Journal Entry, April 3, 2015:
Why do I lose control? Why am I unable to remain calm when it matters the most? Why do I feel so consumed? My problem isn’t with my husband or my two daughters but, when you put the three of them together they exhaust me, literally drain me of every bit of energy. Is it so difficult to find the balance necessary to feel good, all of us, at the same exact time? In the end, I feel like the flawed one. My need for perfection and order, my need for us to get along and for me to remain serene all the time – all this restraining – makes me less capable of dealing with difficult situations. If I keep telling myself that I can’t take it anymore. If I continue to ask myself when the tug of war will end… if I keep repeating that I don’t want to be treated like a piece of old, rough cord, nobody will ever win. The war will continue and everybody will lose. He pulls, they pull… I get more and more worn and they get burn marks.
After the incident (with Kenia and the ant.. see part one), everyone went their separate ways for a while. The girls played on the rocks and hopped from one stone to another. Andrea pretended to read his book. I laid back and looked up praying for a sign. I closed my eyes. I gave a deep breath. I calmed myself down. Serenity Now.
Then, I reopened my eyes and there it was. My family SOS unveiled itself in the form of the crooked tree providing me shade and relief overhead.
That tree, it was the most beautiful thing, completely crooked and uneven and twisted!’
This tree spoke to me. Its imperfect beauty right there- offering me protection and guidance and wisdom… and making me rethink about my unrealistic idea of perfection…
A mountain isn’t the same on all sides. It isn’t perfect and yet it is. Isn’t it the imperfection that makes it unique? Compare a perfectly paved highway to the curves of a country road with its winds and bends, holes and bumpiness livening up the drive. A wrinkly elephant, a giraffe’s neck, baby fat: aren’t they all just perfect? A bird doesn’t get frustrated when he makes a mistake, if he loses a stick that he is using to build his nest. So, why is it so difficult to see this same beauty in our ourselves? Why is it so difficult for us to accept our family’s flaws and errors, our humanness? Who taught Me this? Who conditioned Me?
Perfection is a manmade invention. Man, not nature, builds roads and skyscrapers and bridges. They exist in nature no more than our ideas of the perfectly sculpted body or the perfectly built house, the perfectly regular life, monotonous and full of its routines, or the image of the perfect family and all of our perfectly constructed problems. Nature is spontaneous and irregular and yet when left untouched it manages to always finds its equilibrium, its Middle Place. Wouldn’t the world be so much better if we allowed the irregularities in our lives to mirror the irregularities in nature ?
Ironically, it is this desire to make everything perfect that cripples us and distorts our natural instinct towards acceptance. Our obsession with order and perfection is responsible for all the chaos in our minds. I want to learn to celebrate my crookedness, every twist, curve and crack of it! I want to stop seeing my family’s beautiful, imperfect parts as wrong. I want to stop trying to maintain a problem free family, thinking of US as something to be solved. I want to learn to see our irregularities as unique – as unique as the chips and cracks on an old, wooden shutter- creating character, nothing broken or needing to be fixed.
How can I learn to welcome our ‘deformities’: cracks, bumps, wrinkled parts and all, and teach my family to do the same?
How can I guide us back to balance, our Middle Place?
As in any average family, most days are filled with some sort of catastrophe or another. Good intentions in the morning inevitably lead to bickering by nightfall. It was often frustrating to me. With all our efforts to create a relaxed environment and unconventional lifestyle, and with all our emphasis on communication and gratitude, it was discouraging for me to see that our family fails as much as any other. It aggravated me when our nasty sides came out to play evil tricks on us, when our flaws seeped out and tainted the outside world, whenever we would lay all our imperfections out on the table for everyone to see, never able to iron out all the wrinkles. Most of all, I disappointed myself every time that I lost it. But, now I am able to see clearer. I think about my tree and it helps me to accept us better. I remind myself that if I let go of my need for balance, balance will eventually find me. Our free family is not immune from family dilemmas. We need to get through the day like any other family. Our lifestyle, with all our moments of intimate coexistence with one another certainly can’t be any easier than a family with all the ‘extra comforts’. Taking it from another perspective and looking at it with the same eyes in which I look at the wonderful imperfection of my tree, I can see that accepting the inevitability of chaos actually releases us from my need for us to be perfect. Understanding our unique beauty, even when we aren’t being our best, I can see our imperfections for what they are, as a part of our entire story. Next time instead of pushing, I can embrace the problem and invite it to do its worst. I can see that we don’t need to be fixed. We are not a problem to solve. We are not cracked. We are not broken. We are a real family with good moments and also, all those other moments that you aren’t likely to find in our photo albums. It is these other moments that get us from one snapshot to another. We no longer need to beat ourselves up over a bad day. We can enjoy the serenity and we can accept the insanity.
Journal Entry: April 26, 2015
It is late at night. The girls have played all day. We have finished school projects. They have been fed with all their favorite foods. They have been bathed and pampered. It is bedtime and we are tired. If the ugly monster would hide himself for just a few more minutes, then we would all be safely tucked into bed and ready for a good night’s sleep. But, the ugly monster is just dying to come out and test the waters, test our patience, test our family balance once again. On any night, any one of us can turn into that ugly monster. Tonight it is 7 year old Havana’s turn. She won’t stop talking. She won’t stop moving. Andrea is already asleep and we all know from experience that if he gets woken up, he will be annoyed and may not be able to fall asleep again. I warn Havana once. Then twice. I feel the nervousness building up. Kenia too has fallen asleep. Andrea tosses and turns. I am so worried that Havana is going to wake him up like so many before. This is the moment when I would normally lose it. Then, I pause and I remember the tree – my imperfect beauty, and my crazy, fun-loving daughter. It reminds me that it is ok to be crooked. I need not resist Havana’s ‘flawed’ behavior. Instead, I accept. I allow my need for perfection to flow off. I hug Havana to me. I tell her she is perfect and how lucky I am to have her. We fall asleep arm in arm. The night is saved. This time someone was able to answer our call for SOS. Tonight, that person was me.
Another normal morning. I am meditating my way to calmness when Kenia asks me, in her ‘mommy-is-doing yoga’ voice, to pass her the nail clippers (urgent, no?). This time, my head instinctively tilts upwards. I can see the heavenliness of it all. I think about my tree and see my family for who we really are; dreaming of what we will become as we continue to make mistakes, mend the wounds and search for balance. In a family like mine living in such tiny quarters, I wonder what all my searching is really about when this craziness is perfection and for now, perfection in the life of this free family, and particularly for this free family mama is more about accepting – for as long as it lasts – all this divinely magical Insanity now…
Perhaps later on, I will even encounter a little bit of serenity.
Here’s to INSANITY RIGHT NOW, SERENITY LATER’!
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