About love and loving…

Today I want to talk about love. Not the love that drowns us that envelopes us in a haze, that is so beautiful that we can’t bear a moment without it, that makes our hearts melt in sweetness but the love that is steady and deep and burning like a flame and never stops – not for the winds or the rains. It just keeps burning and getting stronger day by day.

This is the kind of love my 2-year old daughter teaches me. The love that exists when she won’t take a nap and I lose it and yell at her, and she adds – ‘mom still loves you’. And my heart breaks. In that moment, I don’t want to love. But my heart can’t help it. This is the burning of that candle that purges all those dark places inside that I would rather not see, but I don’t have a choice. I would rather believe that I am kind, loving and don’t lose my temper and helpful and will not hurt a soul. But I know the truth – I am capable of the other side. I’m capable of slamming doors, being rough, yelling, and I do hurt others. This acceptance is the deep grief of the human heart when we come to terms with all of ourselves and all that we are truly capable of. Even though I would never hurt my child, in that flash of anger, I can see how violence happens. How if I didn’t stop myself and try my best, my emotions would rule me.

So this idea of having a child, of raising your child, of spending time involves what any close relationship does – a facing of our own shadows and the things about ourselves that we would rather not see. IN usual relationships we sometimes make the choice to not go through, to want out. But in a parent – child relationship that is often not and cannot be our choice, and we know that in our hearts. So we agree to go through this journey, of walking through fire sometimes – of losing it and finding it and forgiveness and learning to trust in our own capacities to ride the storms. The storms are inevitable, and they do pass. It’s our choice what we allow them to teach us, and our children.

And the storms always leave behind something – trees broken, hearts broken. This is the way to compassion – this picking up the pieces and putting them together and mending the bridges. Apologies are difficult. They require us to face the facts and the consequences and find ourselves worthy of love and forgiveness. When I say sorry to my daughter, the person I’m really asking for forgiveness from is myself. My daughter readily forgives. She has forgotten the episode and moved on. It is me who is still lingering in that moment that I was who I did not want to be.

And then I make the next choice – to try harder, to be more patient, and to take better care of myself so I don’t reach that place of desperation again. And I make the choice to let go of the guilt, the consuming guilt and start over again. This is now a new moment. The sun is shining. Lets go ride our bikes together, I say. My daughter skips downstairs and runs to put on her helmet. My heart still hurts, but this is a new moment. I’m here now.

With Love, S.


All izzzz well…

It is a quiet Fall morning, the mists still clinging on to the trees, the air cool and crisp, and the birds winding down for their morning nap. It is a perfect morning to reminisce on the last couple of weeks, on my dance with sickness and health, suffering and freedom.

What began as a cold for our daughter Anjali (fondly we call her Gudiya, meaning Doll) now 13 months old, became an infection of some kind with fever and a rash. Initially, misdiagnosed as ear infection, and then found to be a peri-orbital type infection, she was treated with antibiotics, and seemed on the rocky road to recovery. That was until she had an allergic reaction to the drugs and had to be switched to a third set of antibiotics. Thankfully, they worked. She started to regain her strength and started eating properly again. The antibiotics still meant diarrhea, diaper rash, and discomfort, especially in taking the meds.

I was the epitome of graceful, patient, steady and loving Mom. That lasted for exactly 3 days. And then I was just plain tired, anxious, whining Mom, caught in between trying to be loving and present, and trying to escape far far away. There is something so helpless about seeing a baby in pain and knowing there is nothing you can do that just tugs at your heart, that is the most difficult thing I have ever had to face.

One morning, I gave her the antibiotics, and she cried non-stop for half hour. At the end of it, I started sobbing myself. I felt terrible – here she was, a baby crying because she was in discomfort and the medicine sucked and her tummy probably hurt. And here I was, an adult crying, because I felt helpless. I felt like such a loser. But it gave me perspective.

This was a difficult situtation to be in. Could I be kind? Could I be compassionate as much to myself, and Abhi, as to Anjali? That perfect Mom that I had in my head, who is forever loving and patient and cheerful in the midst of sickness and who doesn’t ever complain or need time out…was probably a myth. Maybe all Moms are like me. Imperfect and wanting to do the best, and sometimes just caught in the pull between giving others and giving themselves.

A turning point came at about 5.30 on a Saturday evening. I had been home all day with gudiya now for nearly a week. Abhi had been there whenever he could, equally worried and waking early each morning to tend to Gudiya. But when she was sick, Mama was the most wanted. I was exhausted and depleted and near the end of my rope. I had the good sense to ask Abhi if I could go for a walk. When I finally made it out of the door, I was mad that it had taken as long as it did, and it was nearly dark and it had started drizzling. It didn’t matter. I pulled up my hoodie and started walking. I wanted to keep on walking, my thoughts plummeting me, the drama in my head louder than the rain outside, saying over and over again, ‘I wish…I wish… I wish…’ I kept coming back to my breath, to my feet, I kept sending loving-kindness to my family and practicing gratitude. Finally, the storm inside quieted. I opened my hoodie – and in that moment, I could hear the breeze, the trees, the rain and the silence. I could feel the cool air on my face, the rhythm of my walking, the trees that stood rooted, a testament to my suffering. In that moment was my freedom. The kind that comes from listening and being with your own discomfort so that you can be there for others. That half hour brought me the peace I had so missed.

Thank Goddess Anjali is feeling better. The course of antibiotics is over. She walked outside our home last evening, so excited that she could walk outside. She pointed to the doggie and said bow bow. She waved her arms ecstatically. She smiled. And she looked well.

Everything passes…

May all beings be free from suffering.

With love, Shuba.