Sunday, May 22, 2011

Instant Rage

It's Sunday late morning and rather than sitting peacefully at church like most families in southern Orange County I just flew into a rage.
My toddler ran screaming after me down the hallway as I went to fix something for lunch and it occurred to me that my husband is doing nothing and POOF! Instant rage.
I start yelling about how We Need To Eat ( I wonder would they all just starve if I didn't cook?? I am so annoyed by my husband's lack of initiative around meal times. Totally annoyed) and WHY did he throw all the leftovers into one bowl??? The rice, chicken and brussles sprouts are all a mixed up mushy mess and the kids will NEVER eat them this way. I am irate with my husband. How hard is it to separate the leftovers???

Then Bronson is pulling on my legs and whining some more. I have had it with him too. At two and a half and still nursing I am over my threshold for tolerance. Sometimes it is perfect and fine, a bonding moment in the middle of the night...but now, when I am trying to make lunch, it's just downright annoying. I need to have a life, to not be tugged at, to care for myself and to have some moments of quiet time when I am not being demanded of, whined at, pulled at, crawled on, boogered on, talked back to, tattled to, pleaded to for food, screamed at for attention and actually hit by my toddler when he is mad. Enough is enough!
I holler at my husband for not thinking about Bronson's needs. He is two year old, who has been sitting around all morning with his brothers,awake for nearly five hours now, and simply watching TV, or watching his brothers play DS games or playing XBox is insane. A two year does not have the attention span or interest in those activities like an eight or six year old. So out of total boredom he comes whining after me for some sort of attention and to latch on like a tick on a dog. I have had it.
Plus how much is enough? Is ANYONE monitoring the amount of time the children spend in front of theses electronic boxes? Even though I bought a timer??? Obviously NOT! Obviously I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING!!!!

Pretty soon I am slamming pots on the stove, resentfully cooking this mush of a leftover lunch, grabbing a bowl for myself and heading to the office to eat alone because I can't stand the thought of sitting and digesting food in front of my husband.I eat with a clenched stomach. I hate to admit the mushy mess actually tastes better than my original dish. Damn him. My shame at my rage is setting in and I continue to hide from him and my children and myself. Except I am still with myself. When I sit dowm to write something inspiring about parenting, I feel like a total fraud. I want to blame him now for my lack of ability to write authentically. Not very Zen.

Or actually, exactly Zen...the identity I mean, not the philosophy. I do this. This is what I do. I don't plan my Sunday, or I do but then I am not aware of it or I don't communicate it with my husband with real times and simple requests like " Sweetie, Please take the boys to the park by ten AM". No... and I lay around, watch mindless TV, have breakfast in bed because my husband is cool like that ( see he did do something...) and let my son nurse whenever he wants because he is so ridiculously attached...but until I am just sore and irritated.

Then, when it suddenly seems like we should all be doing something different, suddenly, like one second it's fine to be playing video games and the next second it's been waaaaay too long...suddenly, because that switch has been flicked by Judge Zen in my brain, the sentencing ensues. The gavel comes down and everyone is condemned to a session of yelling, accusing, demanding, commanding, threats and punishments. I exert my control and everyone pays. And I am justified because I ( Capital of capital I's) DO EVERYTHING. And I am overwhelmed and deserve to blow off steam.
It's horrendous. It's a miracle I am still married. It's a miracle my kids love me anyway.

Why share this? Why write out my very un-Zen like ways of parenting that are definitely not inspiring? One, I am committed to being authentic. Two, I am guessing one or two others do this. Someone might relate. Three, I get out of my system, I work it out and get clarity when I share, and get to create something new.
I don't want to be this way and yet in the moment I see no other way to be. I don't think about it, words are just launching themselves out of my mouth like fighter jets, angrily attacking anyone with earshot.
The magic comes when I do think about it and get present, when I face my part of it. When I can see the pattern and see what is missing that I can put in to have our Sundays afternoons work.

Like.... a plan and a specific time for when the boys go to the park or pool with Daddy. Or food prepared ahead of time and a simple request for my husband to reheat it at a certain time. Asking nicely might help. Putting one of the boys in charge of setting the timer for their video game playing might be a start. Setting rules like our friends where they earn a minute of video game playing for every minute of another activity like playing piano, reading or making art. Or how about I actually stick to my own schedule for writing, making art or girl time? I haven't been to the gym or made art in months.

