You might wonder how I got here, with spit up cascading down my back and drinking a beer for dinner in my middle son’s room while rocking a baby to sleep.
Mindfulness, that’s how. It’s all the fault of mindfulness.
“Mindfulness!” I thought, hearing the word thrown about in some progressive parenting circles. “That’s what our family needs, to be more mindful. Deep breaths could quell tantrums! Meditation could help them stop spinning around like they’re auditioning for HGTV’s demolition crews.
And maybe it could have. Maybe mindfulness would’ve been the answer. After all, the sleep relaxation audio book I have blaring at the top of my phone speaker’s capabilities seems to be working. At the very least, it’s drowning out the trying to stay awake noises coming from my oldest child’s room.
“Mindfulness is the art of being present in the current moment, intensely noticing and experiencing the world around you,” I read. Sounds simple enough, I thought. And being present in the current moment probably would’ve been a great place to start.
But I didn’t start there. I started with glitter.
If I have one piece of parenting advice, it would be to never allow glitter to cross your home’s threshold. If I had a second, it would be to parent before Pinterest was invented.
On Pinterest, one may unfortunately come across a craft called a “mindfulness jar,” an apparent “timeout alternative” for people whose kids probably never actually go in time out and do things like ask if they can have second helpings of kale for dinner.
The craft itself sounds simple enough – buy fancy looking water bottle, drink the fairy wing infused contents that merit buying a fancy plastic water bottle, fill with the glitter glue it took you three stores to find, add in some of Satan’s seed (I mean glitter), and fill plebeian tap water. Then watch your children gently meditate on the mysteries of water soluble solutions and gravity as they firmly resolve to never call you a poopy face again.
Unfortunately, upon reading the directions yesterday I had not firmly committed myself to mindfulness. And thus missed the part where it did not say to pour the entire contents of the glitter bottle into the overpriced water bottle. Should you do that, the contents of the glitter will not settle. Neither will your children who will have already moved on from this craft.
No problem, you think, impressed at the new found clarity that mindfulness has brought to your life. I will simply spread the contents out amongst a few mason jars. Because hello, mindful people use mason jars. Then I will have a half dozen mindfulness jars, exactly six more than I need seeing as how my kids have already declared them stupid and boring. Maybe I can sell them! I should really spread the good news to others about what mindfulness has brought to our family.
At this point, it should be noted, I am beginning to notice my world intensely.
I am really noticing how glitter has gotten everywhere – all over the sink, the table, the floor, and somehow even the baby’s diaper. I am really noticing how my plan to just water down the jars’ contents did not work, and now the new water will not mix with the old gluey mess. I am really noticing my blood pressure beginning to sky rocket. I am really noticing the baby projectile spitting up on the glitter covered floor. I am really noticing how I could’ve just brought some of these damn things on Etsy for like half the price. I am really noticing the very unmindful amount of tv my children have watched as I tried to get this done.
At this point, my children have become very aware of the present moment, and are especially tuned into the fact that they can say or do anything and my response will be to take deep mindful breaths until I hyperventilate and scream, “Just for the love eat your dinner and let’s get to bed!”
One child takes it upon himself to lay in the living room screaming that he can’t eat dinner because his knee hurts and can’t go to bed because he’s too hungry. When I finally convince him to go to the table, he takes several bites of whatever I grabbed out of the fridge and threw on their plates before deciding to apply a spoonful of applesauce directly to his brother’s pants.
At this point, the baby has begun to fervently whine that I should be meeting some basic need of hers. I also really notice how loud the kids who are playing volleyball outside are. I also wonder if it would be weird if I asked them if to watch the baby for just like ten minutes while I get the other two kid to sleep. I decide against it, and strap her to my back for the time being, hoping that whatever basic need she has isn’t being fed or getting her diaper changed because I just can’t right now. She promptly spits up.
Meanwhile, one child wonders outside completely naked to watch said volleyball game. He also screams that he can’t find his water bottle. “Mindfulness would probably help with remembering where you put stuff,” my brain snarks to itself.
I find the water bottle and fill it. It rolls off the bathroom counter onto the back of another child who is yelling at me from the floor to “WIPE HIS BUM AGAIN BUT BETTER THIS TIME IT’S STILL SQUISHY.”
We finally get into pajamas, and enjoy a few peaceful minutes of book reading before I realize an undisclosed child has spilled the contents of his water bottle all over his pajamas, and I have to change him again.
At this point, I am fully immersed in the present moment, which I can definitively say has gone to hell. I tell the kids if they get into their beds right now, they can have a chocolate muffin for breakfast.
I really notice bribery is an effective parenting technique.
My son screams I need to rock him to sleep. The baby screams that she is a baby and really should get some attention at some point today. I rock them both for about ten seconds before the older one climbs into his bed and passes out.
I decide to fully enjoy the present moment by having beer and ice cream for dinner. Let me know if anyone needs to buy a mindfulness jar. They really work.