Monday, May 17, 2010

Swapping Roles

Sometimes I'm not sure who is the wisest in this Mother/Son game... hoot hoot...
“The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults.” - Peter de Vries
I was having an online chat with my friend Juliette today, she always inspires me – she home-schools her son, runs an inspirational book store and is soon to go to America to do a workshop based upon ‘Nurturing Spirituality in Children’, with author of said book, Peggy Joy Jenkins.
She is so excited about this her words danced off the screen and did a square dance in my lounge room!
I confessed to Juliette that I was struggling to nurture the spirituality in Monte, though I desperately wish I could.
By that I mean  I want to nurture what is natural and authentic about him before modern and pop culture influence him to such a degree that he starts to lose sight of the very soul that he is, now.
The last couple of days have been challenging to say the least.
I’m not sure whether it’s because Monte has entered a new phase of independence or if I am just losing the plot or a combination of the two but suffice it to say mayhem has a new address.
Every new phase Monte enters, I enter one as well.
Traditionally, you think of raising the child as the parent teaching all they know to this innocent little being, and it is the parent that is all wise and knowing- but it is the opposite, my God it is the opposite.
I am the student and Monte is the teacher, massively.
In the last couple of days Monte has really been focusing on areas I need to develop: Patience and presence of mind.
To teach me these tough lessons he has come up with some really creative techniques.
1) Running around house with enormous knife from the dishwasher
2) Climbing onto Dining Table and standing up on it laughing
3) Eating a crayon
4) Using a pencil to eat an apple
5) Smudging yogurt on the couch
6) Screaming like he is auditioning for the Exorcist when I take something away from him or put him in the car, or … want him to go back to sleep at 5am.
So far, I have failed both my exams and my assignments in patience. In fact, I got a big fat D and a little note saying “You really need to cultivate presence of mind and patience, while Monte teaches you about these things, you are simultaneously teaching him through your reactions. See if you can rework them”
Since getting my D yesterday, of course, I have done what all failing Mothers do – berate themselves with the “I’m no good as a Mother,” “Why did I react how I did?” “I’m a horrible person” and yes, there have been some tears shed and some arms flung into the air with “I don’t know how to do this!”
But, thanks to Juliette and that fabulous quote she sent my way just when I needed it – I have looked for the lessons from Monte.
I am onto him, I am going to do a right back at ya lesson and show him that I can be patient, I can be present (and I can put the knives somewhere out of his reach).
I am going to be grateful that he has shone a light on areas that need improving and I am going to rise to the challenge by consciously improving them.
Sure, I could keep my arms flung in the air and keep the mantra ” I am no good at this” or I can embrace the challenge and cultivate what needs cultivating.
If I can pull this together and turn my impatience into patience and my non-presence into presence – I will be able to look Monte in the eye and confidently say “So, who is the teacher now?”

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365 Lessons-Lesson 137: Be Kind

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. -Dalai Lama

Why is so hard to be kind? Why do we choose hate over love?

I have opened myself up here. I've let myself out of the box and it was not easy. For the most part, I have found kindness. But I have also sensed other emotions. The tug and pull of others upon us is really only the tug and pull of ourselves. It's very hard to love someone whose mission seems to be to point a finger and destroy all that is in you that is good. But I find that compassion for myself and others is what is really needed. I think of how many times this has occurred in history.

Saints, sages, political figures, common folk who dared to be different, but were shunned for being who they are. Some crucified, hanged, cursed and hated for only wanting good. I don't know what is wrong with wanting and feeling joy, peace, love, and happiness and wanting to share these with others. What is in human nature that makes us want to hate these beautiful things in others? Why can't joy be shared? Why are we afraid to honor and appreciate the successes of others knowing that we are not really separate from one another, we are one in the same. What makes people turn green with envy and want to shut others out of their lives completely. What makes a person say, "I will never forgive you, forever." Forever rolling in their own misery.

It takes a very compassionate person to love the one who wants to kill them. How do you muster up this compassion? How do you replace hate with love? How do you love the one who silently hates? Or an even harder question, how do you love the one who verbally and physically hates?

So I keep practicing. Just keep going inside. Just keep loving. I give all the love in the world to myself. I give all the kindness in the world to myself. If I can't love myself with every ounce of my being and give kindness and gentleness to myself with every ounce of my being, how can I love the world? How can I find room in my heart to love the one who is hurting so much that all they can do is inflict that hurt on others, however subtly?

Fortunately, I've also found love, peace and kindness to be contagious. There are more people who would rather share these feelings. You never know how your presence will affect another, but if what you feel, say and do feels right to you and you feel good, chances are others will too. I received a postcard in my college mailbox that had the Chinese character for kindness on it. I was surprised. The person who gave it to me hardly knew me, but I had invited my colleagues to partake in a party at my house and she felt thankful. The Chinese character for kindness shows the symbol for person combined with the number two symbolizing benevolence, the essential kindness one person shows another. This is what was written on the card:

So I'm going to keep walking with this love in me. I'm going to keep shining this light. I'm going to keep being kind.

Also on my blog Lessons from the Monk I Married