Over the weekend, a friend asked me what my children’s ethnic heritage is. (Answer: complicated.) When I mentioned this conversation to my six year old son, he soberly answered, “Human.” We nodded at his sagacity, but he very quickly followed up with, “No! I mean the culprit. I’m the culprit.”
Interesting, not just for vocabulary reasons, but also because of its inherent veracity nine times out of ten.
(“What does ‘culprit’ mean, mummy?”)
Do you ever have those moments that make you wonder whether you’re up to the task? I’ve had a few of those this week. When people ask me what we do all day, I usually talk about the work we do, the children’s projects, the home ed groups we frequent, the friends we see, the classes we attend. Here’s what they don’t know about (although something tells me my neighbours are well aware):
The thumping up the stairs, and of course,
The door slamming.
And that’s not just the children. Mothers have meltdowns too.
Goodness, it’s wearing.
“Be positive! Be grateful! Be thankful for what you have!” This is what the world tells me when I’m having a challenging time. Yes, I say. Yes, I am all that. But that doesn’t stop the hardness from being hard. Wallowing in negativity doesn’t help, but neither does pretending that everything is tickity-boo.
The difficult moments sometimes come in clusters, but more often than not, they are just outtakes of our day. As I seek to regain consciousness, I mean perspective, I consider all of the other moments in the day that were actually ok, even joyful. If I can’t find any, I remind myself that tomorrow is another day, another chance to start over and resume paddling in the same direction.
In meditation, it is possible to imagine the mind as a cloudless sky, a blank canvas, a screen. As thoughts and images arrive, they float past like clouds. Sometimes they are white, fluffy cirrus clouds; other times the mind is so full of thoughts, it is like a leaden sky.
The challenging moments of my day are like thick grey cloud-cover. They make it difficult to recall that, behind the clouds, bright blue sky exists. If you’ve ever flown on a rainy day, only for the plane to emerge above the clouds into stunning sunlight, you will know how deceptive that cloud-cover can be.
Those clouds say:
You are a bad mother.
You’re not up to this.
No one else has these struggles.
You are all alone.
It’s easy to think that the clouds are right. When we are feeling tired and vulnerable, it sometimes feels as though those clouds are so close, the moisture beads on our hair and lashes. We are immersed in delusion.
Remember that the sky, above those clouds, exists.
You are not a bad mother. You are a good mother having a bad day.
You are not alone because we all experience that dazzling light and know the dullness of clouds. The clouds are not your Truth.
And, importantly, remember that you are human, and therefore imperfect, fragile, beautiful, emotional and unique.
(And if you’re looking for the culprit, I’ve got him right here.)
© 2015 Lisa Hassan Scott