficial this is for him is that I know how beneficial it is for me. When I spent ten days at a silent meditation retreat in Thailand, I was certain that the structured schedule of the day would test the "don't want to follow your rules" girl in me. But you know what, I LOVED it. I LOVED LOVED LOVED it. Every minute of it. Why? Because for 10 days, I knew exactly what was expected of me, where I needed to be, what I needed to eat, when I needed to sleep. I didn't have to make any choices. And out of that most controlled and structured environment came the most profound sense of freedom I have ever felt. Ironic, right?
Our rational minds don't buy it. But it is true. Out of this structure came freedom and clarity and peace. And the most sensational bursts of creativity that I am still tapping into today.
Once again what is good for me is good for him, or vice versa. Wherever you are on the continuum of time - think about it for a moment. Think about your relationship with time and what you are teaching your children or what they are teaching you. Ms. Miller may have summed up my advice for new parents and especially new moms in this one sentence, "She became predictable when I became predictable.", in case anyone ever asks me.
As part of creating a ritualized schedule for myself, I have committed Monday nap time to my dwindling and in-need-of-attention-mindfulness practice. I will sit first for 30 minutes (in my newly appointed meditation corner), then read an unread chapter in Momma Zen and then let my writing simply follow. If you are interested in joining me, let me know. Would love for you to join me - wherever you are. No meditation skills required.
Above image found here