About twelve hours ago while I washed dishes and sipped coffee and got ready for my day, I received a text from the friend my son was visiting. “Nels says, ‘Mama I want you more than anything. You’re the best mama in the world.'”
Loving and demonstrative their entire lives so far, my children have been telling me these things even more often. “You’re the best mama.” “I love you.” “I want you.” “Cuddle me.” The other day in Happy Teriyaki, my daughter tells me as we walk to the loo to wash our hands: “Mom, you’re the most tender person in the world.” And, sadly, I reflexively responded to her lived reality with a cock-block of negatory logic, “No, I’m not.” I recognized my mistake immediately, of course – let’s hope one day my heart can outrun my mind which in turn will outrun my tongue.
I’m glad my children hold me dear. I’ve not been holding myself in the same light. Self-criticism is not a worthwhile practice; after all it is no virtue but rather still staying in the Self, where we suffer much and don’t do others many favors either (I can quite picture what Thich Nhat Hanh means when he calls our condition “the corpse-like state of self-absorption”). And since I grant a great deal of importance to the gift of life, if there’s one thing I think I might look back on and regret, a forerunner in the race would be not giving myself a break. In fact a spiritual mentor recently spoke this phrase when I asked about the experience of Guilt for our past (and present) poor behaviors: “We can only live starting this moment, so maybe let’s give ourselves a break,” spoken softly and punctuated naturally with the most easy and simple and gentle smile.
I’m going through a lot right now so perhaps I can “give myself a break” that I produce few results, for instance the grand event yesterday was taking a walk and getting tacos, or that a few days previous I succeeded in the dubious accomplishment of watching an entire season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in one day (most of the ladies were deserving of the title but frankly I was arsed at the finale – hence my new tattoo JUJUBE 4 EVA!). The sudden change of season to the cold and dark has typically been difficult for me emotionally, and this year seems little different. I’m in my first year of Recovery, and now I have a (possibly) chronic medical condition and face, very shortly, (what occasionally seems like a torturously arbritrary choice to have) surgery.
These things, on top of the rest of Life, might not be a big deal to others. But they are a Big Deal To Me, and at least today I know that matters.
Nels snuggles us in bed while we watch a nature show, some horrible big-toothed fish being dragged out of a river, and suddenly he says, “Gosh!” as if he’s surprised. I look and see he’s holding his underwear, donned only a few minutes ago after his bath, in a ball in his hand, and he’s got his head cocked, posed in a feigned quizzical surprise. Nude and warm under the covers. And I laugh and laugh and laugh.
Children, they’re good for what ails ye. Or at least, me.