All this requires that I ( that's another Capital of Capital I's) be responsible...which is exactly what I was raging at my husband for not doing and exactly what I wasn't doing either.
So sorry Sweetie. Please stay married to me. I love you and the kids so much.

Zen Honeycutt

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Giving Up or Choosing

Ben has a sad face. He walks towards the car and it gets sadder and longer the closer he gets. He is holding it in and by the time he gets seated and buckled in the dam breaks.
"Oh Mom, it was a terrible day!"
I ask him why, truly concerned. he hasn't had a terrible day in months.
" Today the teacher showed Lydia's art, Lydia's my best friend and she's a good artist, but Ms.Cline showed her art and not mine and she showed the whole class and she's a better artist that I am!!!"
Big crocodile tears are rolling and plopping onto his sweatshirt.
"I used to be the best artist and now I'm not and the teacher never shows my art so I'm not going to be an artist anymore!!!'
It's decisive. He is killing off his artistic expression. "The word decide is from the family pesticide, homicide, insecticide," (to quote leaders from Landmark, a breakthrough personal training and development program),"it kills off something in your life. It is very different from a choice, which is to choose freely after consideration."
Ben was killing something off in his life. It was very difficult for me not to make that wrong, to make him wrong. But I knew making him wrong about that would just have him hold onto his new decision with more vigor than ever before. I just needed to be with it.
"Wow, you are really sad." I said, running my hand over his shiny hair. " Yeah." he said and went onto describe in further detail how he is going to stop making art and instead just spend time with his family. Compassionate, but still limiting. Okay.

I listened while driving until he was completely emptied out, then I pulled the car over.
"Ben can I tell you a story?" He nodded.
"When I was a girl, I took a dance class with my sister Chi. Jazz. We had black outfits with fringe on the arms, we practiced for three months. Then we had a dance recital. Chi was shorter so she was in the front row. I was taller so I was in the back. I was nervous. I really wanted to do it right. At the end of the dance our father came up and said " Wow, Chi what a nice big smile you had, you look like you really enjoyed it!" Then he looked at me and said " Zen, where was your smile?"
In that moment I made up that Chi was a better dancer than I was, that dance was " her thing" and I shouldn't dance. So I didn't. For a long time. I missed out on alot of fun.
Then, when I lived on my own in New York City, I met your Daddy and we took dance lessons together, had a lot of fun and fell in love. I took a chance by dancing again. If I hadn't taken that chance then Daddy and I wouldn't have gotten married and you wouldn't be alive today."
Ben said " Well, that's what I am going to do then, not do art for a long time."
I told him that the point was that I could have been having fun all those years and dancing anyway, it doesn't matter about anyone else. He can do whatever he wants, and he can always change his mind and do art again, today even, either way it's his choice...
He soon, sighed, nodded his head, changed his mind and said he chose to do art again.

As we walked into our home he sighed and said " Thanks for telling me that story Mom, You know, parents are useful. They have been kids and they know stuff." I felt so touched by his simple wisdom and acknowledgement. Oh Thank God, I thought, my child does listen a little bit and does learn a little bit from my experience.

The next day, he came home, beaming, that his teacher had shown his art at the front of the class, shining, happy and still best friends with Lydia. He said he learned from what she did and the whole class learned from what he did. That's my boy!

Zen Honeycutt

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Just" a Mom

On Mother's Day I find it fitting to come out. As "Just" a Mom.
Yeah, Yeah. I know the connotation is one of condenscention. "Just" as if that is all there is, there is something better and I am "just" sitting in a lounge chair by the pool watching my kids lay on floaties, reading books like little angels,or like there is nothing else that I could be doing, I am good for nothing except being a mom, I am put out, tired, overwhelmed, so that's allI can handle... "Just" like people should feel sorry for me or something.

My ego wants to scream out...but I am not JUST a Mom! I have been a Mompreneur for almost six years, creating a gorgeous product line and company called "Zen's Purple Garden"!
I am a writer too, a wife and I am a trained artist and designer...

