Thursday, April 28, 2011

A reflection on five years

Five years seems like a little bit of time to be a mother. Only five. Just five. And yet there is so much wisdom about people, humanity, growing up, raising kids, and life hidden between my ears now after just five years. Enough wisdom to guide me through most obstacles with ease.

It's impossible to give that wisdom -- just pass it like a bowl of mashed potatoes at the dinner table -- to another new mom. We can tell her that sleep deprivation sucks, which is does, but she won't understand what we mean until she is in month five and the baby wakes her up three times in one night again and she had really just started into a rhythm and now her whole day is off and that will set her whole week off. It's really hard to describe that feeling unless you've been there.

We can tell her that it gets harder when they aren't an infant but she won't believe us and why should she because all that crying -- all that crying! -- is such a difficult thing to get over. And yet they will say they hate you, and they will have a hard time with a friend at school that will break your heart, and they will be left out or left behind and your every muscle will tighten with the pain of it all.

But, lo and behold, our girls now sleep through the night. Just not every night. Because there are trips to the bathroom, bad dreams, lost bears, mixed up sheets, and the ever-so-scary illnesses.

And, they are over little squabbles in a matter of seconds not minutes unlike me, who has only realized recently that I have a really interesting relationship with ATTACHMENT. I'm practicing detachment, actually, and will write more about that later.

It's easy now, though. It's easy to tell my girls now that it's OK and move on. It's easy to comfort them now. They just need the comfort of a little help (gosh, don't we all?).

My big lesson right now at five years is not about motherhood at all. It's about peoplehood and how amazingly beautiful they are with all their flaws and ridiculousness. It's about lessons every day about how to manage being around certain ones (yes, even my children) and about taming the gremlins that some of them carry around with them like little monkeys each day.

I don't meditate every day but I do every week. I don't practice Zen every hour but I do practice it every day.

It's enough for me right now. It's all enough.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Practice of Now

In the midst of the darkness of being so alone caring for our twin infants, light came by way of a book: "Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood."

With no family around, my husband working long, long hours out of town and no mom friends, I was lost. It was a dark place. (I have videos to prove it wasn't as dark as I remember it, though.) In fact, I can look back and see now how justified my feelings were with so little support.

In fact, I wrote a lot about it in the blogosphere.

But, Karen Maezen Miller's book, which was given to me by one of my freelance editors, brought light to my soul with her simple ways of turning being a mother into a Zen practice. That practice continues today as I just let go to Trust. She is my friend, old Trust. She tells me to sit back with a bucket of popcorn and wait for the answers.

What makes Karen so good for mothers is that she often confesses to this being a difficult practice to do -- and she's a Zen Priest!

I often think, Okay, if Karen sometimes gets angry and she's a priest, than I can't be that terrible of a person. Walk away, decompress ... return later, calmed.

I've always been honest. Maybe too honest. The jury's still out on that one. I'm starting to claim my honesty as a source of beauty. Sometimes, my honesty is the only thing refreshing in the room, frankly.

And, part of that honesty has been saying that being a mother is the most difficult job of my life. It's hard work being a parent and if we're not trying to help mothers and fathers in the village, we'll continue to have troubles.

A lot of the reason parenting is difficult is because I make it so. I worry a lot. I am a control freak. I like things the way I like them. So ... in other words ... I have issues.

But, most of the time -- not all of the time -- I take Karen's wisdom mixed with my own version of Buddhism and Zen and Spirituality and Faith and I try not to screw things up by letting things like a big pile of the most fine, powdery silver glitter sprinkled all over the dining room floor bother me. I just really enjoy the Now a lot better when the rooms are clutter-free and the floors are clear of debris and that the air going into my lungs isn't filled with silvery glitter. That's just me, though.

I met Maezen online four years ago when I did a random search of her book and found that she had started a little blog! I was literally jumping up and down when I found that. I've watched that little blog turn into a household name for many of my smart, fantastic blog (and now Twitter) friends even as I've taken a big backseat role in the blogosphere. I still love it so!

And for four years, I've wanted to meet Maezen and give her the big hug that she deserves for helping this one mom -- and many, many more, I'm sure -- find comfort in the everyday of motherhood. I also want to thank her for these valuable lessons that are getting me through difficult times in my career as well. In fact, I'm a better person over all because of this Zen message she spreads.

I'm happy to report that this Saturday, I will finally get to meet her in Washington, D.C. and give her the thanks she deserves for being the other honest woman in the room. I'll have all copies of my books and I'll be ready to listen to her lesson in person. Because I need it now just as ever.

And I have a feeling I always will ...