Mama Sutras: Sutra 1.2 Part 1
Solace in Pillow Castles
Sit in reverie and watch the changing color of the waves
that break upon the idle seashore of the mind.
This morning I lay in bed attempting to read my twitter feed on my tiny cell phone screen while breastfeeding B, the grabby seven month old. Two year old, G, was building a castle of pillows on top of my legs. Once it was built and he was happily engaged in popping up to make the baby giggle, four year old, N, decided he wanted in on the pillow castle action. G was having none of it and said he wanted it to be his castle only. When N again politely asked to come in, G yelled the same answer loudly and N then stole a pillow. A tussle ensued, including both boys and me yelling to stop. It ended when G bit N.
It occurred to me as N was loudly crying after being bitten on the back, that my efforts to soothe him were less to help him feel better and more simply efforts to quiet him. I wanted N to calm down because his volume and emotional energy were feeling uncomfortable to me.
I paused. I breathed in and out until I felt a little stillness within myself, explaining to them that I was taking my deep breaths. In my mind, I chanted, “Yoga chitta vritti nirodaha.” Yoga is the stillness of the fluctuations of the mind. This was readily accessible to me because this is the Sutra I’m currently meditating upon daily.
Once I was calmer, I was able to remember that this emotional turbulence was not about me. Both boys were hurt by the bite. Both boys were disconnected from each other and from me. I was disconnected from them and from myself. I checked in with my breath to find that I felt anger, annoyance, disconcerted, uncertain and therefore doubtful of myself as a parent. I also realized that I was annoyed even before the disagreement because allowing G to build the pillow castle in the first place was pushing against my boundaries. I wanted to quietly breastfeed and read twitter for a short while without anyone climbing all over me. Once I recognized and named these feelings, I could see them for the fluctuations that they were. I could see that we each were caught up in our own versions of these and needed to find the stillness of mind that comes from connection.
My words then came from this centered place. G and N were able to name their feelings and name what they needed. N asked for some quiet time to lie down while watching his brother play. G wanted to give kisses and hugs. He named that he was sad that N was not ready to receive them. Simply being able to name their feelings and needs created connection between them. There was blame and anger before we began naming, but not after. I suggested that since G had built the pillow castle, if he wanted to allow someone inside, then he got to chose how to let them in. Often, I will suggest that they figure out how to resolve this kind of disagreement so that I don’t insert my own feelings into their relationship. I could see that this time, they needed a gentle push to get moving together. The solution they came up with was to create a gate with a password for G to allow N in when he wanted. When they thought I wasn’t watching, G and N hugged and kissed. Then they began defending the pillow castle together against the forces of evil aka the dog.
Aside: I didn’t name this at the time, but as I write this, I realize that I need to either move B and me onto a chair to breastfeed while pillow castles are built or ask that G wait until we are done. This will help me honor all of our simultaneous needs. I can lower my tension level and parent more gently.
It was finding this center of stillness that allowed me to connect with myself and my sons. I think I may be better with the second part of that connection than the first. Parenting off the mat.
Yoga = process of yoking or integration; union
chitta = of the consciousness of the mind
vritti = fluctuations, modifications, changes of the mind
nirodaha = control, regulation, channeling, mastery, integration, coordination, understanding, stilling, quieting, setting aside of
Was there a time when your kids were doing something that pushed your buttons? Did you realize it before you were angry or after? Did you handle it the way that you wanted?