Yes. All past experiences. All things I did in the past that need not define my future. Every moment I have a choice. Every moment. I am choosing to be presnt with my kids.
Just because two people are married doens't mean the person has to come home to you at night, and you don't have to be there waiting for them. Every day is a choice, every moment is a choice.
So often I choose to do two or three things at once, be a Mompreneur of a company, start a Non Profit, raise two children, be pregnant and create a Green Earth Festival. SUPER Mom it. Somewhere in there my kids and husband hope for the crumbs of me that are left over.

We Moms do that, we multi task on some many levels that we forget where we started, what our intention was, or where we put our keys and then wonder why we are exhausted at three in the afternoon. We don't leave any room to JUST be a Mom.
To focus, to be present, to be a Mom and only a Mom, is such an empowering place to come from, such a generous gift to give our children, I choose JUST being a Mom and I am excited by the possibilities of what we are going to create.
Yes, I will continue to do Zen's Purple Garden when it works for our family, and eventually, when I cause completion with integrity, I will stop. I don't have a feeling of sorrow or failure about that. I am choosing a new focus.
I will continue to write as my creative self expression, and when I DO those things I will JUST do those things. And my writing is in complete alignment with my being a Mom, in fact my Just being a Mom inspires and feeds my writing. I may home school, which will be tremendously inspiring for us and my book. It's all one.

AND who I am being when I do those things and everything else, when I am listening to my child, helping them with their homework, reading to them, and yes occasionally, sitting by the pool...I am JUST a Mom. It is a distinctive shift. It's a big deal. I am not resisting what's happening and thinking that my time would be much better used doing some errand or selling or marketing. I am present, lit up with aliveness, inspired by their energy and love for the world,choosing them, being their Mom, listening, empowering, creating the life of our dreams even when it's not going the way we wanted it to, as Just a Mom, I am creating them to have the power and self expresssion to behave in a way that has them be proud of who they are in the face of any circumstance.

I am JUST their for them, wholly and completely, moment to moment. I am making a singular and complete choice. Empowering. Just. A. Mom.
There is freedom in choosing a singular focus. In fact a Buddhist monk said "The purpose of meditation is not to empty the mind, for nothingness, but a steadfastness of a singular focus."

Zen Honeycutt

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Best Mother's Day Gift EVER

It's Mother's Day tomorrow.
I won't lie. The day is rife with expectations. In my good moments I am just at peace and grateful, loving my kids and husband and I am so glad they are alive.

Most of the time however, the Expectation Monster is clawing at my brain.
I deserve a FABULOUS Mother's day Gosh Darn it!
When my two sons spit, scream and yell, accusing each other of killing gold fish and threatening to kill any future pets, at the Dinner Table, oh Man!, I deserve a gold star the size of the house.

When I run six errands in a day, wipe toxic poo off a squirmy, resistant, butt two to three times a day, and then make meals for five, all without anyone getting sick or injured, oh Man! I deserve a spa vacation.

When I find rotten apples under the car seat, along with stinky socks, someone's lost R2D2 Lego and the missing library book, for God's Sake, I at least deserve a THANK YOU or a pretty diamond bracelet.

When my two year old bangs his metal sippy cup up and down on the coach and then WHACK nails my knee cap with it, oh MAN! I deserve a marching band!

And if you are a Mom, Don't YOU???

The thing is, that I get the reality is that I am probably going to get a handmade card, maybe one with yarn twisted into flowers or hearts that turn into butterflies. I might get little wooden bird houses that Daddy bought at Michael's Crafts and sat with the boys while I was grocery shopping and carefully instructed them how and where to paint it...until they started doing whatever they wanted and he said, what the heck, Go For it! and they did...
What I will probably get is Daddy making breakfast and the boys maybe helping him with the juice cup or a flower on the tray. What I will probably get is Daddy thinking about what would look pretty on the plate for me and the boys adding their extra special touch, all filing in together, all giving me kisses, all in their underwear, fuzzy messy hair, smiling their early morning puffy faced smiles.

