Today I had a tantrum. I woke up feeling irritated to begin with (probably PMT) and the kids were all over me from the onset. The noise of my area was getting to me. I live on a busy street, so between the noisy cars and hustle and bustle of melbourne life, combined with the endless questions and talking from the kids, all I wanted to do by the afternoon was disappear into silence and alone time.
I yelled at them, (could possibly have thrown the 'F' word in there too - whoopsies) got up, threw my sunglasses across the room, slammed a kitchen cupboard door closed and walked outside, leaving my kids laughing their heads off at me because they thought I was joking. But I wasn't. I had had enough and just needed some space from everything.
So I went and had a bath and a bit of reflection time. I started to think about all the knowledge I had about being able to stay calm, stop anger and accept whatever is happening without conflict in my mind. I started to think, "this is what I teach people and for the most part I am able to do this, but here I am still losing the plot and allowing my mind to take over. What a hypocrite I am. Why does this still happen to me after all these years of learning about myself?
I mean it doesn't seem to happen to all the spiritual gurus that I have learned these practices from, so what am I doing wrong? Why can't I always practice patience and calmness and appreciate whatever is happening and the reality of the now?
Then I started to think about the lives of these 'gurus'. Buddha, Lao Tsu, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, even the author of Eat, Pray, Love who seemed to be so calm and serene when interviewed on the Oprah show, and I realised.....none of them have young kids! Most of them don't even have kids at all!
It's all well and good to live this peaceful existence when you can retreat into your own personal space away from the world at will, or if you can't right in that moment, then at some point they know that they can go back to their homes and do whatever they want to do - including getting a full nights sleep! Mums don't have that liberty....unless of course they are going to get up at 5am in the morning to meditate (which incidentally is exactly what I'm doing at the moment), or wait until their kids have gone to bed at night, or when they plan some time out. But there are no long moments outside of those times to catch your serenity amidst fighting, nagging, clingy, demanding children during the day, is there? At least, not enough to completely restore this calm and connected self.
Whose to say that these guys wouldn't struggle to maintain there inner peace when faced with all the noise that us mums have to endure day in day out. I would love to see them in action for a week in my house and learn off them if they are able to maintain this way of being, or laugh at them and feel normal if they couldn't.
Now, I'm not using having kids as an excuse to lose the plot and get angry, because the reality is that it is our thoughts that are in conflict with what is actually playing out in front of me that is actually causing the anger, and it is the non-acceptance of the now that is causing the stress. I take full responsibility for my anger and that it was not the events (kids jumping all over me and the noise) causing my stress, but my thoughts about those events. However, I have also gained a more realistic viewpoint on the reality of being able to match the peaceful persona of these worldly teachers that we always hear about.
You see whenever we have a goal, there is a journey that occurs on the way to reaching this goal. Every single one of those 'gurus' went through a process of learning and practice before they got to their calm states of mind. I even remember Wayne Dyer (who has 8 children) saying in one of his talks that he used to still get angry and let his ego mind take over, but this happens less and less now. Well, yeah, all your kids have grown up now!!!! You live in Maui for goodness sake!!!
There is no doubt that these spiritual teachers have evolved to a level where nothing really bothers them anymore, and possibly they could stay calm when handling young kids, but this came from years of mastering their mind, meditating in quiet, peaceful environments and living their philosophies day in and day out.
What I'm trying to say is be careful if you are trying to attain a continual mental state of being calm and capable of accepting all of your experiences 24/7. Be careful if you are trying to live up to expectations of perceived 'enlightened' people. Most of these 'gurus' have learnt these states of being without the norms of daily life (including raising children), or have aged past the stage of families where the ability to live quieter lives is easier. Peaceful states come with a quiet mind and a quiet mind is difficult to attain when your environment is noisy.
But please, correct me if I'm wrong. If you know of a 'guru' who is completely peaceful and serene AND has young children, please tell me who they are, because I want to learn off them!!
In the meantime, know that you are on your own journey of learning and with that will come highs and lows, tantrums and feelings of elation. Know that only through learning and practice will you get better at reaching states of calmness and peace more often, which I have now realised is what is happening for me. There are definitely things that don't bother me anymore where they once would have and I can definitely say that anger like this doesn't arise in me anywhere near as often as it used to.
You are always doing the best you can and you are perfect just that way you are because you are learning and growing and, that, my friends, is exactly what we are here to do in this life.
If you are knew at this whole being able to change your mindset thing (especially in the context of being a mum), then The Happy Mum Handbook is a great way to teach you how to learn this skill....and it is a skill. But please remember that you are experiencing a journey through motherhood, and through life and you will continually experience ups and downs, times where you love life and times where you abhor the things you are doing. As, is the core of the teachings of buddhism - everything rises and passes away.
Apparently, so does my temper!