We all have laps. Our laps are intimate places for us to reconnect with ourselves. Your lap is there every single time you sit. It’s so familiar, it’s almost invisible. Just like your breath, laps are easily assessable each and every day. In fact, you might notice just how many things you put in your lap in one day: children, animals, knitting, books, etc. We only need to stop, acknowledge and remember to reconnect with this soft, safe place within ourselves.
Life is bound to throw us curve balls. That’s the nature of existence. We get sick, people cut us off in traffic, there aren’t enough hours in a mother’s day, etc. Sometimes we get so distracted that we forget to pause and take care of ourselves. I am learning that a daily dose of lap time helps me stay focused in the present. Obviously, to make a lap, I have to stop activity in the upright standing position and “set a spell” as my grandmother used to say!
“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence within us,” says Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. in her heartfelt book, My Grandfather’s Blessings. “Not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing. Silence is God’s lap.”
Everyone needs a lap. We provide a comforting lap for our children when they need a calming influence or a simple hug. The position we are in when we have someone in our lap is one of holding and containment. As we sit, our arms are in the perfect position for wrapping around our child. By offering our lap we deepen the possibilities for expressing love, acceptance and presence.
The LOVE in our Laps
In the late sixties, the Beatles warbled, “All You Need is Love.” There is a lot of truth in that simple wisdom. Yet you may feel, oh, if it was that easy! While there may indeed appear to be a lack of love in many parts of our lives and the outer world, the mothering journey can be filled with love. Most of us want to be as loving with our children as we can be. At times though, we can more easily extend our love to our little ones than ourselves.
Yet, we need love too! One way to connect with love of self is through the practice of gratitude. If we look around at our lives, there is always something to be grateful for. A smile, a kind thought, the sound of the rain, the feeling of the blood pumping through our veins, the feel of our cat’s fur etc. How about the fact that we are alive? At times with life’s distractions, we act as if we have forever. The truth is that we have this day; the gift of the present moment. We can choose, in this moment, to fill our time with acts of love for self and others. Love begins with us!
Here are some suggestions for very simple acts of self-love. Walk by a mirror and smile at yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back for cooking dinner. Feel the pleasure of helping a friend in need. Congratulate yourself for any accomplishment of the day. Reward yourself for keeping a commitment like eating healthier, exercising, or organizing the clutter. Finally, how about feeling love for yourself not because you do anything special but just because you are here; you are showing up for life; you are you!
Children learn by example. We teach our children how to love themselves by being more loving towards ourselves. We can praise our children to build self-esteem yet if they do not see us having healthy self-esteem, they receive a mixed message. If they don’t see us loving ourselves, how will they even know that loving yourself is important? We all need to learn to love ourselves. It’s an inside job. Sometimes we look to another to complete us and love us. The truth is that we need to complete ourselves.
The ACCEPTANCE in our Laps
“Give yourself a big good morning hug,” I suggest to the preschoolers in my care. They wrap their little arms around themselves, inhaling and beaming love. These little people are un-self-conscious. They haven’t yet learned the confusion between self-acceptance and self-centeredness. They haven’t been given a dogmatic message that to love and accept oneself is wrong. My task as an early childhood educator is to help them anchor self-acceptance and self-love before anyone else has a chance to talk them out of it.
One of our moms told me a story about how a small act of self-acceptance played out into her home. She was cooking dinner one night and the phone rang. She was distracted by the call and subsequently burnt the family’s dinner. Sensing her overwhelm, her three-year-old daughter exclaimed, “Mom, you need to hug yourself right now! Do it!” They sat on the floor together for a few minutes, arms wrapped around themselves, then each other. Afterwards, they ordered take-out food. What could have become a disaster turned into an accepting mistake.
Many of us feel that in order for us to accept ourselves, things need to be just as we want them to be; we demand perfection. When things don’t turn out as we imagine, we whine and pout. We place limitations on ourselves. “I can’t accept myself because then things won’t change. See how miserable I am? Things have to change now, don’t they?”
Life changes easiest when we are gentle with ourselves. Self-acceptance means that we are exactly who we are supposed to be while we are becoming who we choose to be. We can want things to be different, yet we accept where we are. Every day provides a new opportunity for growth and change. Self-acceptance makes our jobs a whole lot easier.
The PRESENCE in our Laps
We are born connected: connected to our Source, connected to Spirit, to the God/Goddess Force, to a Higher Power. Call it what you want. We are born from the non-physical essence; the creative force of the Universe. As an infant, our connection to that Source is palpable. We have not yet been domesticated.
We are born worthy. We don’t need to do anything to earn that worth. We are enough. Slowly, through the process of socialization (what is right, what is wrong, what is accepted), most of us begin to feel disconnected from that strong, healing connection to Source. We feel separate from Source. We feel separate from others. The days blur as we focus on our outward existence. We need to survive and make a living. Mundane things like the trash needing to be emptied take up our time and focus. We become human doings, not human beings.
Too often, we neglect our interiors for the demands of life’s exteriors. We are so caught up in all of the activities that we lose focus on our core feelings and sense of connectedness. Feeling a sense of peace, a sense of connectedness, is an inside job. We could all benefit from a daily practice of reconnecting to Source.
I tell you this in full confidence that it is true. “You are enough. Your child is enough.” Isn’t it a worthy, daily goal to have your child experience that when he is with you, he knows with absolute certainty that he is enough. Inner peace comes from knowing you are totally okay in this moment, no matter what.
Busy Mothers need a time to stop and BE. We need to feel the radiance of a new day and to feel our connection to something bigger than ourselves. “Are you kidding?” you may be thinking as you read this, “when on earth am I going to find this time?” I know life is busy but this commitment to us doesn’t take a lot of time, only a few minutes. It doesn’t need to be a big deal. Yet without taking time for ourselves we are bound to feel fried not fueled!
There are many ways to connect to Source. Some people meditate, pray, or sit quietly. A simple altar or table holds meaningful objects and creates a place to worship. A candle, some incense, a special chair: all create a sense of sacredness. You may simply read an inspirational passage or affirmation like the Bless You Mom cards and focus on the thought.
As you stop and connect, you are demonstrating a valuable lesson for your child; self care and sacredness. Perhaps your child will sit with you or alongside of you. Maybe they’ll mimic your chosen method of quieting yourself. In doing this, you are teaching inner focus.
A walk in Nature reconnects us with the sun, the earth, the elements. Just a few minutes sitting in the sun can feel like replenishing your battery. A dose of love here, a bit of acceptance there, a few drops of presence: all of these ingredients help us Moms create ease and space in our lives. The days will continue to pass. Why not create some lap time today for you and your child?
Be thankful for another day on planet Earth, another day with your child, another day in your own skin.
Excerpted from ‘A Circle of Mothers’ a book in progress by Harmony Rose West www.blessyoumom.com