The alarm sounds. Fortunately for me it is still summer and I have the luxury of an extra hour of sleep. I know well there is a small window of time before the kids will need breakfast, the dogs will need walking, and the rest of the day’s “to do” list must commence.
Turning off the incessant buzz, I close my eyes and begin quiet prayer. Gratitude first, because, after all, I have been given the opportunity of a new day. Deep appreciation for the most important part of my life…my husband and kids. I ask God to help me practice patience, integrity, and compassion in all I encounter. I ask Him to watch over us as we go about our work and our play. I finish by requesting extra courage, grace, and strength for those who are struggling physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
It’s a simple means to start the day, but as I make our bed I know I have triggered authenticity. I feel this more deeply every time I practice quiet gratitude and reflection. I know, because for years I didn’t take the time to be thankful for both the roses and thorns of my life. When the alarm went off (or, for many, many years when my children would cry out in need) I would immediately jump into action, attending to the emergency of life, rather than gently allowing the moment to envelop and invite me into it’s potential.
Months passed before I really began to both see and feel the affect of my morning ritual during the day. What helped was not getting impatient with myself when I failed to see results right away. In our culture we are conditioned to expect immediate gratification, but lasting change takes the investment of time and energy.
There have been many benefits to my daily practice, including building closer and healthier relationships with my family. For example, my daughter tends dawdle in the morning, yet through this practice I have developed an ability to stay calm, even when there is a lot going on, which helps her to keep a level head when faced with time constraints. Then there’s my husband, who tends to be high strung during the work week, he has made it a point to tell me my laid-back, no drama approach to life helps give him balance. I have to agree, the greatest gift this “before-my-feet-hit-the-floor” practice gives me is an awareness to arrive fully present to those most important in my life (yes, even the dogs).
This ritual extends beyond our breakfast and pre-school routine, I have found the cultivation of gratitude that begins as I wake up now continues throughout the day. Instead of getting frustrated when there are only two lanes open at the busy grocery store, I choose to be grateful I can readily pick up the food items our family needs without excessively worrying about the cost. Instead of spending undue time on social media in the evening, I decide to take our dogs on an extra long walk, listening to the sounds of the neighborhood as it quiets down for the night.
As a parent, we are an emotional compass for our children. To be fully in touch with their needs, we must be centered in our own lives. As Dr. Shefali shares in her book, The Conscious Parent, “Only to the degree we as parents are attuned to our own being will we know how to help our children attune themselves to their unique essence.”
Prayer and reflection first thing each morning means even in the midst of my (often) daily chaos I find the desire and awareness to conjure and vibrate inner peace. Accepting some days this will be easier to practice than others is vital. Making mental note at the end of each day as to where I was able to truly connect with my spouse and/or children helps me to evaluate my progress. Understanding I will never have a perfect day is a key ingredient to my overall success.
The more moments we can piece together consciousness of, and presence in, our interactions with others, the greater the opportunity for them to respond to us with their own unique and beautiful soul. And the best outward connections are first developed through of a deep connection within.
Guest blog written by: Kimberly Muench
Kimberly Muench is a freelance writer who published her autobiography My Mothers Footprints: A Story of Faith, Calm, Courage, Patience and Grace in 2011. She has been a regular contributor to Suburban Parent Magazine in Dallas/Fort Worth, crafts a newspaper column entitled Something to Muench on, has been published through a number of parenting sites including Huffington Post, 10 to 20 Parenting, Mamapedia. University of Moms and A Fine Parent. In addition, Kimberly writes weekly on her own website www.mymothersfootprints.com about faith, family, marriage and personal growth. Kimberly is a wife and mother to five children who hails from Wisconsin, but now makes her home in Texas.