By Debbie Lynn
On my own, with three children, four cats, one dog and a bunny, I would rise before the sun (typically 4 AM) to put pen to page.
It was the only time I had to myself, to purge, to have quiet, and get ready for the day. It was how I survived, and my children were saved from a wild woman gone mad when things got out-of-hand. I penned my frustrations in a somewhat mindful meditation. It was my therapy—my sanity—so I wouldn’t kill one of them.
But back in the early 90’s “things” were always out of hand. The chaos in the house was nothing short of a circus. No matter how much incense I burned, how many yoga classes I attended or how much tea I drank, I would find myself on bended knee taking deep in inhalations to keep peace and peace of mind.
My kids thought I was a loon, but they all knew, without one doubt, that if it wasn’t for “long cleansing breaths” and pen and ink their mom could have a melt down and possibly go bat-shit crazy.
Number one son was always doing his best to balance chairs on top of tables, used creepy voices and GI Joe to terrorize his sisters and loved to booby trap the house. The dog (a German Shepherd) was constantly under foot and he never quite understood he wasn’t a “purse”sized lap dog. The middle child (who coined herself princess at about the age of two) was entering the pre-teen-psycho-alien-invaded-her-body phase. And the youngest? She watched it all wide-eyed, amused and very clingy.
One of my repeated mantras, “Please shoot me now.”
Then there were cats. We had lots of cats—four of them at any given time. Typically black, fat, furry, lazy and well….when the field mice would get in, they would all give the “Hey, what’z up! The food is in the kitchen,” nod to the mice and I was like, “Really? CAT, go get the damn mouse…”
Big sigh. It never worked. We had tiny field mice in the pantry. I thought they were pretty cute.
Last, but not least, there was the bunny—my baby, my sweet fat Snowball. Pooping pellets and hoppin’ around, she was unobtrusive and adorable. She left white tufts of hair lofting around like confetti and yes, it was normal. Yes, that was our everyday Barnum Bailey and Ringling Bros. household. All we needed was an elephant and a tiger to complete the show.
And in the heat of any given moment (“heat” usually attributed to number one son’s mischief) with tears flowing and the he said-she said sibling blaming, dog running amuck, I would try to intervene on the situation. I would take the children aside, and try to bleed serenity into their mind. OM…
I would tell them that it isn’t okay to be the cause of so much mayhem. We would talk about kindness, about feelings and love. But I would watch them as I preached, as the mysterious glaze set in, the one all bored children do so well and then I would hear the infamous words, “Mom, you’re a weirdo.”
Our conversations were nearly impossible as they were interrupted with a million questions—questions that threw me off my game (because children have this great way of diversion and it doesn’t take them long to “figure us out”). But in retrospect, they were brilliant inquiries based on my whacked out versions of life.
They knew how to work me well.
The cool thing about being a parent is: We are, (so we think) the master of our domain, the wisdom keepers (in our ego/minds) and the ones soul-y responsible for inspiring a creative solution in a home turned inside out. But when does the revelation of our mastery and wise words become reality? In the eternal fiery chaotic moment, the answer is: Never—BUT…
Down the road things do change.
20 some years later and none of them saw it coming. All of our “talks” really did penetrate their hearts, minds and souls. It worked, so we were good like that.
When tempers were flaring, drama was building and cartoons were blaring in the woven noise (the fabric of our life), nothing was ever truly resolved on the surface, yet there was an unconditional knowing that our chaos was meant to serve, to heal, to experience all kinds of emotional stuff. We were growing together in loud, soft, out-of-control, silly, crazy daily grind called family.
What I can tell you is holding my breath, my dignity and my rabid tongue paid off.
These children I speak of are now adults—wise, caring, funny and still somewhat chaotic adults. Oh, I am proud.
And that psycho middle child? She has her own child now and I watch the love pour out of her, into her and with her, together it is magic. She always calls to say, “Thank you.” Those two words mean the world.
Now, my oh-so wise “isms” I will hear repeated back to me every now and then. They come out of each one of them, but in their own style and personality. They have learned to process, hold their breath, take a pause and think. They think so they don’t ever have to take back things said in anger, or deal with regret.
I harped on that one a lot.
On their own, three adults—one grandchild, two dogs no cats or bunnies—they are all writing their own stories, infused with my influence and with their take on chaos and love.
I am thankful.
My beautiful children are dealing with life respectively, in kindness, with humor, love and a sappy (not weak) heart that was instilled in them from day one. They know where it comes from, but will not partake in incense, Deepak or OM Shanti OM.
That’s okay. I get it.
Happily ever after? Only in true mayhem and life, does it go full circle.
I think it is good to have at least three rings for your circus.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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