Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fruit and Nuts

A few days ago I read my dear friend Christine's blog post about Mother's day, and as I read my head was bobbling up and down in agreement and complete empathy.  You should definitely go read it, if you haven't already, but I'll sum up.  She says that this Mother's Day was bittersweet for her.  That her children still have difficulty dealing with a day to honor someone else.  Sure, they can hold their stuff together, at least until the day after.  Maybe even completely.  But why?  Well, because they know what happens when they trash a special day.  There are consequences, and they have to make repairs.  They have stuff they want to do this week.  Restitution and repair aren't on their short list.  So though it is a victory of sorts, it still has little to do with loving and honoring Mom. 

I submit that it is.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  What does that even mean?

I think about emergencies, crises, chaotic times.  These are the times that love is most necessary, yet so often absent.  We kick it into overdrive.  We do what we have to do to get through.  Sometimes survival is all we can muster the energy for. 

So what happens when you live in survival mode from the day you are born.  Children are naturally self centered, even cherished, nourished children.  They have to be taught to look beyond themselves.  It takes time and patience, and when we see it happening, we know that our children are growing to maturity. 

My first reaction to my traumatized child's survival mode is to say they are completely self centered.  They look out for number one.  They make sure they get their share.  They fight for it if need be.  But this is a superficial understanding of the situation.  My child is not loving their self, because they battle against that same self, at the same time they battle everyone else. 

My child is trapped in a place where they can only fight for themself in this very moment.  It's an emergency, a crisis.  Adrenaline is flooding, fear is consuming.  There is no tomorrow, there was no yesterday.  They cannot even have empathy for their own future self.  They do not care if their actions in this moment will cost their self dearly.  They have no compassion for their own future tears or regrets.  They don't give a damn about the loss that child of tomorrow may suffer.  I have seen them weep for their own stupidity, and cry out how much they hate that child of an hour ago, that made such a mess for them to have to deal with.

Part of growing up, part of learning to love ourselves, is learning to discipline ourselves in the moment.  The child learns to predict an outcome.  They learn to empathize with their future self, understanding how they may feel with that outcome.  They make their choices based on that understanding and empathy. 

Their world begins to expand.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Life is not an emergency.  I am not in crisis.  I can have compassion on myself.  How might it feel to have compassion on another?  I experience kindness.  Can I share it as well?  Reach inside and find that there is something there, other than fear and adrenaline.  The fruit of mature self discipline is sweet, and there is enough for myself, and plenty to share.

Learning to discipline our self for our self, is the budding of the virtue of self discipline.  Learning to discipline our self so that we may properly love others is the mature fruit.  And so while the immature, hard little fruits are still bitter in our mouths, they are there.  Given a full summer of sun and rain, I have hope that they will grow and ripen.

Of course Christine knows this as well as I do.  I am truly preaching to the choir here.  That's what we do.  We speak the truth of our situation, and our heads bobble up and down in agreement.  I know how you feel, I feel that way too.  Then we go our way, thinking about it, turning it over in our mind, probing it for more than our own emotional reaction, probing it for the truth.  My emotions tell me the fruit is a little bitter and hard yet.  I feel the urge to spit it out.  Wait a minute...what am I saying here?  That's fruit mama, that's FRUIT!

Monday, May 9, 2011

For The Working Mom

A sometimes free-form, sometimes rhyming poem by Boo, in honor of my birthday and Mother's Day.  A departure from her usual acrostic style birthday card, it was attached to a pan of rice custard pudding (one of my favorites), that she had labored over for hours, throwing away more than one failure before achieving success.  In the world of RAD, nothing is sweeter than rice custard pudding and a poem on lined notebook paper.

there are so many words i could use to describe
what you do, and how, and why 

now the what, that's most easy to explain
they are very practical things for which you need a rather large brain
cleaning, i would say, is the most heavily done
which you find can also be a lot of fun
(except for cleaning my unmentionables)
cooking you do, more often than not
and when we rave about your soups
your heart becomes softened
sewing, i would say, is your most meticulous job
which you prefer to do alone, away from your children-mob
(and sometimes even dad!)
life lessons you teach are also quite important
you've helped me out of many rough spots
and helped me get my life sorted
(dad is always there too!)

now the how
i think explaining it is a no-brainer
cleaning and cooking with your hands
i've seen nothing stranger
now, the sewing , i would say,
is done with use of your mind
and your hand-sewn jobs
as a result are one-of-a-kind
the life lessons are given with mind and mouth
which are the very same lessons
that you've gone through
with the very same how
(how, meaning solution)

now the why is much more complex
and time consuming
this definitely needs the most explaining
and the most reviewing
there are many reasons why you do what you do
but the first, and foremost
is just because you want to
from this i choose to expand very greatly
because the in-depth reason is actually very stately

the main reason you want to is simply this:
you care enough to want to
you care enough about your family
to want to keep our clothes clean
you care enough about your family
to want to give us the advice we need
and all because you choose to

and the fact that you do all this
with no complaining, whatsoever amiss
makes me carry a great respect
because of the fact that i am so thoroughly impressed
(and because i appreciate your work)

so for the working mom i have this message:
thank you
i hope you know just how much you are needed
and the simple knowledge
just how much you are wanted
for the working mom i say it again
thank you
and i hope you comprehend
the sincerity of this message.