Posted in Buddhism, mothering

Possessed By Monsters

Yep. It’s true. I am.

Mothering is hard. No matter who, when, where, what. When a woman becomes a mother she disappears, her identity gone. Mothering is strapped onto her and she can’t get it off. No matter how she wrestles, wrangles, valiantly resists, it just snaps back onto her like a too-small swimming cap. POW!

Feeling this way does not in any way negate wanting and loving her children. No matter the mother, the she that existed before the firstborn entered the scene is permanently submerged, and her life is now lived from the backseat to the offspring front and center. This is how it is, and therefore how it should be. There is no changing it; no amount of arguing with reality will budge it.

But oh, those arguments with reality… that’s where the monsters show up. Monsters that throw tantrums even bigger than the three-year-old’s. Monsters that attack and blame the spouse or significant other. Monsters that punish children for being tired, hungry, cranky, perpetually needy. In other words, for being children.

Why resist children being children? Introspection and a lot of reading over the years has led me to the conclusion that we hate in others what we hate in ourselves (and I’m by no means the first to come to that conclusion). I have also observed that our individual “hot buttons” were wired in childhood by our primary caregivers. The adults who tended us, often in those most formative months and years before memory even begins, taught us what they could and could not accept by their responses to our behavior. Never mind that children experience rejection of behavior as rejection of self– that fact was unheard of until recent years and is still controversial in many circles. While the best method of teaching behavior is modeling, the primary method of teaching acceptable behaviors in a fear-based parenting model is reward/punishment. This builds an almost Pavlovian reaction a person may remain blissfully unaware of until it is triggered by the person’s own offspring. Then BAM! Out come the monsters!

Maybe I’m the only mother who struggles with this, but I am old enough to doubt that. The question I must ask is, how do I transform these reactions to my children that argue with reality and do not serve my or my children’s best interests?

I think the Buddhist tools of mindfulness and meditation are a mother’s best bets here. Mindfulness, in this case, requires simply bringing awareness to the feelings that emerge when triggered, without judgment. A regular meditation practice develops the ability to observe emotion in this way, without attachment. It is much easier to let negative feelings pass without getting stuck when judgment is eliminated from the equation. Judgment is energetically sticky, and implies a need to punish; without awareness, this impulse to punish can land anywhere, especially on unsuspecting children and spouses! Mindfulness creates space– a little breathing room, a pause to allow the waves of feeling to crash upon the beach of consciousness and then recede, without needing to do anything about it. It gives us the opportunity to choose our behavior, to act instead of react, to behave like adults allegedly are supposed to.

Of course, once a mother, it becomes phenomenally difficult to cultivate a regular meditation practice. Yet no one needs it more. I could scrape by without much meditation before children (oh how simple I didn’t know I had it!), but three kids down the line I daresay my survival depends on it. Some days I would say theirs probably does too 🙂 The trick, then, is to learn to meditate on the fly, to associate awareness and observation of the mind with mundane activities like walking, washing dishes, and doing laundry. Sitting meditation is great and wonderful, but when does a mother get to sit uninterrupted? Defining a successful meditation practice as sitting for X minutes X times a day or week is a prescription for failure for a mom. Mothers have to be more flexible than that– a good practice in itself, with its own fringe benefits.

So today I am writing myself a different prescription: daily meditation, no matter what. An elephant is eaten one bite at a time, so I’ll begin with a simple commitment to be aware and observing for five minutes each day, at some point. As a consistent pattern begins to emerge I’ll extend my time, or add a second five minute interval, depending on what reveals itself to be feasible. I can do this.

After all, I am possessed by monsters.

Posted in Uncategorized

Ah, Issues of Worth, Hello Old Friends

So I know this mom. She’s actually an “irl” friend of mine. Turns out she blogs, and she wrote this really great post recently (no, I’m not going to link to it, because I’m too goddamned embarrassed, which will be put into context shortly). It’s not that it was earth-shattering content. In fact, it was pretty darned fluffy. But it was really a tight piece– well-crafted sentences, humorous use of capitalization, quotations set off by different paragraph style, great and relevant photos, links everywhere. And as it turns out, perhaps by virtue of that quotation, it got noticed and commented upon by the very person quoted! Now I am ridiculously envious. Pathetic. This post wasn’t about any deep revelations about the meaning of life or some shamanic insight into a client’s liver problems (just dandelion, milk thistle is too strong for you). But it was professional.

When do I get to sound like a professional? WHEN?? That is what I’m truly jealous of here: that special combination of know-how, time, and follow-through that produces a professional appearance. Sure, I know more photos and links and a slightly less self-absorbed tone would make a better blog, but I just don’t seem to have the time to really flesh out any of my ideas. I forget most of them, even my most inspired ones, before I get anywhere near a page. What’s worse, this mom I know has three kids like me, almost the same ages, and she homeschools. I do NOT have any more excuses. Apparently I am simply too lazy.

