Here I am, just turned 60, and I feel as if I've come full circle in my life. Have you ever felt that way? Like you're back at the beginning, right where you started?
This week I announced the launch of my new book, The Mindful Mommy's Back-to-School Survival Guide, and the subject was a surprise to many. A book for young moms? Really, Jan?
My average reader is between 45 and 60. When we're together (online or in-person) we usually talk about mid-life and finally coming to know ourselves. The rigors of Menopause is another thing we often gab about. :-) And our grandkids!
So why a book for mothers?
For me, it's more than just a fondness for mothers, or wanting to help make life a little easier for them by teaching about the values of mindfulness. It's because I am a "forever mother." My children will always be my children and I consistently think like a mommy. My youngest child is only 23. (Do the math. I didn't have her until I was 37.) So, literally, I am still a "Mindful Mommy" on a day-to-day basis, doing all that I can to live mindfully so I help her navigate her life with greater ease too!
The other reason is I continue to be passionate about mindfulness. Mindfulness actually saved my life. I discovered it when I was 41 and my daughter was 4. She was my "mindful child." Or at least my experiment in mindful parenting. :-) When she was born I was stretched to the max (pun intended) because I also had a 5 and 7-year-old at home. I didn't know up from down most days and 99% of the time operated on overload. I recall feeling like I could never catch my breath; worry and anxiety were frequent guests. Longterm tress had resulted in significant health issues. Mindfulness rescued me from my perpetually whacked out self.
I can remember the exact day I shifted: Reading the soul-balming words of Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh that it was ok (and advisable) to do just one thing at a time. Really? Really? I could do that? To be given permission to stop multi-tasking, breathe, and get in touch with myself on a moment to moment basis felt like being let out of prison. Hallelujah!
For the next few years I dove headlong into living mind-FULLY. The practice transformed the person I'd known myself to be for the first 1/3 of my life. It restored my health, renewed my faith in life, and I became a much better person and mother.
The full circle part of this story? In 1998 when I wrote my first book, Coming Home to Ourselves (the result of 4 years of mindfulness practice), I geared it towards young mothers—because I was still one myself—and I have always written and taught about what I've most recently learned.
So here I am, at 60, back in the circle with young mothers and loving it, serving as mentor and guide. I'm pretty sure there are some lives that need "saving" like mine—or at least sanity restored. Motherhood is the most difficult job in the world. Even though my kids are older (23, 29 and 31) parenting is still the most challenging work I've ever done. And also the most fulfilling.
Given any role to play in life, Mindful Mommy would be my first choice. I love being a mother and if I had to pick one thing to be written on my tombstone at the end of my days, it would reflect this. My hope is that it would read, "She loved her children with her whole heart."