Saturday, March 2, 2013


Before I became a mother, I had planned to enter the monastery. Or, nunnery, as it were, in Santa Barbara, California. It was a Vedantic Monastery and I felt called to follow a spiritual path. My dearest Swamiji, who passed on with a smile on his face ravaged by cancer, was a lovely and incredibly human being. He would hand me a hundred dollars when I came to the temple in Toronto. And he introduced me to Vrajaprana, a nun who was also an author. I was working as the assistant to a writer who was writing a book about the man who introduced Hinduism to the west, a disciple of Ramakrishna. I was filled with purpose.

And then I screwed it up. As usual.

But when I called Vrajaprana to tell her that I would not be coming, that I was, in fact, pregnant...she was full of wisdom and compassion. I was fasting and hiding myself from the world, devastated and confused. I was not only pregnant but I was pregnant with my boss's child. And he was a married man. I could not have screwed up bigger. Like so many other women who are insecure and vulnerable, I fell for a sob story straight from a cheap novel. And within a week, I was pregnant. I wanted to go out with a bang. No pun intended. It was just my last hurrah. I did it out of compassion for someone who felt unloved and lost. For whatever reason I did it, my plans were now destroyed. Vrajaprana told me that flagellation was no longer sanctioned and would not help me. Guilt can only destroy. She also told me that she had had a child and when her child was old enough to be independant, she entered the monastery. So, all hope was not lost. I had a decision to make and I needed to focus on the present.

And so, I began eating and meditating. The realization that motherhood was in itself a spiritual pursuit came from those meditations. But I still screwed up. I was now knee deep in a situation that had so much capacity to hurt and to kill the spirit that it took me many years to crawl out of it. An affair can be exciting and you find yourself caught up in it. In the end, nothing good comes from it. Except in my case, I found myself married to my ex-boss and with five children. It took almost dying to wake me up from the illusion I was living. It was almost dying that taught me what a gift life is and how short time is. When I almost died, I began to live.

I can see the path I have walked clearly and am filled with gratitude for lessons that I have learned. But sadly, every mistake that i have made has been lived not just by me, but by my children. Children are fresh slates and if I were to keep a record of every time one of my decisions caused my children pain, I would not be able to face each new day. Yet, whenever I think that in some way I have caused my kids irreparable damage, that they will be confused adults with no sense of purpose, they will parrot something I said to them or show such incredible depth and empathy and compassion for others that I can only rejoice. Somewhere, in the confusion of the last fifteen years, I taught them life lessons that will give them a foundation.

I like to call myself invincible. An everyday, average conquerer or the universe. A viking. An amazon. I never give up. I am nothing if not tenascious and sometimes that kicks me in the ass. I will never be knocked down to the point where I cannot get back up. If I have to crawl on my hands and knees, I will. Every set back is an opportunity to grow. Stepping outside my comfort zone is something I do with a sprint and a leap. I see this in my children now and am so grateful that they are not seeing my life as a defeat and are in their own way finding ways to grow and do not give up. Last year, when Isabella was told that she would spend the next year with a teacher that she feared, I told her that I would try to get her out of that class if she wished. Isabella said to me that she WANTED this challenge. Not only did she want to face her fears but she wanted the chance to be the one student who made this teachers job worth working. She would be the student that reminded her why she became a teacher. It was taking a lot on her shoulders. I worried. But I stood by her and together we learned a great deal that year. She learned that she can't be responsible for someone elses moods. Or stress. Or anger. She is very sensitive, very intuitive and she always wants to do her best. If she is doing her best and someone is STILL upset, she takes that personally. As the year progressed, I watched her stand her ground and go thru her day with a smile even if she broke down in tears later at home. Crying is ok, I told her every time. A little nervous breakdown won't hurt you. But get back up. Take a deep breath and swallow is my mantra to my girls.

When, after four years, my partner ended a relationship that I thought would last forever, I knew that I was not the only one hurting. My kids thought of L as their mother. And they were devastated. It was important to me that I hold it together. But to deny that I was also hurting would have been plastic. I made sure they knew that I felt their pain but also that I was not going to stop living. Tears were ok but quitting was not. Determined that this would be a life lesson and not a defeat, I told that that people will always come and go. But they come with a gift. And we have a gift to give them. When we hold onto something after its purpose has been fulfilled, we are going upstream. We are not supposed to chain people to us. We are only postponing the next phase that the universe has for us when we hold onto something that should really be set free. If we impacted my partner, if we sent her with our gift and we grew from the experience then that is enough. Time to move on and see what spirit has in store for us. We might not understand another person's path but it is not our place to judge it. We must let them walk it. We are on our own journeys and why would we want to stop in the middle of the path when we are meant to keep walking? I know that we all felt that pain and that we grieved but we are healing every day and by learning this lesson I pray they will avoid unnecessary heart break in their own lives. They have learned that heart break happens. And that a broken heart won't kill you.

I am not living behind the walls of a nunnery. But my home is my sanctuary. When I see my values reflected in my children, I kvell. I swell with pride. I am filled with gratitude and love. I wanted to change the world. With five children, I AM changing the world. I have watched other children and I have seen the very worst that life can throw at us. My children are still children and they are still learning. They are not always kind. They are not always compassionate. Definitely they do not always respect the people around them. But I see how gentle they can be and when I compare them to many of the kids on the playground, I am comforted in the knowledge that they are going to grow up to be adults that I am proud of. Seth is the most goal oriented, driven fifteen year old I have ever seen. He lets his little sisters sleep with him. He wakes up before the sun just to enjoy those very spiritual, quiet, still moments as the world wakes up around him. Seth is filled with a wisdom usually reserved for those twenty years his senior. He struggles just like every other teenager but he searches his mistakes for the silver lining and then he works to not repeat that mistake. Riley is the most affectionate child I know. He still wants to be snuggled and hugs the people around him. Often. Ian is a gifted writer. Because he is autistic, he can look at a situation and find a solution that most people would never see. He is the bravest kid I have ever met. Even when he walks the halls of school alone and deals with comments that would sink me to my knees, he holds his head up and he goes back. And Sage...Sage has an imagination and way of looking at the world that will change everyone around her. If someone is sick, she will lay her hands on them and close her eyes and heal them. She talks to spirits. She sees angels. She is of a new generation that is born remembering Who They Really Are and she reminds me every day that we are God "godding". Isabella is still taking under her wing those who are broken and filling them with love and acceptance. I do not need to discipline Isabella because she is always immediately sorry when she reacts like a normal girl with hormones and works to repair any hurt she has caused. She is beautiful in every way.

I don't take this job lightly. I am their teacher. I am their example. I am not healthy and need to rest often but even this is a blessing when it enables me to be here full time for my family. Being chronically ill also teaches the kids to be kind to those who are not well and to give of themselves to people in need. Of course, this is hard for them. And some days it is not easy to find the energy to be fully available to five growing kids. But I am here with my arms wide open and ears to listen. And advice that I can already tell is not all bad. I can only be who I am.

No comments:

Post a Comment