I've been unearthing things that have been packed in boxes for the last two years (the year we spent traveling, and then the year we spent in a rental.) One of the things that turned up recently is one of my very favorite books, Momma Zen, by Karen Maezen Miller. In a moment of peace I opened it up the other night to a dog-eared page, and read the passage that so resonated with me 9 years ago when I was a new mom trying to "figure it all out."
"The day breaks and I create an agenda. It may not appear to be self-serving, but nearly all of it is. Between the items that certainly NEED to be done are so many that I simply WANT to do because I think doing them will make me feel better, more worthy or productive. Accomplishing them gives me a sense of control against the chaos. These are false feelings, and fleeting. If I were more highly evolved I would know that everything is perfect as it is whether or not I empty the dishwasher. There is nothing wrong with wanting to empty the dishwasher. But how far will I carry this flag into the fury of the fight?
Some days, very far."
I was grateful to have read this passage several nights ago, as it is something that continually comes up for me as I try to juggle babies, homeschool, and working from home. It ALL demands my attention, and my daily agenda never seems to work out as I had planned. Instead of allowing myself to flow into the chaos with ease, I have been carrying my flag valiantly down the foxhole of crazy making, trying to control everything and make it fit into my time frame.
The other day I was trying to write, and my son kept coming into my office unannounced and interrupting me to ask about a play date. I finally told him to stay out until I was done unless he was bleeding or there was an emergency. (The sitter was here so he wasn't on his own.) Later that day, we were going over his schoolwork and there was a big section that was crossed out. I asked him why it was crossed out and he said because he didn't understand it. I asked if he had been in school what he would have done if he didn't understand, and he said he would ask the teacher - "But she wouldn't yell at me for interrupting her."
Point taken. Lessen learned.
Continuing the chapter from Momma Zen -
"When my daughter was nearly two, for a brief and troubling time she was a head banger. Our battles would reach a pitch, sometimes instantly, and she would throw her forehead to the floor. I did the same thing at that age. SHE IS MY DAUGHTER. My mother told me about the first time it happened. "I was washing the dishes and you wanted to be picked up. What could I do? I needed to finish the dishes." AND I AM HERS..............
............But just for the record, there are many things you can do besides finish the dishes. Here are two: first, take a breath; second, tell yourself, I CAN CHANGE.
You can change in an instant. You can change your mind. You can change your timing. You can change your approach. You can change your words. You can laugh instead of scream. You can hop on one foot. You can step away from the fray instead of stepping in. You can give up, give in, and go in a completely different direction than you'd like to. You can do dishes later. WHAT THEN? WHAT NEXT?"
Nine years ago I swore I would start putting down the dishes, and it's hard not to judge myself that I am still fighting the same battle. Some days I carry my flag very far.
My sitter had to stay home yesterday because her daughter was sick. When she called to tell me what was going on and asked if I still wanted her to come, I thought about my agenda for the day. Then I threw it out the window. I turned it into a day with my kids, without a "to-do" list to accomplish. It was a day of flowing with the unexpected, instead of against it. It was a day of giving in to the chaos, instead of just throwing my hands up in exasperation. It was a day of change. And I am grateful. What next?