Posted in shamanism

Blog Tag!

So my online friend Mandi Sanders tagged me today in a blogging survey. I love it when serendipity makes me look like I planned something. HA!

Here are the rules:
1. Make a post & link back to the person who awarded you 
2. Share 7 things about yourself 
3. Award 15 great bloggers so we can share the love 
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them they’ve been tagged
I’ll have to think about whether I can find fifteen people to tag, but that aside, here are my seven things:
1. When asked a question, even a seemingly unimportant or insignificant one, I find it incredibly difficult to answer lightly, as if the world might come to a disastrous end if I fail to convey my truest, most accurate answer. You could say I’m obsessed with being honest 🙂
2. I have monumental, planet-shaking epiphanies almost daily. Days that lack at least one good one are so disappointing.
3. I talk to plants. I talk to animals too, but lots of people do that, and I don’t always understand the animals.
4. I am an outrageously vivid dreamer.
5. I was Persian, a wife of a sheik, in a former life.
6. I am driven to create and to communicate.
7. Although I am only raising three kids, I have carried five and feel in my body that I am truly a mother to those five children that passed through me in this incarnation.
OK, fifteen bloggers, really?? Who do I know that blogs?
1. Lisa M.
2. Lisa S.
3. Danielle C.
4. Pat R.
Well, this may require a little more work…
Posted in unschooling

Who Decides?

Thanks to the amazing power of viral video Ted Williams, who happens to have this classic radio voice, went from zero to stardom essentially overnight last week. I thought it was a great story and shared it on Facebook; one of my friends commented that she was becoming a little “jaded… the gifting is… over the top… I’m not sure it’s doing any favors to someone who struggles with addiction.” (Mr. Williams has admitted to having substance abuse struggles in his past.) This got me thinking. Would she, and others out there who feel the same, feel differently if Mr. Williams did not have any history of addiction? Why? Is that appropriate? Who decides?

Who is my friend to imply that we should withhold generosity from someone because of past addiction? How long, then, will an addict have to wait before being allowed to reenter the world of receiving from others freely? Who will set these rules? And if that is allowed, what else will then be subject to regulation? If Christians are in power (and believe me they are), then what would stop them from deciding I have deviated “too much” by failing to attend church, owning blacklisted books, and God literally forbid, practicing meditation and even magic? How long will I have to “behave properly” before I could receive from others without it being questionable as to whether it was doing me any favors? Is that decision not entirely up to the giver?

Of course it is. I don’t know that my friend thought about this quite so much as I did. But even the implication that some authority to judge the worth of another might exist has grave consequences indeed. This way of thinking is nothing short of a path to the dark side. It is a simple step from here to racism, to segregation, to punishments of all kinds. Who gets to be the judge? What shall the criteria be, how will these evaluations be decided? Will exceptions be allowed under extenuating circumstances? Who will be given that authority?

Ugh, sounds like school. Shudder.

And what purpose does becoming jaded serve? Is my friend benefitting from closing herself off from feeling positive about this story? She certainly has no impact on Ted Williams by feeling doubt and suspicion. Is her life enriched in some way by her doubt and suspicion? Now that, I doubt. No, I’m pretty sure being jaded is a protection mechanism based in fear. After all, what could anyone have to lose from being hopeful about a rags to riches story? Sure, one might have to relinquish jealousy and racism, classism and arrogance… ah, yes, we insulate ourselves with those lovelies. Those ugly feelings are difficult to let go. So, jaded it is! Better to hold on to the worst of human behavior rather than risk keeping our hearts open and hoping for the best…

No thanks. I’ll keep my heart open, and I’ll retain my rights to making decisions based on the guidance of spirit and not abdicate to any fear-based external authority. TYVM!

Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome…

And so it begins… new year, new blog. My 15-month-old baby, asleep in my lap has cut off the circulation in the fingers of my right hand. Good thing I’m left-handed– ha! Take that, righties!

Seriously, though, what the hell am I talking about, anyway? Yes, I am left-handed, and it is a right-hand world, whether you’ve noticed or not. But I am a statistical outlier in many other ways. Societies preserve themselves by marginalizing and isolating outliers, cleaving to the middle of the bell curve. However, to be an outlier is not to be automatically flawed or afflicted in some way. I find myself frequently sorting out the difference between normal outlier and pathological behavior, for myself and for others. Most of what I’ll write about here will center around the way I do things, which tends to be differently than at least ninety percent of everyone around me. I’m neither proud nor ashamed; I simply am. And I’ve found along the way that when I’m honest about who I am, it helps others come closer to doing the same. So that’s what I’m after here: empowerment through sharing ideas and stories. May we all be liberated and free from suffering. Happy 2011!

p.s. I’m also participating in the WordPress post-a-week 2011 challenge. Week 1, check!