I ask myself this question at least once a day: How can I be a more mindful parent? And then, how can I translate my experience?
I see this as my life's greatest calling, not being the perfect mommy, but being the most mindful mommy that I can be. I of course would love to be a perfect mommy, since it is the most important job I could have, who wouldn't want to do it perfectly? But despite my desire, I can accept the futility of this endeavor. I can't be the perfect mom anymore than I can be the perfect wife, perfect doctor, perfect woman. It still makes it hard when I do something that is not perfect, when I make a mistake in how I speak to my son, or when I give in to his demand to watch a movie even though I told him 'no'. When I do something wrong, it is comforting to know that the mistakes are part of the growth, both for myself and for my son. The difficulties in life, the struggles, the errors, I cannot make them disappear. I cannot make my son's life perfect any more than I can make myself into the perfect mother.
Instead, I have to help him navigate the waters of disappointment, frustration, mistakes and hurts. And to help him see them as a vehicle for growth and enlightenment. I tell myself that each mistake, each less-then-ideal moment is a chance for me to grow as a person, to see the world in a new way, and hence, to show my son how to cope with imperfections and mistakes... with a positive attitude and clear vision.
How to be a mindful parent... my most recent lesson is to ADMIT WHEN YOU ARE WRONG. Admit when you make a mistake, even to your children. They appreciate the vulnerability, and it is healthy for them to see the struggles and challenges we do through. Model humility. Let them see you make mistakes and apologize to them when you wrong them. Celebrate these moments as a way to show your children how to solve problems, how to cope with a problem, or how to be vulnerable with their feelings.
I was listening to my son yesterday as he was playing in the kitchen, mumbling to himself as he typically does. I heard him in the midst of a conversation with himself say, "oops, try it again", in response to dropping a ball. Again, "oops, sorry try again". I smiled inwardly. I have been trying to teach him by telling him that if he falls down (which generally upsets him), it's OK, if you fall down, get back up and try it again. We never know how much of the words that we say actually get through to our children, but I know for sure that children observe every action they see, and they absorb so much of their environment. If we can model the behavior of making mistakes and not letting it deter us, it is better than saying it again and again.