It’s almost Spring. That means we’re all sick with a cold or allergies or sinus infections or the winter doldrums….
today, I lost my temper. I yelled at the kids. I’m not sure I feel completely bad about it. Sometimes, there’s no other way to convey to them the urgency of the situation. We were in heavy traffic and I was trying to read a map. One of them was going on and on about chocolate milk. Nobody was feeling well, including myself.
I yelled. It was ugly.
I did try to explain myself, but I’m never really sure what affect it all has.
The Buddha reminds us that sickness, samsara, and intense emotions that over take us are all indications that we don’t really belong to our bodies. We aren’t our bodies. There is no real me, but in motherhood, one does own their actions.
And I made sure to stop and really feel the gratitude and awe in my heart when my kids told me what a great mom I was and brought me dandelion flowers. They are leaning on me heavily (as children do) right now because they are all ill. I carried several tired boys up the stairs to the bathtub this evening. Instead of feeling frustrated or giving in to the feeling of tiredness, I simply held tight to wonder and gratitude. Such strong and healthy bodies they have- full of good nourishment, a decent home, and comfortable with their parents. They feel love and joy enough to be little pests. They are endlessly inquisitive…that part really makes a constant impact on me. They have such strong spirit.
I don’t own them. They aren’t MY children. They are simply children, people of their own, depending on me to be as humble and gracious as possible.
Yeah. It’s a broken bowl. It’s a Royal Austria O&EG bowl. It was my great grandmother’s..she gave it to me shortly before she died.
UPS broke it. But it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a bowl.
I’m able to say that NOW- two days later. At the time I was pretty fucking pissed. It holds sentimental value that is absolutely priceless.
My husband said he would glue it back together.
My grandmother would have said, in this situation…go buy another bowl.
It’s an attachment to an object, to be sure. It is the cause of my suffering, of course. What does the Buddha say about attachments to “stuff” ???
like grass after rain
For anyone overcome by this miserable craving
And clinging to the world.
Sorrow falls away
Like drops of water from a lotus
For anyone who overcomes this miserable craving
And clinging to the world.”
It’s a funny thing nowadays- clinging. I am able to recognize it, when it arises (which is pretty big progress, right?) That doesn’t mean I’m always successful in not giving in to the desires and attachments to happiness and meaningless objects that probably make me borderline hoarderish. I do get over shit much more quickly though…I’m able to say, “That doesn’t matter- it’s not real.” And I was even nice to the UPS guy today when he came to apologize.
I don’t raise my children as Buddhists or Atheists. We just don’t raise them as anything “religious.” They are free to explore religion on their own and come to their own conclusions. As they get older, they will be more inquisitive and I will help them find the proper sources for the answers they seek.
This is a tender age for them now. I must be very calculating in what I say and how I say it, as I don’t want to shape their opinions surrounding religious topics.
Today, during homeschool, we were reading “Little House in the Big Woods.” The family was celebrating Christmas, and read their Bible around the fire. My children wanted to know what “The Bible” was, and why the children weren’t allowed to talk or play on Sundays.
So began the delicate dance of giving them just-enough information. It went something like this:
“Well, Christians read the Bible. They go to church to be with other Christians and to listen to stories from the Bible. The Bible tells stories about God and Jesus. Christians believe that God and Jesus can do powerful and magical things.”
My middle child asked, “Like superheroes?”
Me, trying to hide a smile, “Yes, just like superheroes. And some people don’t believe that superheroes are real, right? Well, some people don’t believe that God is real either, but some people do.”
Then he got very serious and said, “Well mama, policemen and firefighters are the REAL superheroes.”
So much wisdom for someone so small.
Look at this beautiful mossy stuff growing on my front porch step:
Sure is determined, isn’t it? Without much to work with, it still manages to flourish. Even with the lashing it gets day in and day out, from several pairs of little feet…it carries on as if it shouldn’t be any other way.
It’s inspiring, really. Especially on days like today, which was a particularly aggravating day. The children have developed attitudes and hurtful words that even take ME by surprise. I stepped out into the rare sunshine with them today and snapped a few pictures, did a bit of gardening. Mostly though, I stared at this bit of greenery in wonder and appreciation.
Strength. Resilience. Perseverance.
At the end of the evening I wonder what filled my day up. Most of the time, I have no idea. In fact, it feels monotonous and uneventful. It’s a horrible notion to feel like you’ve wasted another day of a short life. I’ve been giving this idea a lot of thought lately. Usually I ponder this idea while I’m meditating…I can’t help it, it’s usually just the thoughts that are stacked on top of each other. I am left feeling anxious far too often as the lights turn out and I force my eyes to close. I’ve considered making a list of the things I do everyday…this seems like a monumental task and I brush it off as either being a waste of time or narcissistic. How odd, yes? I’ve done “nothing,” and yet writing down all the things I did do would be too much.
The real issue is that my “nothings” are my children. What have I been doing all day everyday for the last 7 and a half years? Parenting. That should be enough. Why isn’t it? I don’t know yet. I’m getting there. But what I do know is that my kids aren’t just “nothing.” Parenting is valuable and important. They have value, they are real. I know this. Why my soul has yet to get on board with this completely escapes me. Sure, we can blame it on culture or technology or money or any number of things. I think, though, that maybe my soul is just uncomfortable with feeling like it is enough. Human nature, maybe. Or maybe my soul is still a spoiled brat, resisting the act of letting go of attachments. Naturally. I would expect nothing else at this point. I’m being realistic.
My children have been the most spiritual thing to have happen to me. It sounds cliche, to be sure. But I found Buddhism through my children. I found my inner strength through autism. I found my absolute joy each time I give birth and yes, even by chasing them around the house to get the mud off their toes. It isn’t always this way, of course. And that’s why it is so powerful…they push me to be better, to be more mindful, more patient (or patient at all!), to examine my motives behind every word and action. They’ve taught me the value in holding my tongue and letting things be. They’ve taught me to let go of desires and wants and anxiety over the small things…even the seemingly “big” things.
Sometimes I lose my footing. I have to retrace my steps to find the path again. That’s alright. They will be there tomorrow to lead the way…and for that, I am truly blessed.