I am easily knocked off balance when they are angry with me, when they say words that are hurtful to me or treat me in a way that feels disrespectful. (Again, I know I do the same things to them sometimes.) My gut reaction is anger. I YELL! I don't want to react in this way and we always end up apologizing with true remorse and desire to heal the hurts. None of us want this. Nancy suggested that perhaps if now that it has reappeared in my life, I could call to mind the clay heart with the word tenderness stamped into it, I could begin to alter this pattern. By directing my attention to the experience of feeling hurt when one of the girls begins shouting or isn't behaving in a way that feels respectful to me, I can see what is true in the moment...then space opens up for a new possibility; offering my own heart tenderness before I open my mouth and YELL in anger, which only serves to increase the painfulness of the situation for us all. In essence, if I can be loving to myself then I don't need the girls to be kind in all moments in order to feel safe and "good enough" when their truth in that given moment is that they are feeling angry (perhaps someday, when they learn to examine their own delicate hearts more closely they might discover hurt, disappointment, frustration, anxiety or other feelings arising before their anger begins too..but that's another story.) This practice cultivates both chesed, lovingkindness and menuchat hanefesh equanimity...ultimately inviting rachamim, compassion into our relationships with each other and shalom bayit, peace in our home. And so the "tenderness" heart sits on my night stand (and will remain there) to remind me of this when, for example, one of the girls comes running up to my room in a whirlwind of anger because she "can't find_________ and why did You move it? lose it? blah, blah, blah...Mom You forget everything. You LOSE all my stuff. Why are You such a neat freak? It's all You ever care about! blah blah BLAH!" In my defense, this is the stuff they leave lying around, I get tired of seeing it, tripping over it, and often pick it up for them because I've reminded them 10 times already and I can't stand the clutter anymore...I've run out of patience waiting for them to put it away "in a minute!" Admittedly I do forget where I put their things afterward (and MS probably plays a role in my forgetfulness)..but it's not MY stuff and I don't always know where They want it! (and if I were obsessed with neatness everything would have it's own place and I would know where Their stuff goes...but I'm NOT a neat freak, I just get overwhelmed by an abundance of chaos-not at all the same thing, SO THERE!) Oh am I yelling on my blog? Sorry. You'd think after 16 years of being Mom I would also remember that I'm the grown-up and NOT the child. Then again, sometimes my own inner child gets angry, frustrated, hurt, annoyed blah, blah blah...and well, there you have it...this is precisely why I need to mother her too...with tenderness as Nancy suggested.
As our session came to a close, Nancy remembered a beautiful offering from our mutual friend, colleague and teacher, Rabbi Myriam Klotz:
a lev rach (soft heart)
is livracha (for blessing)
May I live my life with a lev rach (soft heart) so that all of my interactions in the world, with everyone I meet, and in all of my relationships are livracha (for blessing).
g'mar hatima tova