"Reality is always kinder than the story we tell about it."
- Byron Katie
Well, I made it through two weeks by myself with the wee ones. I sadly neglected the blog during that time, but I had to let a lot of things go, in order to really be in accordance with things as they are, rather than in constant conflict with reality. Which meant that while my little ones got lots of adventures, and kisses and hugs, and stories and games and yummy food, they also got lots of ice cream, some late bedtimes, some videos and a very, very messy home base. At two different points during my husband's absence, my entire living room was covered with clean laundry that the boys had taken from the laundry bag and strewn everywhere. Laundry covered every inch of floor and every piece of furniture. A few times I forgot to feed the cats. I think a colony of ants may have taken up residence under the living room sofa. In the meantime, we were at the playground or the firetruck museum or at a friend's house, playing in their pool.
I had to surrender to a certain level of chaos in order to keep us all rested enough to be joyful in our days together. I had to let go of my agenda again and again. It was often funny and a little bit painful to notice how much I wanted to hold onto it, creating so much unnecessary stress and aggression. Why exactly was I trying to rush my two toddlers out the door just now? Where did we need to be so urgently? Oh, at the firetruck museum? Where we were meeting, um, nobody? Which is open for the whole day? Why now was I getting so very frustrated with them, and starting to get more and more tense, on the verge of shouting or tears? How interesting. Let's just let that go, shall we? Breathe in and breathe out. Connect to my feet on the ground, to my little ones' faces. They are laughing getting their sandals on together. Can I open to that sweet moment? Nothing else has to actually happen right now. Just this.
A wise teacher once told me that wanting things to be different than they are is inherently aggressive. I have chewed that one over in my mind often over the intervening years. It arises again and again with my children. Noticing when I want things to be different. It is a daily occurrence. Noticing, and letting go. Touching the emotion underneath - the sadness, the exhaustion maybe, maybe even some anger? And always underneath it all, the fear. The fear of space. That is why I rush them out the door. I somehow cannot rest with this space in the day, the lack of a place I must be, a thing I must accomplish, other than simply being with my children. Being fully present with them. All this open ended space, while they explore and grow and learn. I have difficulty trusting it. So I have to come back. Come back to my breath. Come back to them. Back to gentleness and compassion for myself, for the children, for my partner. Noticing the story I have been telling myself and believing in, instead of what actually is. "Reality is always kinder than the story we tell about it."
Yes, it is. Always so much kinder, gentler, nuanced and open than the tight little tale we weave and weave again. So this is the path for me right now. Noticing the story. Dropping it. Holding myself with gentleness so I can hold my little ones with loving kindness. Welcoming my husband back from retreat. Laughing at the clean laundry on the floor. Admitting to my two year old that I am tired, and so I am going to just sit in my rocker for a bit and read a book if he really doesn't want to nap. Not forcing him to, but just letting him know, gently, that I need to rest even if he doesn't, so I am going to, while still staying with him. And the very next day, shouting at my little ones after a sleepless night when they knock over all the shrine bowls full of water onto my favorite baby pictures of them. Then taking a breath, touching my tiredness fully, not making myself wrong for feeling it, or even for getting angry, but coming out and apologizing to them for expressing it so unskillfully, hugging them, and asking them not to do it again. Up and down. Back and forth. On the path and off. But still, always kinder, gentler than the story I tell about it.
Wishing you all gentleness and a full embrace of reality instead of the story this week. It can be hard, even painful to let it go. But I promise you, it really is so much kinder.