There was a time when I investigated the idea that it just might be possible to improve upon my current frazzled mental state. My husband was quite keen on the idea too. In retrospect, I suspect the idea might have come after a night of partying.
And so it came to pass that one early Monday morning found me reading a book called “A Course In Miracles”. I came to lesson 75 that told me “The light has come…you are at peace, and you bring peace with you wherever you go…”. Well I liked that idea.
In the kitchen our swarm had, with relatively subdued turmoil, turned the cupboards and fridge inside-out, made their lunches, donned their backpacks and made their way down our hill, the young ones to catch the big yellow school bus, and the older ones to be picked up by our neighbor whose parents had given him a much-coveted car. “Hmm,” thought I, “That was moderately peaceful. So far so good.”
Well I had (and have) so many kids that sometimes I missed one or two. As I moseyed over to put on the coffee pot, a tornado, in the guise of our teenage daughter, blasted into the kitchen. She had three minutes to eat, make her lunch, remove the rollers from her hair, style her hair, and get down the driveway to join her siblings. By the time we bolted out the door and jumped in the old suburban, the gang had been waiting seven minutes. I chastised her and she yelled, “Stop yelling!” Pointing out that I was not the one yelling was not well received. Slamming our door, she ran for the neighbor’s car.
And this was my peaceful beginning.
Returning home, I sipped my coffee and contemplated my morning lesson about the light that had come bringing peace. I’m pretty sure philosophers didn’t have kids in mind – or rather parenting in mind – when they write their treatises. ‘Sure’, thought I with just a hint of malice, ‘Give me ten years to sit and contemplate under a Banyan tree and I’ll be on my way to enlightenment too’.
Parents need a philosophy that is at the very least a coping mechanism, a handy crutch to grab when facing yelling teens and deadlines and messy kitchens and grumpy clients. We need a moving philosophy; one that applies to our lives as we live them at both low and high speed. We need courage to enter into the experience, whether painful or pleasant and to dissect the moment, savor the moment, let it go, and be content to let the next one arrive. The best advice that I ever got was actually from a very buff fitness instructor who each day told his eager, not-so-buff clients: “Just do your best and forget the rest.”
I sniffed my coffee. It was dark, hot and pleasant, and something I was content to peacefully savor. Then the phone rang, the icemaker on the fridge broke and cat peed on the carpet.