Everyone is joining in to add their practices, so I thought I'd add a post to the carnival. Click on the button below to go over and check it out.
I rarely read parenting books and I steer away from giving advice that isn't solicited with a question. I hope I'm a good-enough mother, but I'm not an exemplary parent. I dreamed of transcending my own parents but discovered that I make the same mistakes they did. Mums at playgroup say they couldn't imagine me shouting at my children, but that's mainly because I know how to behave in public and they don't live next door to me.
Maybe like you, I have times when parenting goes smoothly and fills me with joy. And then there's times when parenting seems impossible and I'm ashamed of how I behave.
Most of my disasters spring from assumptions, preoccupations and selfishness (and hunger). Good moments spring out of unexpected comments, expressions of love or excitement, and just pausing to enjoy.
The practice I am remembering daily, is to stop, and listen.
When the steam is about to explode from every hole in my head, and there's criticism burning the end of my tongue, I stop. I swallow hard ... and listen. I'm starting to discover all sorts of reasons or circumstances which change the temperature of a situation from red hot to cooling quickly.
When it's bedtime, and I'd rather be checking facebook or watching "Outnumbered", I stop. I lie back down on the bed and hear stories of the day or get spontaneous cuddles. I listen and I'm seeing each child taking shape as they slowly explain themselves to me.
When the job's not done exactly as I like it, or I'm being ignored when I ask for a hand, it's time to stop. Let the hurt or the blunt correction stay put. I breathe out slow and I listen to where everyone is, what's going on and usually my perspective changes or I realise that it can wait for the moment.
When the sound of bodies bounding on the trampoline mingles with shouts and laughter, it's a stop and listen moment. Or that instant when I notice the silence in the hallway, as breaths slow and bodies relax into night. That instant is a stop and listen call.
Rather than react instantly, I'm practicing stopping and listening.