By Tonia Jones
"The Zen of Being Right"
What a blessed day it was when CJ was born. His first cries, the first time that we looked into each others' eyes as he received nourishment from my breast. I never knew what love at first sight was until that moment. I was so overwhelmed and humbled by the holy gift I had been given as "parent" to this precious being. It was then that I committed to being the best mom I could ever be by making sure I raised him RIGHT.
I was successful at achieving this mighty goal, for a while. CJ was fed, burped, bathed, changed, stimulated, sang to, and it was all done RIGHT. (After all, I had taken 5 yrs. to prepare for his conception and birth, as well as to read all the best parenting books on the market.) My friends and family looked on with admiration in their eyes at what a good parent I was turning out to be. "And my… what a GOOD baby he was!" God, I was miserable. The level of "love" I gave to that child was surpassed by my exhaustion. Taking care of CJ was sucking me dry of energy. Oh my God… I had given birth to a vampire!
Never did I have a moment to myself. I couldn't remember the last time I had a conversation with another adult; at least one that didn't involve comparing the latest developmental stage our children had reached. Every minute was taken up by this little vampire, uh… I mean child. I didn't understand it. I had wanted him with all of my heart and now here I was feeling resentful of his presence. The reality of my situation was not fitting the picture I had held in mind for so many years. You know the one; soft, pastel lighting embracing my child and I as we gazed dreamily into each other's eyes. Him cooing sweetly to the lullaby music playing softly in the background. No, the reality was colic, sleep deprivation, dirty diapers, dirty clothes, dirty house, baby food (yuk!) Barney, and pounds and pounds of post pregnancy weight. Things had NOT turned out the way I had expected them to! What was I doing wrong? After all, I was doing everything right.
Then one day it happened. It was one of those rare occasions that I had allowed myself to do something apart from CJ. I had gone to hear a woman speak about spirituality. I don't remember exactly what the topic was, but she said something about some people preferring to be "right" rather than "happy". That was me! I had gotten so wrapped up in being the right kind of mom that I wasn't leaving any room for happiness. No wonder I was so miserable and disappointed. I had enough self knowledge to know that whenever I was all wrapped up in being right about something, I always ended up out of balance, and here I was confronted with the truth that my righteous rightness was taking away the joy of parenting. And what was I depriving CJ of as a result?
Several years have passed since I gained that insight. I can honestly say that I am NOT the best mom there ever was. I'm sure I don't even come close to it. But ya know what? I sure am a happy one! CJ is pretty darn happy too! He's pretty good at it. The way it seems to me, is that happiness comes from inside of him, just from being himself. He can be in heaven just doing the simplest thing and it all seems to stem from him just being who he is, a spiritual being having a human experience.
I have read in the Bible that Jesus said we must become like little children in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven. I never quite understood what that meant until now, thanks to what I have learned from watching CJ: be in the moment, play and create, ask questions, find joy in simple things, laugh at your humanness, don't force growth, allow it to unfold, trust your inner guidance, love each other with your whole self and love yourself enough to not have to be right all the time. Thank God for our teachers; thank God for our kids.
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