The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I know so many Moms these days who I truly admire and respect--some are unmarried, some are with same-sex partners, others are in "traditional" relationships...and one is winging it on her own and doing an amazing job of it!

What strikes me as a common denominator, from an outsider's point of view, is that in each case, these children have wonderful support systems of adoring extended family, adopted aunties and uncles and a community that nurtures both mother and child in a very complex society.

Still, I know there are times when the going gets tough, that's what it means to be a Mom, but it seems to me that we are beginning to better value the intensive, intimate, sometimes bewildering job of being MOM. And this can only be of benefit to our children!

When I was a young mother, I had 3 children under the ages of 4 (all in diapers), and I frequently felt isolated and ignorant. What happened moment to moment was oftentimes spontaneous; joyful one moment, terrifying the next, and always exhausting! Without knowing it, I was living in Beginner's Mind, a state of mind that Shunryu Suzuki urged his Buddhist students to cultivate.

Many times during those years I had a wild fantasy that someone would knock on my door and hand be a bouquet of flowers for my superhuman efforts. Or in those dark periods, someone would come to the door, and without knocking, just walk in and say, "How the *$%#@ did you get these kids, and whatever made you think you could raise them without knowing what the *$%# you're doing?"

After all, they didn't come with instruction manuals....

After some months however, I realized that my children DID come with instruction manuals, and upon opening the pages, I found skillful instructions; "Teach me love, tolerance and peace through your example, allow me to thoroughly investigate my world safely (even if it looks like a mess), practice infinite patience, and at the end of the day, leave it all behind and get ready for whatever the next day might bring."

And by the time my youngest was 3, I decided to train with the Montessori Institute to lead a 3-6 year old classroom, which I did for several years.
In other words, I fell in love with being a Mom!

Of course, it doesn't always work out this way, and I obviously made many mistakes (my kids will tell you that!).

I remember talking to the Pediatrician one day about some sort of "phase" my daughter was going through, where she basically looked into her full cup of orange juice, looked at me, then dumped it all on the floor....time and time again.... (hello Mom, get a lid for the cup!)
I asked the Dr. how much time I should give her before she understands the importance of not dumping your food on the floor, and he said to me, "Well, how much time do you give yourself when you're learning something new?"
A little lightbulb went off.
I replied, "I give myself as much time as I need."
The Dr. just smiled at me.
And sure, it wasn't long before she worked through that "phase" and moved on to another.

But I recall that brief discussion as being a turning point, and I still apply that lesson in so many aspects of living and interacting with others.

I call it the Orange Juice Suggestion For Life, and that's what I'm observing at work in the upbringing of so many fortunate children, thanks to awesome, skillful Moms!

And to my Mom, who Rocks the World, Happy Mother's Day!
Thanks for always letting me be my self, no matter what.

1 comment:

Brennan said...

mama i love you!!!!!!