Momma Zen | Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood   by Karen Maezen Miller

pg. 7 

" The life of a mother is the life of a child: you are two blossoms on a single branch.  It's only my egocentric point of view that is limited -- the view that I am over here and she is over there driving me crazy.  To be a fuller, a more compassionate and even-minded mother, live as though there were no gap and become the child. "


pg. 8

" Time and again you'll be stripped of your preconceptions, judgments, ideas, theories and opinions of motherhood and left to go straight on through the inexplicable experience itself.  These gulfs of incomprehension bring the opportunity for spiritual growth and self-acceptance. "


pg. 10

" There is a certain attitude, perhaps unavoidable, that most of us seem to adopt as we grow up.  It is a kind of self-satisfied conclusion that our parents didn't love us.  Oh, they might have loved us, but they didn't love us enough.  They didn't love us the right way.  The didn't love us just so.  Have your own child and you will penetrate into the utter absurdity of that idea.  You will love your child as your parents loved you and their parents loved them.  With a love that is humbling and uncontrived, immense and indestructible.  Parents err, of course, and badly.  They can be ignorant, foolish, mean and far worse, in ways that you can come to forgive in them and try to prevent in yourself.  But this whole-sale shortage of parental love at the crux of everyone's story must be the product of shabby and self-serving recollections.  Now that you are a mother, set that story aside, forgetting everything you thought you knew about love. "

- I couldn't pick just one part of this paragraph, it is too right-on to leave any part of it out.


pg. 15

" From its first bloated moment, pregnancy had seemed to me a lesson in losing it, a lesson in letting go.  So it is.  Can you imagine any other scenario in which you would pack on fifty extra pounds and never once pause to flick a speck of powdered sugar off your doughnut?  Where you would fall so effortlessly, so helplessly to sleep before sunset? …  it all comes down to letting go. "

- YES! Goodness, yes! 


pg. 25

"We can handle anything when we exchange our worries and fears for alertness and spontaneity, when we focus solely on what is in front of us, and when we leap into the sheer wonder of the unplanned life. "


pg. 34

"Singing was not something that I was otherwise prone to.  I'm not about to do anything that I'm not 'good' at, and no on head asked me to sing since third-grade choir.  This new singing was a kind of mindless chirping spring from -- where exactly? It was sometime later that I recognized singing as the entry point to pure being, an utterly empty, nonthinking state of mind that is the ultimate coping strategy.  Every moment I was humming along, letting the music and words tumble out, was a moment I wasn't thinking dreary thoughts.  I wasn't thinking anything at all.  

"Singing also activates another overlooked coping strategy: breathing.  Singing is breathing, and breathing lis life. "


pg. 39

"Motherhood could be an unflattering mirror, and I resolved every day to try harder and be softer.  Be kind to yourself and others. "


pg. 40

" What is a mistake without the self-critical label?  It is just what it is.  It is always perfection in action -- not perfect as in better than something else but perfect as in complete.  Your actions need nothing -- not analyzing, not punishment, not instant replay.  It is impossible not to do your best, you just don't think it's your best. "

-I really love how she incorporated her Buddhism into her book, how she uses her experiences as a mother and helps the reader to incorporate some simple but profound Buddhist ideals, all for the betterment of ourselves as people and as parents.


pg. 41

" Practice acceptance on yourself so you can be kinder with your child.  Practice nonjudgmental awareness of your life so you can save your loved ones from the cruelty of your own impossible standards and your hard-hearted disappointment.  Practice greater faith and lesser blame.  Take this blink of time when you are still stumbling at the gate, still awkward at the tasks, to turn down the sound and tumble freely in a state of grace. 

" Life is full of fits and starts.  Some things are easy; some are not.  Some things go and some things stop.  Do your work; then set it down.  There are no failures.  Forgive and forget yourself. "


pg. 51

" Your child is a tireless teacher, constantly probing  your self-imposed limits and boundaries, your self-centeredness, your sheer stubbornness.  It is a thankless job, and who would want it?  But each day your child comes to work again, taking up the monumental task. "

-Certainly a new way of looking at it! 


