Thursday, May 27, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I flew to Boston last Thursday and as I sat waiting for takeoff, I felt the adrenaline spike and sweaty palms that usually accompany my departure. Familiar refrains formed in my mind, “God, please help me be safe, please be with the children (the children aren’t ready to be without me).” I prepared to send the words into the ether, out and up in the childhood direction of heaven, as to a satellite dish that would magically beam them back onto the plane as it attained 37,000 feet.
Mid-satellite transmission, I stopped. I’ve been reading about several mystical and Eastern religions which have no room for this “God – as – dial-up” imagery. In these religions God, or the Tao, or the Spirit, or the Atman, is a creative current of life that runs through each individual, which we can only attain by going inward. So I halted my prayer, took a few deep breaths and tried to go deep (difficult in a crowded three- seat row with large neighbors). I remembered that I had said “I love you” to each of my children and to my husband, had left notes for all and baked banana bread as my last act before departure. I had really done all I could to leave a loving presence behind. I felt a peace that I was OK in this moment, and that if a crisis occurred I would hopefully rise to the occasion, as would many others on the plane who had the spirit within them. It was a lovely thought, and it got me through take-off, at least.
During my trip I was surrounded by love. I renewed wonderful relationships with old friends, immediate family, and new family – one of whom my dearest new nephew, only seven weeks old. That sweet baby had me immediately wrapped around every finger and a few toes. We sat in awe, six or seven adults at a time, watching baby sleep, or yawn, or – most joyous of all – practice a few tentative smiles. A baby seems a manifestation of inner prayer; after all, he is born new and agenda-free from his mother’s body, fresh from creation and lacking both ego and desire for control. So baby nephew was my prayer for the weekend; just holding him and watching my brother hold him filled my cup to the brimful.
I’m home again now, distracted by the needs of children who missed their mother and by routine demands of the household. Early morning wake-ups and homework, piano practice and playdates already threaten my inner balance. As I swing from one responsibility to the other I am tempted to turn upward in my prayer and requests for help, seeking my strength from someplace out and up – as a tire swing whirls from a fixed point on a solid branch. The memory of my airplane epiphany pulls me back to my reality, though, and reminds me that my fixed place is inside, a place where the dear faces and loving feelings from last weekend and all good weekends reside.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
“Busy-ness does not make us happy. Muller reminds us that the Chinese symbol for busy is composed of two characters: heart and killing.“
-From ‘The Trouble With Motherhood,’ by Christine Carter, PhD. April 26, 2010, http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/post/the_trouble_with_motherhood.
That just about sums up my mother’s day message: busy-ness kills our hearts. I read Christine Carter’s blog entry over the weekend and it shocked my eyes wide open. Of course I already knew that preoccupation with daily chores, errands and classes sucks the life out of a person – don’t we all know that? But I did not know that someone made a study out of it, and proved that people can only live without fun for two days before they start to fall apart with anxiety disorder, headaches, sleeplessness, etc (see her article above for details about this experiment, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, as described in his book Flow.)
It is both hilarious and horrifying to me that many moms are willing to live their lives as a sort of experiment in productivity without diversion. Purposefulness without playfulness apparently robs us of our mental and physical health, which of course takes away from our effectiveness in all areas of our life. The best part of Carter’s article tells us that life does not have to be this way; if we take time to insert non-productive fun in our schedule, our happiness level will increase (and probably our productivity, too, but at this point who cares?).
I often feel that fun activities are those I enjoy by myself. For example, I just finished a 12-mile bike ride on this sunny, windy day – startled periodically by delirious woodpeckers and sunbathing prairie dogs. (Two of the prairie dogs were sprawled out on the trail – I thought they were dead until they jumped up and scurried for cover. They looked just like my friends and I when we baked as teenagers – even down to the body types!) Now that was fun . . . as my four-year- old would say, “Wahoo Daddo!”
But I also had a fantabulous time over the weekend on a mother-daughter campout at the zoo. Eleven girls and their moms got to spend an evening (including dinner and zoo walk), conspiratorial night of little sleep, and morning together. The girls’ electric chatter and wide-eyed wonder spread contagiously even to us yawny moms. You would think the lights of Colorado Springs, spread out below us, were fireworks on the Seine. A monkey zonked out overhead in a swing, a snoring gorilla, and a raucous peacock squawking from high in a tree; all these were sources of giggles and rapid-fire questions. We even fed giraffes: great, tall beautiful animals that clustered around us looking for crackers, their long black tongues snaking around all the bars of their enclosure, and the girls’ hair when they dared place crackers on their heads.
So much fun to be had . . .I am, in fact, going to put “have fun” on my list of 5-year goals. At the moment this list has items like: “be patient,” “be calm,” “be peaceful,” which all frankly sound good but boring. I think fun should be – if not first – at least prominently listed. To quote my little guy again, without fun, “you be in the trouble, mommo.” Have fun on Mother’s Day, everyone!