Monday, July 31, 2006

and another thing...

so after my last post, i had several conversations...with kevin, with other friends, and sussed out where i'm at a bit more. It was extremely helpful, and i'm feeling less manic about it all. Whether i developed this myself or it's a way of being i was born with, for the most part my major emotional hiccups last anywhere between 1 to a few days and then more or less peter out after significant ranting, venting, and often writing. in other words, i'm not longer stewing.

several key things emerged from my conversations...

first, there seems to be an invisible boundary around lots of moms where you only talk about your discomfort to a certain degree. Particularly if you are an attachment-style parent (often a stay-at-home mom, extended breastfeeding, homeschooling, organic eating, gentle discipline type). It's like you need to guard your complaints and frustrations lest you give the impression that you don't adore your kids, or someone might suggest that you do something drastic like... get a job! leave your children for longer than a few hours (oh, the horror!)! This can cause some major inner upheavals in overachieving moms. I'm not belittling the attachment parent way because...that's what I do, and i do believe in it. But I do object to the unspoken code that prohibits *some* moms from being honest and forthright about the fact that occasionally (and sometimes often), parenting sucks the big one.

So i've made a point to talk to some moms about this candidly and as i suspected, i am not alone in my bouts of extreme child-aversion and childless envy. Just simply admitting it and talking about it (hmmmm... this is sounding a little 12 steppish...)was really liberating. No more hemming and hawing about this developmental stage being tough and oh man, didn't get enough sleep again... chuckle, chuckle. Nope, just straight up: hey, i kinda miss my life before kids- you?

and on a more philosophical level...
when kevin and i were talking i puzzled out a bit more what else has been bothering me. summer in maine is short, and i've been feeling like i'm not enjoying it. i keep thinking, well, next summer will be easier. but will it? i mean, is life with a 1 year old and a 4 year old going to be all that less hectic? doubtful. its' so easy to fall into the trap of constantly assuring oneself that at some point in the future, the situation will be different, better. The only reason this is true is because it's not my present reality. Nine times out of ten, said future is indeed, just as challenging as the present, its' just a different challenge.

I dont' want to spend my kids' younger years wishing, waiting for them to be older. the world is way too unstable. who the hell knows what life is going to be like in a few months, let alone a few years. my father-in-law's accident- life changing in an instant- is certainly to that.

so my musing is- how can i not only tolerate but enjoy and appreciate where i'm at, right now, in all of its challenges and ups and downs, and not be wishing it away, or wishing it to be different?

kevin says listening to the news helps him- we aren't living in the middle of a war zone.

sigh. ok,now i feel like shit. yes. we are insanely lucky. having some gratitude always snaps me.

but beyond that (not that that isn't important) but i need something more sustaining...a practice to keep me not only grateful, but truly enjoying this stage of my life with young, needy, ever-have-to-attend-to children.

So i'm going to practice some equanimity. This is a concept i teach in my childbirth ed classes... the practice of Equanimity. The idea is that you give equal weight to everything- your labor contraction being of no greater notice than what you see before you, the sensations touching you, the music in your ear, the smell of the ocean outside the window. The idea is that we get so fixated on whatever is overwhelming us at the moment that we tune out and miss the majority of life surrounding us, both difficult and beautiful.

make sense?

i'm not sure how this is going to play out for me. I imagine it will look something like paying attention to the beauty around me (the lake outside our window, the never ending green of the hills) while acknowledging that yup, i'm feeling irritated and pissed off at my toddler...appreciating Liam's coos and giggles when i'm hot and sticky and over tired... you get the idea.

i guess it comes down to making a choice- what do i want to let in? i suspect that most of us go through our lives letting in most of the negative, be it our problems, our critical self talk, our frustrations with the world, and selectively give a nod to the positive things that we simply can't ignore. I'm just going to try and even the playing field. It's only fair.


Blogger Megan said...

Makes total sense to me, mama!

It reminds me of a chapter from one of my favorite books reflecting on motherhood - Mother Shock: Loving (Every) Other Minute of It. She writes an essay about the practice of Zen in parenting a toddler and quotes a line from Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner Mind "The true purpose of Zen is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes." Pretty much everything you just wrote about.

Thanks for the great perspective on things!

8:54 AM  

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