On the rare occasion that I feel I have it all together I can almost always count on my kids to remind me otherwise. I must also confess that despite having some free spirited, relaxed and go with the flow qualities, I am a closet control freak. I thirst for order, simplicity, and peace. Achieving those ideals comes down to focusing on making those the qualities of the inner world even when the outer world is anything but. Life hands us all challenges and frustrations, we live in the mess of it all. My messiness just happens to be delivered to me, quite often, by the very nearest and dearest loves of my life, my kids.
My experiences as a parent have taught me volumes on the subjects of patience, acceptance, and conflict resolution. My kids showed me early on that these are areas where I have been almost completely lacking, well, until they came along to train me. All three of my children also inherited my, and their dad's, fierce independence and stubborn nature and, like us, not nearly the same amount of patience.
So recently, on a day where I was on the go, getting loads of things checked off as accomplished, I felt in control, handling life with ease, and then the kids intervened. Fighting with each other is a very common, and in my opinion, the most grating and nerve splitting activity. I was so in my cool and in control zone, but that instantly evaporated when I heard the first tones of yelling, crying and accusations flying. "He hit me!" "She pinched me!" "It is all his/her fault!" This falls upon me like nails on a chalkboard, I recoil from the chaos, I try to stay calm, try to find my yoga breath. My first request that they stop is calm, but drowned out by the continued conflict. My second request a louder "Please stop!", still ignored. Finally I lose any patience I once had and at great volume say " STOP NOW, PLEASE!!!!" At this, they all pause to look at me and then attack me with finger pointing and blame directing intensity. The power I do have, is to send them to time out, or take away privileges, but on occasion that is met with sharp and stubborn answers of no. In the end, punishments are served and apologies always come (from kids and parents alike), peace returns, but not because I have total control. In reality, I have little more control over them than I do the weather. OK yes, I provide a healthy and nurturing environment, set limits and guide them. I give them love and structure, and in the world of nature versus nurture I think both are very important, but they are their own people and have been from the beginning. If I have molded them at all they have equally molded me and the illusion of control gets shattered over and over again. What a gift!
I have learned that the only thing I really control is my own thoughts, feelings and actions. The more I focus on my responses and inner environment the more I am able to have that sense of order, simplicity and peace. Opening with compassion and unconditional love to people is difficult, and then when our own identity and sense of self is wrapped into it, that can make it nearly impossible at times. Everyone comes into this life with unique gifts as well as flaws. Everyone has a journey to go through and lessons to learn and my children are part of my journey and I am part of theirs. One of my wisest teachers talks about how we make soul agreements with others, especially immediate family, before we come into this world. We make these partnerships to achieve the learning and evolution we are intended to in this life. I have not quite wrapped my mind around that concept, but it is very intriguing. What I do know, is that in any relationship, when we are trying to control the other person because of fear or desire, unconditional love is lost. To even try to love unconditionally might be the most challenging spiritual practice a person can aspire to. I, for one, think it is well worth it to try and fail, and then try and fail again. Giving up control, in the end, is the doorway to true freedom and true love.