Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another hard look at me: surrender

I was reading Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children: Becoming a Mindful Parent (I am savoring the book and intentionally reading it slowly so the message can sink in. I have already sung the praises of Sarah Napthali's first book, Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children. I will give a full report once I am done with the book, no worries!) and it was talking about housework. How we tend to hate it etc. I realized that I don't hate housework at all. In fact, I look forward to it as an escape. It is always a chance to take a break from Pablo and his needs. Pablo is who I have all those yucky don't wanna do it feelings about. Not all the time, but sometimes. I am actually happy to clean the kitchen because I can tell him to go play by himself without feeling (as) guilty about it. I am doing something useful, you see. So I don't have to feel bad about blowing off my kid who wants my attention.

I feel awful saying that, but sometimes he exhausts me. His need for attention isn't constant. In fact, he can spend a couple of hours doing his own thing quite happily. Sometimes. Other times I feel like he is leaching my very life force from my body with the need for constant attention. I feel like I always resist his need for attention. I know that's not true, that most of the time we play and I am totally involved and having fun and present. But other times, I know that all I can think about is how I ALWAYS have to pay attention and I NEVER get time to myself for ONE COHERENT THOUGHT and so on and so on.

I know that this dread comes from not living in the present moment. I instead focus on past needy times and project them into the future. I also know I need more (constructive) time for me, but that is CLEARLY not coming for a few years so I just need to get over it and treasure the stolen moments I have. OR I NEED TO CHANGE MY THINKING ABOUT NEEDING STOLEN MOMENTS. Argh. When I resist him I feel like such an awful mom, but I also feel an equally strong resistance to giving in, as if I will drown in his needs. As if it is him vs me. As if giving to him will cause a part of me to die.

I try to give myself some compassion. I know I am overstretched and VERY tired from weeks of feeling terrible, but I have a hard time loving myself through this feeling. I mean, this is what I gave everything for, right? The opportunity to stay home and be with my kids and get to help them evolve and see every freakin moment of it. That's what I want, right? Right? Then how come I can get more excited over hanging the laundry on the line than playing hide and go seek AGAIN? How can I bring the same mental space that I feel when doing housework to my time playing with Pablo? How can I groove on his unstructured play when I want so much to feel a sense of accomplishment? This marathon of childhood just doesn't have the mile markers that a real marathon would. The very freedom of it is hard for me to tolerate.

Remember being a kid and learning to float in the pool? How hard it was to lay back and trust that the adult and the water would actually hold you up? How you WANTED to trust but you NEEDED to sit up, turn around, and check ONE MORE TIME that their hand was there for you? And you promise yourself that this time you will lay back and TRUST? And then you find yourself laying back only to sit up ONE MORE TIME?

I know I just need to surrender to it all. My feelings, Pablo's needs, my needs, all of it. And just float through my days letting all unfold organically. Whatever. It's funny that surrender can be so hard. Shouldn't letting go be easy? Hanging on is what SHOULD be hard. Isn't it?


  1. Let me know when you figure it out because, dang, I need some answers.

  2. Sooooooooooo many mothers feel the same way you do about spending long amounts of time with a young child. I know I definitely did. There is the occasional earth mother who will tell you she loves every second and doesn't even need a break but she is definitely the exception! It is INCREDIBLY difficult to be at the beck and call of one of these small persons after years attending to your own needs for stimulation as an adult. It is not a switch that comes naturally. It sounds like you're doing a well-above-average job of giving your kids attention :)