28 September 2010

Loving Kindness

I feel like I should have a post, but I'm not sure I do. Life's been busy enough for a post, but it's pretty much the same stuff it was a week ago, all still in the same limbo it was before. I do think we've found an au pair; I had a couple of great calls with a woman in Bolivia, and then the kids and I Skyped with her over the weekend and we agreed to be "matched," but since then I've not heard a word from her about what her preferred arrival date is, so I'm getting nervous. I need that lucky childcare star to keep shining, please.*

One of the blogs I follow is Sam's. Her mother and older brother died in the 9/11 attacks, leaving her and her two younger sisters. Her posts about grief often ring incredibly true for me. Sam's doing a 30-day themed writing exercise, and day one was to write about something you hate within yourself. She mentioned her rage. That sure struck a chord. Sam didn't tie her rage back to her grief, and for her, it might not be as grief-tethered as it is for me. But still, the loathing of that aspect of personality hit a raw nerve as I struggle mightily with that myself.

At church on Sunday the service was devoted to the practice of loving kindness meditation. Loving kindness is designed to clear negative thoughts towards others out of the mind, to focus on love and compassion instead. In the Buddhist practice, you start with directing loving kindness toward yourself, the idea being that feeling compassion for the self is the easiest place to begin. Ha ha ha ha ha. The minister recognized that Americans tend to have a very difficult time being kind to ourselves and let us begin by focusing on someone we love, then someone to whom we feel neutral. We skipped focusing on someone toward whom we feel hostile; that is a task for us to work out on our own. Instead, we ended by focusing on ourselves, on choosing an aspect of self that we have trouble loving and accepting. For me, it was anger, making it all the more striking to read Sam's post yesterday.

The loving kindness practice was moving for me and has been much on my mind since Sunday. It's inspired me not so much to treat myself with more kindness, but to treat Maddie and Riley with more kindness. I haven't been such a nice mom in the past few weeks. It's easy to blame that on the stresses in our lives and at my work right now, but that doesn't excuse my behavior or make me proud of it. Sunday was really healing for me, and has had a positive impact on our lives in just a few short days. I've gone back to one of the few parenting books I like and have been using some of its strategies to manage behavior and focus on finding compromise solutions rather than turning everything into a win/lose scenario. For any of you who have read/enjoyed this book, were you as taken as I was by the motto "We are a problem-solving family!"? I must have said that ten times today, and wouldn't you know it, it worked. It got us through a few tough moments cooperatively.

I'm hoping to keep at least some of the Zen. I went for a run today during lunch for the first time in a week and a half; work is getting back to a state where I should once again be able to do that more regularly, and that is sure to help. I'm eating relatively well, if too copiously. I'm certainly getting enough sleep. The stress is exhausting me and I'm often asleep by 9:30 p.m. these days. I like the love rather than the hate, the peace rather than the anger, the flexibility rather than the rigidness. I keep it, thanks.

*Heard from her today! She is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. on November 1. Hooray!


Angela said...

Love this post. I really need to follow those feelings and thoughts of loving kindness meditation. Thank you for this thoughtful and healing post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a wonderful post. It is hard during the stressful times to keep the zen, but I think that is always where the lessons are learned. In case you are looking, here is another parenting book I really love: http://www.amazon.ca/Raising-Happiness-Simple-Happier-Parents/dp/0345515617

Yankee, Transferred said...

This is a great post. I told my girls recently that when I look back at their really early years, I was glad I had books to keep me on the right path with them. I hope you realize (I'm sure you do) that the waves of grief manifest themselves in a myriad of ways, and although it is some years down the road since John's death, you still feel it - and see it in their faces. They look so like him, each of them in her/his own way. Of course your anger is connected to your grief. You are a good mama, Snick, and I know 'em when I see 'em.
Big hugs from me. Hugs and virtual tulips.

Snickollet said...

@Anon: That book looks great.

@YT: Love you :).

Clover said...

Hey you- haven't looked at blogs in ages and its so funny that you are using an au pair- I am as well. She's coming on 10/15.
And how the hell do you do this single mom/working mom thing? Its killing me and I'm not even full time yet. And I spend more in child care than I make every week.

Snickollet said...

@Clover: the single-working mom schedule thing reminds me of parenting infants in this way: it's completely relentless and you have to let go of a lot of your standards. At some point, it's just normal, if difficult.

Re: the money, I am "lucky" to get Social Security death benefits that cover the cost of my childcare, or close to it. I mean, I'm not lucky that John died, but I truly am grateful for that money.

I hope your au pair works out. Where is she from? Let's try to chat sometime, phone or google. In all our free time, ha ha ha ha ha.

OTRgirl said...

So glad that your au pair is on the way soon! That's great news.

I like this post. I've noticed with most of my women friends that anger is one of the hardest emotions for them to express. I think we've been so limited by the 'nice' dogma that we don't have healthy ways to show anger. I'm glad you're learning to be loving toward yourself.

Catherine said...

Hope all is well, miss your updates and point of view!