What’s Up Doc? Zen Parenting

June 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm Leave a comment

Cathy Cassani Adams LCSW, CPC, CYT is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Certified Parent Coach and a Certified Yoga Teacher… and a mom!  Cathy has something to say, and SQ1 is listening & participating.  Check me out on Cathy’s radio show, Zen Parenting.  I’m the “parent resource of the week!”  Zen Parenting is about learning to trust your instincts, focus on what is working & finding a healthy life balance. As a Zen Parent, you practice Self Discovery and taking care of YOU becomes a gift to the entire family.

This is what Cathy Cassani Adams writes about in her books The Self-Aware Parent: 19 Lessons for Growing with Your Children  and The Self-Aware Parent Two: 23 More Lessons for Growing with Your Children (available on www.cathycassaniadams.com and Amazon) and as a writer/blogger for Chicago Parent Magazine.

I love the section in Cathy’s book about redefining the word productive and think your writing is fun and so approachable. Thanks for sharing this chapter with the SQ1 crowd!

My Tasks

By Cathy Cassani Adams, LCSW, CPC, CYT

An inevitable rite of passage for a new mom is finding a new definition for the word “productive.”  It can no longer mean how much you get done in a short amount of time because your time is no longer your own.  In the first couple months with my daughter “productive” simply meant that I was able to take a shower.  A child is born and so is a new set of rules on how to measure worth.

When I am with my children I am often stopped by older parents who say, “Enjoy this time, it goes so fast.”  I always appreciate these gentle reminders.  The thrill of checking things off my list and accomplishing work-related tasks will probably always appeal to me, but another part of me has developed a deep appreciation for the ever-changing and often unpredictable life as mom.
Lesson:  As a parent you may need to redefine productivity.  Parenting well necessitates slowing down, being present, and building a relationship.

As a working woman my worth was measured by my productivity. I had places to go and people to see. Completing tasks and reaching goals was the essence of my existence. I had a title, an office, and a purpose. I felt a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day and I felt worthy of my paycheck and my weekends. I knew who I was and I knew that all of my educational and previous work experiences had led up to this point. I had become who I had set out to be.

When I became a mother I had an identity crisis. I had no experience in this job and I was extremely insecure about my day-to-day experiences. Even if I created a task list it was almost impossible to cross things off—time was no longer my own. There was no predictability and no way to measure my productivity. I had stacks of parenting books all over the house and I was constantly calling more experienced mothers to alleviate my daily anxiety. I was a novice—I had started over. At 6:00 p.m. I would often wonder what I did all day. All I knew was that I was living on five hours of interrupted sleep and that I had kept my baby alive. Is that really all I had to show for myself?

Even when I was experiencing beautiful moments with my baby my mind would drift to her naptime when I would really get things done. While my baby slept I would accomplish the tasks that I deemed important. I would cross whatever I could off my list. I loved the natural high of getting things accomplished, but like a drug, it was never enough and I always wanted more. It often felt like I was just moving through the time with my baby so I could have more valuable time with my computer and my checklist. After all, this is how I had always measured the effectiveness of a day. I began to realize how detached I was from my new life. I was using an old set of rules and standards that did not work in my new situation. I no longer knew who I was or how to validate my importance.

After lots of time, intimate discussion, and personal contemplation I realized the distinct difference between work and parenting. At work you practice efficiency and demonstrate productivity, but when you parent you have to slow down and live in the moment. Effective parenting depends on becoming emotionally available and physically present with your child. Your worth is no longer measured by completed tasks and busy-ness; it is measured by picking up your child when she cries, having important conversation during dinner, and teaching your child why eating play dough is yucky.

My children are my teachers. Children only live in the present so I try to experience their world when we are together. For them, every experience is exciting and there is always something to learn. They repeat the same stories and they choose the same books over and over again. They enjoy unfolding freshly folded laundry, and building a tower and knocking it down is much more fun the tenth time. They have all the time in the world. At times my mind still drifts to time on my computer or the laundry that needs to be folded, but at least now I recognize these as second tier needs.  Feeding, bathing, and putting my kids to bed are a great way to end the day.

Making the choice to slow down with my child is a major shift from my previous life and I might always be a work in progress.  I have come to realize that part of parenthood is simply staying present enough to enjoy it.  Parenting is now the first and most important task on the list, yet it’s not something that I can actually complete.  This is something I am learning to embrace and appreciate at the same time.

Taken from The Self-Aware Parent: 19 Lessons for with Your Children, find it at www.cathycassaniadams.com or Amazon.com


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I love being called “Homemade Mother of the Week!” What’s Up Doc?

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