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March 27, 2017

On cultivating patience: conversations with my son

Like children do, moms need patience too sometimes

Parenting Motherhood
Mom Tosses Toddler 08032019 Photo by Thiago Cerqueira/on Unsplash


“Mama, will you dream of me when I’m at Julie’s?”

We are driving. Soon, I’ll be dropping you off at my friend’s home. Julie watches you while I teach my weekly prenatal yoga class. You love playing with her two children and I know you are in good hands.

"Mama, will you dream of me when I’m at Julie’s?"

Your question pulls my attention away from my to-do list and the crafting of an outline for the upcoming class. I look at you through the rearview mirror. You are sitting in your carseat,  nearly 4 years old. You watch me.

“Yes, I’ll be thinking of you when you are at Julie’s and I’m teaching yoga, for sure.”

“No, in your heart, dream of me,” you reply. You touch your chest with both hands while speaking to emphasize your point. In your heart, dream of me. Now, I’m paying attention.

When teaching prenatal yoga, I often guide pregnant women to place their hands on their hearts as a way to calm the busy mind and intuit the promptings of inner wisdom. Such mindfulness practices help strengthen us to cultivate patience – patience for ourselves and patience with the energies of waiting, transformation, and change. I realize as I drive, that you are my greatest yoga teacher.

“Yes,” I say, finally answering your inquiry. I soften my gaze and smile gently. 

“In my heart, I dream of you. All the time.” 

You nod and smile, too. It’s a broad and confident smile. Then, you shift your attention to the ever-moving stream of traffic outside of the backseat windows. Our busy world rushes by.

We drive in peaceful silence and I wonder. I wonder what it is like for you to be away from me and trust that I return. I wonder how knowing I think of you, indeed, dream of you in my heart, provides strength for the waiting. I consider how much patience it takes to endure missing someone. I consider how hard that can be. My eyes fill with tears.

I’ve worked with mothers-to-be struggling with patience, with waiting, as they near their time of delivery. I’ve supported families through pregnancy loss and the death of infants – a time when experiencing any semblance of patience in the midst of grief’s agony exhausts the spirit. I’ve watched my own mind jump a thousand steps ahead of itself upon encountering difficulty. It’s easy to want to “fix” hard and painful things, rather than trust that by slowing down, a deeper, guiding wisdom will dawn. And dawn it will, whether we hold space for birth, death, or the moments in between.

It’s easy to want to 'fix' hard and painful things, rather than trust that by slowing down, a deeper, guiding wisdom will dawn."

How can we hold space for life’s transitions? How can we cultivate patience?

Certainly, engaging in mindfulness practices as a family helps. Yet, keeping our vital heart connections alive in a busy and hurried world is key. Knowing that those we most love hold us in their hearts, especially in their absence buoys us. Whenever I go through heartache, disappointment, anger, or loss -- or struggle to wait patiently for time to pass in order to see a beloved one again -- I strive to take refuge in the knowledge of love’s steadfastness. I imagine myself surrounded by those who love me and this visualization gives me strength. Love gives shape and purpose to our living. As Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote: “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” I see that even those who are very young intuit this truth.

I turn onto Julie’s road and I look at you again through the rearview mirror. Our conversations anchor me. They remind me that each moment is fleeting, irreplaceable, and hence, I need to pay more attention to what truly matters. Listening to you pose your simple and heartfelt questions reminds me of the big picture: how I love you.

Do you hear me?

When this world feels too heavy to bear, when the ugliness of confusion, violence, and sadness threaten your very sense of what is meaningful in life, please remember this powerful and visceral foundation of love from which you were cradled, nurtured, and born.

You are loved. That’s what I want you to remember in your heart. Hold it there with both hands. For just as you need to know that I dream of you, I need you to remember how much you are loved. Our love is a secure base upon which you receive the tools to craft a healthy and meaningful life. Love is a constant source, a ballast of calming strength in busy and difficult seas. Whether you refer to love as a divine force, a living God, or simply the compassion of an open heart, may love give you patience.

When I look into my heart, I’m dreaming of you there.

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