A picture of Addie, with the blood of many cherries on her murderous little hands:
I get to reading parenting books when I'm having particular struggles with the kids or with the momminess, which is why I've been inundating these posts with references lately. I was just getting so frustrated with Addie, and couldn't locate the source of that frustration. So I looked for help. I'm working through How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will, Too, Parenting with Love and Logic (haven't started it yet), and my current favorite (I'm gaga amazed loving it), The Parents' Tao Te Ching by William Martin. I picked it up at the bookstore yesterday, figuring what the heck. And it's really, really good.
It's really, really good for me, especially, because it's all about releasing the need to control. Which, if you know me, whoa. My major struggle in life, right? But it all ties in to the discussion I've been having with you and with myself about changing my expectations for my kids, the way I see them.
So I read this book between sips of coffee, picking up cheerios off the floor, making the kids breakfast, and just general hanging out this morning. I kept nodding and saying "yep" to myself as I was reading, and resolved to try some of what the book suggests, then and there. For example,
THEIR MYSTERIOUS ORIGIN
Did your children really begin
with the union of your bodies?
Or is their origin more mysterious?
means no time,
Do your children,
who visit you in time,
really reside in eternity?
If you try to grasp them,
they slip away.
They are more than what you see and hear and feel.
They belong somewhere else
and only visit here.
So why do you worry?
If the Tao is good, it is completely good
and your children are safe regardless of appearances.
I believed that when my son was struggling with problems.
I believe it now when he is a handsome, content adult.
I will believe it if future trouble visits his life.
I believe it.
I mean, I just get the most enormous comfort from this. Always, I love it when I hear that I don't have to worry. I think it's why one of my favorite songs of all time is Marley's "Everything Is Going to Be Alright." I love to be reminded of this, of its simplicity. Because, my god, do I worry! I fret about global warming and water shortages and class warfare and general chaos and destruction for my girls' futures. And that's only the big stuff. I worry the little things, too, though I'm doing this less. I'm rewiring, but it takes time.
But this idea, that they are eternal, these girls, is a little reprieve, right? If the Tao is good, it is completely good.
There are many things you need not know, writes Martin. You need not know everything your children think or do. You need not know their secred dreams and hopes. You need not know how life will unfold for them, or for yourself.
And, this: If you are always worried about your children's safety, you will bind yourself, and them, in cords of tension. If you try to hold them always close to you, you will bring yourself, and them, only pain. If you release them to live their life fully, and face their death serenly, your nights will be filled with restful sleep.
If someone had told me three years ago, right after having Addie, to "release her" and "face her death serenely" I would have called the cops on them. Then again, I wasn't exactly having nights "filled with restful sleep." But now I see how important this is; though every part of me wants to cling to these girls, to protect them and make them safe, I must know that they will go out into the world. They will be both safe and at risk, as Martin says. They will live and they will die. And still, Everything Is Going to Be Alright. Completely good. Eternal.
Anyway, I don't know if it was coincidental or what, but we had one of the loveliest days together today--a picnic by the river, swimming at the Y, peace and contentment for all. And both girls went to bed early, and tired (unlike last night, when they were ungodly screaming banshees well into the witching hours). Good thing they're in daycare tomorrow; I'd hate to ruin the winning streak.