It was during my family’s living room “campout” last weekend that I found myself scanning my surroundings for an escape….could I tiptoe through the dining room into the hall and up the stairs to my bedroom…slowly creak open the front door and slip out into the front yard…open a nearby window and jump out of it…cut out a hole in the floor around me and drop down into the crawl space?
But let me back up a bit. Last weekend was the hottest weekend ever, at least here in Pasadena. We decided to set up our tent and some of our camping paraphernalia in our living room and have a pretend camp out. The kids loved the idea and as soon as the tent was assembled, had filled it with every toy, stuffed animal and/or object from all of their bedrooms. After dinner they got ready for bed and squeezed themselves into their sleeping bags amidst all the toys. Then it was: STORY TIME around the video of a fire crackling away on Theo’s ipad. Arnor started, because he is the official story teller of our family…it was a scary story from when he was a kid and he thought a troll was coming to get him. And then came the kids stories…and the kids acting out of stories which quickly turned into a lot of rolling around in the toy filled tent…and that’s when my enjoyment of this special, bucolic moment started to wane. Can you identify with me, or is this really just me? I was a part of something so dear and wonderful and “fun” and I was itching with restlessness…it took all of my strength to resist the urge to escape in all the ways described above.
I notice this type of impatience popping up a lot as a mom…especially as a mom with kids learning remotely from home. There are so many interruptions to the occasional moments I have to myself. And usually, the interruptions feel very long and slow to me. Even as I was writing this blog post, Elise popped up next to me in tears with her math workbook and pencil saying, “Everyone else got to page 3 already and I’m only on page 1….” Or last weekend when I was making pancakes and wanted to get it done efficiently, quickly and neatly and Gus appeared and wanted to help… Or the other night when I was reading peacefully in my bed and Theo flopped down on the end of the bed to complain about the fact that even though his gaming controller is supposed to operate via bluetooth and he has watched numerous videos on how to troubleshoot it not working, it still won’t work! And then Gus squeezed himself next to me and wanted to ask me a couple questions such as, “Is Sonic the Hedgehog faster than our neighbor’s car?”
To quote Pema Chodrin (When Things Fall Apart), “This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.” And I know this is true because I know that it’s theoretically possible to NOT want to escape moments like these. Even when I’ve had no time to myself all day. It’s a brain error telling me I can’t relax unless I have peace, quiet and NO KIDS around. When really, I could probably relax just fine with the kids around me and this moment is the perfect teacher to teach me just that. The problem is that in a lot of kid-free moments, I find that enjoyment comes naturally to me. So I’ve made the mental leap that kid-free moments are the better moments. Me reading alone is a better moment than me listening to Theo complain or answering Gus’s random questions…or so I’ve decided. The life coach Brooke Castillo says (in her podcast, entitled, It Doesn’t Get Better Than This), “Being aware of the present moment simply means you never believe the illusion that the future is going to be better than what is going on right now.” Brooke goes on to say “We’re often trading our happiness in this moment for some future moment we believe will be better or even some past moment we thought was better. Really our capacity for joy is always the same in both of those moments.”
What’s so interesting is that in moments like these, what really gets me is my own resistance to my own resistance…I’m so mad at myself for not enjoying the moment, so guilty for wanting to defenestrate myself…so ashamed that I can’t find the gratitude for something that’s such a gift in my life! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! I think if I open up to the idea that a moment in which I am impatient and grumpy might be just as good a moment as a moment when I am relaxed and joyful, there might be a way forward. I know theoretically that I can create more joy in these kinds of moments with a perspective shift, but first I need to stop resisting my own negative emotions so much. Though I’m sure I should be superhuman, it turns out I’m only human and sometimes humans feel this way. Welcome to life! I’ll let you know how it goes….
What’s so interesting is that in moments like these, what really gets me is my own resistance to myself…I’m so mad at myself for not enjoying the moment, so guilty for wanting to defenestrate myself…so ashamed that I can’t find the gratitude for something that’s such a gift in my life! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! I think if I open up to the idea that a moment in which I am impatient and grumpy might be just as good a moment as a moment when I am relaxed and joyful, there might be a way forward. I know theoretically that I can create more joy in these kinds of moments with a perspective shift, but first I need to stop resisting my own negative emotions so much. I’m human and sometimes humans feel this way. Welcome to life! Let’s see how this goes…