What?! I’m feeling tolerant. I’m experiencing tolerance… like a saint or a sage or something… This is weird!!!
What a strange reprieve from constantly being attached to outcomes, wanting peace and harmony, striving and working for the “perfect” family life. Actually, throughout the last 2 days I am literally LAUGHING out loud at the idea of even WANTING a balanced harmonious endlessly seamlessly joyful life. What a silly futile desire!
And you do realize that that’s what most of us are doing, right? Trying to set up life so that there is this feeling of “We made it!” “Oh after this and that and that and that happens, THEN we can catch a break, enjoy life, have time, slow down…”
In my parenting life, on a subconscious level, I realize that I was holding out for an experience of endless balance and harmony. That the day would actually come where we had arranged our lives so consciously and so thoughtfully that of course we would be enjoying the benefits of all of that labor.
I was not accounting for just a *few* minor details. Such as: I’m not perfect, my husband’s not perfect, my children have their own mysterious spiritual journey and imperfections, and we LIVE in a difficult world which cannot be fully blocked from affecting our family. And then there’s GOD’s plan for the four of us, and I cannot even begin to know what He knows is best for us to experience.
What I do understand is that God wants us to realize who we are and come closer to Him. And I understand that GROWTH happens ONLY when we come out of our comfort zones. And THEREFORE MY FRIENDS!!!!! If we are going to grow and come closer to God then INEVITABLY we are going to NEED to experience trials and tribulations. Absolutely.
Sure times of happiness come. Let’s embrace them! Yet I know for myself I am doing myself and my family a HUGE service to let the happy times end when they end and to equally embrace the times of challenge and distress.
On the brahma-bhūta stage, or the platform of spiritual realization, there is no lamentation and no material hankering (na śocati na kāṅkṣati). As long as one lives in the material world, actions and reactions will continue, but when one is unaffected by such material actions and reactions, he is to be considered free from the danger of being victimized by material desires.
– A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Maybe this sounds crazy or impossible to really achieve.
How then have I come to be laughing this weekend about this intense struggle I am currently experiencing in my parenting life? Great question!
It all started with acknowledging reality. From there I experienced my pain. My utterly heartbroken pain about the imperfect reality that surrounds me.
When I say that reality is imperfect what I mean is it’s not heavenly. Obviously we are not on a heavenly planet and we are not in the spiritual world. So there are ALL these defects and dangers ALL AROUND us.
Well, one could argue with great logic that these experiences here on planet Earth are perfect in their defects. Perfect for self-realization, to remember who we are, to have an opportunity to grow in our spiritual qualities. So in one sense All is Well!
And deeply living from that place of acceptance and trust is certainly a journey, right?
So my experience over the last few weeks feels huge. I progressed to the point where I was simply letting go of my expectations in family life and surrendering to reality. I cried off and on for one whole week.
The thing that really hurt was looking at my six year old and seeing how he is suffering, how he didn’t have a perfect life (although I would say he’s had a great life, it’s just not utopia for that little guy), and how his formative years are over and there’s no going back to re-do any of it.
In order to really accept him where he’s at, challenging behavior and all, I needed to grieve some lost time and some lost opportunities. I never felt hopeless, just sad.
So I really let myself unravel and feel the feelings. It was such a relief! I felt warm and calm to just get real with myself. Oh thank God He built into us emotional release mechanisms for when we need to off-load the accumulated/suppressed emotions.
From there I went into observation, learning, and contemplation mode. I was able to be more objective with my son and about his state of being. Okay he’s feeling XYZ, it’s intense, and he’s six so he’s not handling maturely.
Okay, *I’M* experiencing a significant amount of anxiety and powerlessness. I just sat with the feelings instead of reacting. It felt like a miracle to observe and experience. Like I had finally arrived at a higher level of consciousness.
I realize I can be patient and compassionate even if I feel significantly disrupted and challenged on a daily and hourly basis.
It is like a wound inside our family is rising to the surface, ready to be expelled from the four of us so that we can go forward with renewed health and strength. That’s my experience.
So basically my husband and I both are experiencing a ton of surrender, offering a ton empathy, a ton of play, and getting as close to each other and our children as we possibly can. It’s been BEAUTIFUL! And HARD!
And guess what people. My precious son isn’t done needing support. He’s still agitated and suffering just as intensely. Actually, his behaviors are even more intense than a few weeks ago. He is begging for support, just like children do!
Anyway, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is just the silliest thing to want or even WISH that family life could be a steadily graceful experience. Logically it makes sense that life has its ups and downs, but I never let that realization permeate down into my heart.
Today I feel like I really get it! It’s amazing to experience. I’m experiencing that I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that OF COURSE times of distress are coming and will continue to come for the rest of my life. It’s never going to be perfect! How liberating to just get that.
I feel empowered to tolerate life circumstances. Isn’t that a rare ability?!Tolerance! I’ve always thought that the quality of tolerance was for sages, saints, gurus, and masters. Okay, now obviously I’m NOWHERE NEAR steady in my own quality of tolerance. Ha ha! For sure. Lots and lots of room for growth in this here soul of mine.
Still though I celebrate my small victory! I feel strangely accepting of the disturbances that are coming. And I don’t feel so attached that happy times should come or even stay for long. I guess I feel detached. Weird.
Regarding my son, I am committed to loving him and raising him even if he continues to disrupt family life for all the years to come. Probably this is just a phase. But who knows what will come!
Only God I suppose. Let me defer to Him now and then and experience some trust in all that is, including my imperfect self and this imperfect world.
In summary: Experience your experience. Experience your resistance to reality. Experience the pain of accepting reality. Experience a spirit of discovery. Observe. Open your mind and heart. Feel the pain! And THEN! Experience the breakthrough and enjoy it. Then, laugh about the whole thing! That’s my advice to you moms and dads!