There comes a time when an individual becomes irresistible and his action becomes all-pervasive in its effects. This comes when he reduces himself to zero.
I’ve been struggling the last few days. I haven’t been speaking to others with gentleness. I have been bouncing from small, but urgent, necessaries of life with children like a pinball in a machine. I keep reaching for a moment of serenity so that I can act with compassion-like the ball hits the bumpers. But, I inevitably end up back in the bouncing chaos.
Among these small, but urgent, necessaries, was tech difficulties. So, while I did write, I haven’t been able to post. But, I’m counting this as a successful Nablopomo so far and will keep going (hopefully, I’ll be able to work ahead a few days.) I’ll schedule out the next few Nablopomo posts so they aren’t right atop each other.
Parenting isn’t what I expected it to be. I expected to fall in love, but I learned that I didn’t have an understanding of unconditional love until I became a parent. It changed not only how I viewed children, but also my partner, myself, people I already loved, and the rest of the world.
Becoming a parent altered the depth of my compassion, patience, willingness to really listen, change, admit errors, and understand that I will never be finished learning until I die.
But, most of all, becoming a parent has taught me that I will never be enough. No matter how hard I try, how much I give or wish to be enough, something will always trip me up, as if to say, “you thought you had this for a moment, but life is a sieve that you have to keep pouring yourself into it until there’s nothing left and then you have to keep pouring.”
Parenting well is mostly about exposing my own shortcomings and then working through them with self-compassion.
Living life with compassion is my central goal (another way of interpreting, Ahimsa, or non-violence in thought, word, and action.) I’m constantly peeling back layers or having them peeled back for me. It’s this irresistible pull toward simplicity and gentleness that helps me become better at letting go of my carefully constructed sense of self-that is, ultimately, false.
I never would have expected that this shearing away of my wooly coat would happen because of poop and band-aids and spilled rice and slap-fights and sticky floors and dirty faces and missing shoes and broken crayons and late dinners and puke sheets and cavities and backed up drains and empty wipee bins and lice and car seat straps and bedtime stories and…
Sure, there are the big things we always think of as the tests of parenthood. But, so much of those major issues are resolved because of how I’ve handled the endless stream of mind-numbing mundane care-taking.
If I can act peacefully toward the child that dropped my tea that I made for myself an hour ago, but forgot about because I was busy breaking up a fight before fistacuffs, then fishing a transformer from the toilet, and locating a jujitsu belt and….
If I can see the child who broke my tea mug with gentleness, even as my hands are smeared with poo, my hair has Elmer’s glue that I never washed out from yesterday, and we were all due at one of the kid’s drama classes ten minutes ago, then when the big issues come up, I’ve built a relationship that we can lean into.
We will bend together, without breaking.
But, the problem that comes in with parenting gently for me, is that it is 24 hours on duty. There is never not a time when mini-catastrophes are not happening. There’s no recovery time-no time to stand up for a moment to get my bearings.
I practice mindfulness many days, simply as a self-protective measure. If I didn’t stop my mind from worrying over what hasn’t gotten done or what is going to happen and practice being fully present, my brain would seize up like those clockwork aliens from “Doctor Who.” (Cf: The Girl in the Fireplace.)
I’m firmly convinced that if instantaneous combustion actually occurs, it will be caused by a parent past their limit who just bursts into flame.
But, you know, even if I did become charcoal, the kids would ask me to get the lollipops off the top shelf. And I’d recombine my molecules to get the lollipops down for them (and wonder why I put them so high in the first place when they could get the lollipops without my help if I hadn’t done that.)
I hope that the attachments we are making during the minutia of every day have created a space that charcoal mom wouldn’t phase them because they know I’ve got their back no matter what.
But, as potential charcoal mom, this brings me back to the feeling of never being enough. I could never lay there for a moment, enjoying the peace of simply being a pile of cinders for long.
I can never be peaceful, patient, giving, kind, understanding or there enough. I have to go to zero point energy me and then I have to keep going.
And that’s what I struggle against. It’s this giving up of myself over and over that hurts. And it’s the kind of emptying that has to be done as a decision to give over and over. To clarify that: it’s a repetition to decide to surrender without concrete return.
I’m not trying to sound like a martyr. This isn’t a superhero leap that I’m making. These surrenders are tiny. They’re done by everyone who’s responsible for someone else. The surrenders are in the mundane sphere and they are, ultimately, done from love.
The love same I learned when I became a parent. It’s a depth of love for my children, my partner, myself, people I already loved, and the rest of the world.
Parents don’t have words that address this emptiness. But, it needs to be said.
Post for NaBloPoMo
(Since I’m writing most of these late at night, in bed, while tandem nursing twins, I’m choosing to concentrate on writing rather than proof-reading or editing. Please forgive the extra typos and non-nonsensical grammar. Thank you.)