Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Art of "Momfulness"

This week is Vacation Bible School at our church. It's always a lot of work ... but also a lot of fun. I enjoy doing music with the kids, teaching them the little ditties my mother used to sing with us. This year, we're learning about Moses, so one of the songs goes like this:

How did Moses cross the Red Sea? (march, march)
Did he swim? No, no. (swing arms like windmills)
Did he sail? No, no. (did they even have pontoons on the Red Sea? I don't know.)
Did he fly? No, no, no, no! (make like a bird)
Did he run? No, no. (Well, maybe a bit when Pharaoh was chasing him.)
Did he row? No, no.
How did he get across?
God blew with the wind (puff, puff, puff, puff)
He blew just enough (nuff, nuff, nuff, nuff)
And through the sea he made a path (big arm effects).
That's how he got across!
All that sailing and running and puffing ... It's the perfect metaphor for Bible school week, isn't it? Of course, my kids always seem to sense when I'm needed elsewhere, and choose that precise moment to hang around my waist like little grass skirts. Augh!!!

But this week, I cannot raise my voice. Not if I'm going to teach music all week ... And so, I practice what Denise Roy (author of My Monastery is a Minivan) calls Momfulness (Jossey Bass Publishers). That's the art of stepping back, assessing both the situation and my own reaction to it, and making a deliberate choice to breathe and live fully in that moment without rushing ahead to the next one.

Its New-Agey cover notwithstanding, this book is a helpful resource for Mommy Monsters everywhere (those of us who struggle with temper). I wish I'd had it five years ago, when I really struggled to keep things in perspective. While it would have been even better if she had tied the exercises more firmly to the Catholic monastic tradition, the mental disciplines she describes are important for all mothers to acquire in order to maintain the serenity every household needs.

If you find yourself blowing up or raising your voice unnecessarily, pick up a copy. You'll be glad you did.

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