As usual, I did not allot enough time to get us ready to get out of the house. After rather frantically trying to bathe, dress, and feed myself, I woke Sami up and immediately started to change his pull-up and put on his pants. Of course, he did not appreciate me waking him up, nor did he like the pants I had chosen. He rarely, if ever, likes the pants I choose, and usually needs some time to decide which pants he would like to wear. (The shirt is generally not a problem, as he chooses it the night before.) This is all very human and civilized, and he should have some agency as regards which clothes go on his little bod.
But none of this enlightened thought was going on in my head at 7:40 when I was supposed to be out the door at 7:45. All the while, my mind is chattering to me, “you have to get to work. you have to get to work early. you can’t be late because then everyone will see what a slacker employee you are and then you will get fired. and if you get fired then you will be homeless and then…blah blah blah.”
At some point during the pants protest, with all these mental machinations churning in my brain, mama loses it. I try to force the pants on. He fights me. I fight back, and as I am bigger and stronger, I manage to put the pants on a kicking, screaming, clawing 40-pound preschooler. I put socks on his feet. He takes the pants off. Then he takes the socks off. I am yelling quite a lot by this point. I go downstairs to try to collect myself. He takes a full wastepaper basket and hurls it and its contents down the stairs. The stairs are now covered in garbage. I yell and scream some more as I pick up garbage. Briefly I wonder if the neighbors can hear. My friends are not staying with us this week, so Sami and I are on our own to duke it out. It’s all a blur at this point. Somehow, with much screaming and clawing and yelling and crying and me fighting back an enormous sob-fest of my own, we tantruming two manage to make it into the car.
I realize that I haven’t breathed the whole time.
I really want to cry my eyes out.
I am convinced that I’m the worst mother to ever push a baby out of her uterus.
When was the last time I meditated?
I can’t remember.
Looking back, it’s all kind of sadly funny. I can’t imagine how my face must have looked to Sami as I angrily collected the garbage from the stairs. He was sort of shocked that he pulled off such an in-your-face mommy challenge. I have to admit it was one of the most bad-ass things he has ever done. We’re both fire signs.
After I drop Sami off at school and get myself on the bus, I blast Sigur Ros on my Ipod and I close my eyes. I will not cry I will not cry I will not cry.
I have been thinking about all the ways I’m falling short in disciplining Sami. All the things that I need to do differently to cause him to behave better. But the truth is that mommy needs some discipline.
My meditation practice has pretty much up and vanished since I started this full-time job. I need to get it back. I need to start the day off with some mindfulness. It probably won’t mean that I’ll never yell at my kid again, never have a tantrum of my own. But perhaps I will be able to pause before I force pants onto a kicking child. It means that I might allot more time for us to have a peaceful start to our day instead of a crazy insane asylum rush-around. Perhaps I will cuddle him for a few minutes in the morning before getting down to the business of getting us out of the house. All of these things are possible with a pause, with space. And the only way for me to really remember to take that space on any kind of consistent basis is to practice non-doing.
This evening, as I parked the car in front of Sami’s school to pick him up, I set a conscious intention that the day end better than it began. And oh, it did. We took things slow. We kept it simple. After dinner, we sat together and drew in the quiet living room. Sami drew page after page of colorful scribbles and I drew a giant purple angel who filled my mind and heart with blissful silence. I felt connected to my child and connected to everything. In short, I remembered who I am, who he is, and who we are. We proceeded through the bedtime routine with patience and humor and I discovered that I might do the most kickass theatrical reading of Fox in Socks that anyone has ever heard. (Seriously, I should consider taking my act on the road.)
How gorgeous to see him laugh hysterically with every page, a laugh that makes me laugh that makes him laugh harder and we are just both collapsing in giggles at the tweetle beetle puddle battle. How amazing this parenting journey, always showing me the dharma, if only I will have the courage to listen, to act when action is needed, and to be still when stillness is required.
Welcome to this blog - my chronicle of the illuminating, character-building path of single parenthood. I'm making this up as I go along. My life is my practice, and my five year-old son is my greatest teacher.