Sunday, November 3, 2013


I encounter an intense amount of guilt when looking back on moments where I hit the end of my rope, find my bucket of patience empty, hear myself say "I've got nothin' left".  With my kids, that's at least 365 times a year.  Frustration abated, I am diligent to apologize, letting them know that my love for them is strong regardless of mood.  But I drift off to sleep with thoughts of how they deserve a better mom, they don't deserve the anger of an adult; they are just curious beings learning the ways of the world, much like myself, and I wish not to squash that.

I observe in my world, that anger, sorrow, frustration, guilt, ect are all feelings within human nature.  I practice embracing it.  "Hello anger", and holding fast to its temporary nature.  The study of mindfulness brings me back to this again and again.  "youth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not getting what one wants is suffering"  "it is the common bond we all share" -Ajahn Sumedho

My role as a parent is a catalyst for learning, for providing the environment where they can collect tools in their tool belt for life.  Tools even, for how to handle their anger.  I find I talk a lot, but I see the best results when I've set a consistent solid example.  Pleases and Thank yous, napkin in the lap, underpants before pants, all mirrored behaviors that no amount of nagging would achieve.  Even my childhood memories lack phrasing, rather, comprises entirely of modeling, such as guiding me through a decision making process with presence and compassion rather than telling my stubborn being "no", how the adults around me treated each other, whether they picked up trash on the trail side, or donated their time to others.  I act just like, or just unlike, my parents.  Damn it then, my daily frustration, welling up, as I attempt to tell my kids what they should know. 

It occurs to me a victory I was not quiet enough to see until recently, and I thank my best friend for being the catalyst on this one.  The very act of recognizing my anger, taking ownership of it, talking out loud with them about when my anger has left me, what it felt like, that I love them regardless of how I feel, to address why I felt angry and collaborate on future improvement, IS in its very nature more powerful than any lesson I could consciously teach.

It is my responsibility to behave respectfully in anger, to avoid damaging words, and to respect another person's body. 

Each time anger arises, "hello anger" again I say; experiencing it with my children however authentically it comes out, learning gradually to describe it without threat or blame or condescension.  Responses like: "I'm going to spank you" or "you did this out of spite" or "you are a bad child" are learned reactions grounded in our own fear.  Be joyous in knowing, that if these reactions are present in your mind, they can be unlearned, if you wish.  Replacing them with phrases like: "I have a need to keep you safe", "I won't let you act that rough", or "I need two minutes of breathing, sit with me if you'd like".  

What I personally need to sit with is following through with compassion for myself when I have felt frustrated and acted out of anger.  That's not an easy thing to do, it's effectively my punishment for behaving so badly.  However, anger is not bad, and punishment does not have positive lasting consequences, nor is it deserved.  May I be so bold as to set a good example to my kids for extending compassion for ones self in time of error.  How liberating would it be for a child not to loath their harder feelings and accept them with grace, and knowing how to do it because they're copying their mom (and dad) grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, or cousin who can do that too.

Compassion is thinking to ones self or vocalizing:  I am a passionate human being, with sovereignty of thought, and that sometimes includes anger.  May I be aware of ideas that improve the emergence of my anger throughout my lifetime.  May I remove the obstacles in my mind such as false beliefs, resistance, and misunderstanding, which prompt the Anger to arise.  "Hopefully each time it occurs, we learn something that makes it less likely to happen again." -MJ Kabat-Zinn

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