January was hard, and before that December was hard, and before that I hardly remember November at all. Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to see how long I can go without yelling at anyone. So far my limit is four days, and as of this morning I think I’m back to zero.
Someone suggested that I find a mantra to help me out when things start feeling too rushed or out of control or both. When I finally did (what for me is) the obvious and opened Start Where You Are by Pema Chödrön, which is based on a series of Tibetan Buddhist slogans, the words I needed leaped out at me right away: Regard all dharmas as dreams.
We went for a walk this morning, but now it is a memory. Every situation is a passing memory. As we live out lives, there is a lot of repetition — so many mornings greeted, so many meals eaten, so many drives to work and drives home, so many times spent with our friends and family, again and again, over and over. All of these situations bring up irritation, lust, anger, sadness, all kinds of things about the people with whom we work or live or stand in line or fight traffic. So much will happen in the same way over and over again. It’s all an excellent opportunity to connect with this sense of each situation being like a memory….
The key is, it’s no big deal. We could all just lighten up. Regard all dharmas as dreams.
So that’s my new mantra: No big deal.
L refuses to put his boots on, so we’re probably going to be late to school. Again. No big deal.
L is yelling that he hates me, that he’s going to hate me forever, that I’m mean and I WANT him to cry, and so on and on and on. OK, I can deal with this.
He’s crying because I took off his mitten so he could scratch an itch and now we have to put his mitten back on again, and it’s so very hard to get his mittens on right, so why did I take his mitten off, because he doesn’t want to have to put it back on again, it’s so very hard … (Goodness this winter has been hard on everyone, the little ones especially.) “We can deal with this,” I tell him. “It’s no fun, and you don’t like it, but it’s gonna be OK. We can deal.”
The mantra helps me deal with whatever’s really going on, because instead of creating a huge drama out of the immediate situation, I am reminding myself that the situation isn’t solid and that this, too, shall pass. Indeed, I’ve noticed that the situations in which I’m more likely to end up yelling — my triggers — are ones that are rich with possibilities for drama. No big deal, I tell myself to cut through the old, negative stories I tend to tell myself about myself, for example about my incompetence (always late, disorganized, etc.).
More often than not, the mantra works — especially when I actually remember to use it. But still, the lice I discovered in L’s hair last week (a more or less inevitable occurrence if you have kids in NYC public schools) just about did me in.
But that, too, is now a memory. In the end, it was no big deal.
Nevertheless, it’s a deal I don’t want to have to go through again, so we bought clippers for the boys’ hair.