A long time ago, well before Mushroom’s arrival, Mr B and I were having a ‘discussion’ about something that was bothering me. He didn’t appear to appreciate the importance of the issue (which was so important that I now can’t remember it), simply nodding as I spoke (what was I expecting, exactly?) so, incensed at his lack of response, I shouted ‘Don’t you care that this will (insert irrelevant consequence here)!’ like a petulant teenager.

Mr B looked at me, nodded as if agreeing with some internal dialogue and said ‘You know what [Mushroom’s Grandad] would say?’ This threw me (I needed to be thrown)… What did my father-in-law have to do with this? I sighed ‘what?’ I snapped, ‘would he say?’ A smile danced in Mr B’s eyes. Adopting a more laid back pose and a strong Jamaican accent, he said:

‘Dats ‘ow it go sometime y’nuh.’

I burst out laughing. This was to become the sentence that would end many an argument between us, reducing pointless discussions to what they were. It’s another way of saying ‘It is what it is,’ or ‘This is life.’ Accept it and set yourself free. The Zen Buddhists already know this.

So, what has this got to do with parenting? Well,I have just finished reading Momma Zen*’s Momma ZenWalking the Crooked Path of Motherhood, and much of what she says brought to to mind the image of my husband delivering this line with a deadpan face, knowing it will always bring me back to ‘us.’

Momma Zen’s book is not a parenting manual – far from it. Instead, she introduces the idea of parenthood as a sort of spiritual practice, gently unburdening us from our ideas of what Motherhood should be and reminding us, frequently, to – and I quote a line from the book (although she says this in many different ways) – ‘Focus on what is in front of you.’ One of my favourite paragraphs from the book sums it all up:

‘You don’t have to work so hard at this. You don’t have to do so much. You don’t have to endeavour 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.’

What a liberating idea. I am trying to live by this, taking each day as it comes by taking care of what is in front of me and, importantly,  allowing myself to ‘fail’ sometimes along the way. Of course I don’t ‘get it right,’ that often but I am trying. On those days that I forget that no effort is required and work too hard at being (see how ridiculous that sounds?), lose my temper with Mushroom and apologise but continue to berate myself for it even though for him it’s long forgotten, all I need to remind me is this: When recounting the story to Mr B,  he just needs to respond with ‘Well, dats ‘ow it go sometime y’nuh.’

*Karen Maezen Miller