pg. 64

" Are you aware that your breathing weaves a uniform pattern, your heart beats in faultless cadence, and your body functions in continuous, self-regulated flow? Your baby doesn't need you to impose a schedule, least of all one from a Web site or a book; your baby is a schedule of sequential events at predictable times.  What she needs is for you to see it.  Your baby doesn't need an imperious schedule maker but an attentive timekeeper. "


pg. 73

" I can trust that everything my family truly needs -- every opportunity my daughter needs to fulfill herself -- is already present and will be.  Satisfaction is never the future outcome of some hoped-for event.  Satisfaction always lies right where you are. "


pg. 84

" When you can do anything as though you work at nothing, you have the best days of your life. "


pg. 85

" When you're not looking, you will spoon-feed your child all of your hang-ups about food.  Even if you are looking, you will still do it. "


pg. 87

" Letting food be food means that when your child eats, that's all there is to it.  When he doesn't eat, that's all there is to it.  When he has a cookie, that's all there is to it.  When he has homemade steamed organic yams mashed by your own doting hands, that's all there is to it. "


pg. 100 

" I lose it all the time.  We all lose it all the time.  The point is not that we lose our cool, the point is how quickly we find it again. "


pg. 102

" Want your child to learn to handle difficult emotions and overcome fears?  Then do likewise.  Express yourself calmly, own up to your feelings, and don't be afraid to be honest.  If you don't believe you have the capacity to administer your child's welfare, he or she won't believe it either.  Want your child to be good?  Then be good. "


pg. 107

" Words are magic.  All words are, not just please and thank you.  The words my daughter will use are the ones she hears; the words I want to her to use she must hear from me.  So when I'm alarmed by her annoying use of the imperative, her bossy instructions to me whiteout the sweetening of a 'please,' I listen to myself for a while.  How much of what I say to her is a curt command?  Nearly all of it. "


pg. 129

"Children are exemplars of the art of being.  Wherever they are, they are completely immersed: in mud, in make-believe, in laughter, in tears, or in spaghetti sauce up to their eyeballs.  Without a bit of self-consciousness, they lose themselves in what they are; they literally throw themselves away.  This is the kind of losing in which everything is found.

"We, on the other hand, rarely lose ourselves in activity but we are plenty lost nonetheless.  We lose ourselves in mental distractions; we disconnect our words from our actions.  Caught up in our own nonstop internal commentary, we confuse what is happening in our heads with what is really happening.  We habitually choose to do this because our thoughts seem to be so much more entertaining, elevating, urgent and important that what is occurring in front of us.  I didn't want to play in her make-believe because I was too busy concocting my own.  Leave it to an intractable preschooler to point out what was obvious except to me: thinking is not at all the same as being. "

-another couple of paragraphs that would be less powerful only a sentence at a time.  

pg. 130

" We mistakenly think everything is produced by thought, when in fact thinking only produces more thinking!  What you really accomplish in your day you do almost entirely without thinking: breathing, digesting, standing, moving about,, writing, driving, scratching your head, speaking, sorting laundry, screaming, sweeping floors, making dinner from limp celery and garbanzo beans, sewing miniature mermaid fins from a turquoise sock.  Untold, countless, miraculous, and utterly unfathomable deeds. "


pg. 138

"The power of intuition moves through a mother like a silent and gathering storm, amassing such potency, such precision, that when you stop searching elsewhere for the answers, they begin to appear in certitude before you.  These are not always the answers that you want -- and to that degree you might overlook them in hopeful confusion. But they are sufficient to correct your direction if you trust your eyes, ears, and gut. "


pg. 145

"You don't have to work so hard at this.  You don't have to do so much.  You don't have to endeavor to be natural, normal and good.  It happens by itself when you least expect it.  If you are confused about what you should be doing, try this.  Stop what you are doing.  Take care of what is in front of you, when it is in front of you, and the confusion will pass.  This is called the effort of no effort.  No effort is what powers the universe. 

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-this one, I will put up on my wall.  


pg. 150

" Your life is a garden.  And you are the only gardener."


pg. 158

" There are many things you can do in life, but the things that you accomplish are those to which you commit."


pg. 164

"Happy matters most of all.  And here's the surprise ending.  You don't have to wait for happiness, because there's no time but now to be happy.  You don't have to go somewhere else, because there's no place but here to find it.  You don't' have to do something else, because there's nothing more to it.  You don't have to get something else, because everything you already have is enough.  You just have to be happy. "


pg. 165

"When you drop your expectations, lose your selfishness, forget your grievances, give up your worries, abandon the plan, stop your stirring, let it out, let it go, let things pass, take a breath, take a break, quiet down, be still, empty your mind, open your heart, and come alive, what else is there to be but happy?  If you can answer otherwise, it's time to read the is paragraph again and see what you've overlooked. "

-I can not imagine a better way to end this summary! 


 © Houseman 2013