What I will get is Daddy thinking like a Mommy for the day, taking care of all the little details,the dishes, the napkins and boys cooperating, and the boys thinking about what will make Mommy happy. More than any diamond or marching band, that will be the best gift of all, because when my husband GETS what attention to detail it takes, what fore planning, what patience and generosity it takes to Be a MOM, then I feel gotten, appreciated and loved.
And when my boys smile their smiles to make me happy, my heart rejoices in the gift they are to me, the best gift ever.

Happy Mother's day to you and your Mother. May your expectations go on vacation and you be present and peaceful with the people who love you so.

Zen Honeycutt

Monday, May 2, 2011

To the Rapture

Is Osama Bin Laden in his rapture? 72 virgins and all that?
As I wake up today to the news that this long hunted enemy of democracy is dead I feel both relief, triumph and darkness at the same time. I do not feel joy. I cannot rejoice in the death of a human life. I can rejoice in perserverance, a stand for freedom and for our brave soliders. But still, killing has taken place.
I wonder though, in the name of Allah, if it was all worth it to Osama and his followers, if his death now actually has him in peace, in his heaven as his religion tells him. In his point of view, he died fighting in the name of his God.

We have visited many places of worship, Buddhist, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic, and in the past two weeks we have taken our children to two religious events where God, Heaven and afterlife have been of much discussion. Not sure how much my children absorbed while they ran around a park at an evangelical service on Easter morning and the minister spoke of Jesus being alive...or last night while they ran in and out of the Hare Krishna Temple in Laguna Beach and saw the devotees chanting, jumping and dancing...but the exposure was fascinating and important to me. It's important to me that my children are exposed to different ways to pray, to be devoted, to feel the rapture of divine connection, here on earth. The differences are vast and enchanting and a crucial part of being a compassionate and vital human being. There is something to my very core that opposes one way, even my way. That's why I try to remain open. There is no one way to get to heaven I believe. Really. Who says? Only us. Only the God that WE say is important, ( nobody makes God mean something to us but us) so in the end, only we say there is one way.
So standing in Adventure, Love and Learning, our family explores those ways.
At the Chapel service on Easter morning in a gorgeous San Juan Capistrano park, we are touched by the community, the welcoming, the attentiveness to children, fun and generosity. What a wonderful gathering of people devoted to the freedom of every person through choosing to believe that Jesus died for us and he is resurrected. I was moved to tears by the people who bravely chose to stand up and go to the front to chose Jesus Christ as their personal savior. I could relate deeply to the choosing of a new life, of being free from past "sins" (a loaded word for me, I detest the make wrong in it...we are simply human and do things that don't work, that's all) and choosing a pathway which has them assured a place in heaven and most importantly, freedom from worry and concern about that here on earth. I rejoice in their choice. I love their courage and connectedness to others. As they drape their arms around each other at the front of the stage, I cry tears of relatedness and relief for them. We all want to be free. They are free.

At the Hare Krishna Temple, sitting on a smooth, cool tile floor, I was fascinated by the presentation of the hundreds or thousands of temples around the world, curious about the words when the chanting began and soothed by the slow movement that began to ripple across the colorful crowd in the incensed temple. I swayed with them, gazing at the sensual blue figures of goddess and gods, manifested from Hare Krishna, a figure much like the Dali Lama who reincarnates over and over again. My eyes feasted on the apples, bananas, oranges and strawberries that decorated the stage, windowsills and alter, like sprinkles in this sacred temple. The woman wore bright saris, dresses, skirts and glowed with femininity. The men mostly wore white, varied between shaved heads or shaggy long hair, and they stood proud, men radiating power, strength and a steadfastness. The groups shifted and I noticed the men were mostly on the left and women mostly on the right. The women swayed, began taking dance steps and the men beat harder on the drums, chanting louder and louder. As the pace progress, hands were raised, smiles beamed across the room, women grasped hands or touched each others shoulders with tenderness and grace. The chanting grew louder, the steps moved faster and the energy built up, a palpable buzz swirling with intoxicating exotic incense and devoted rapture. I felt a stirring and then a wave of emotion, the energy of the room washed over me and I believe I flushed, I felt encompassed and swept up by the devotion and what they call cosmic energy in the room. They chanting and drum beats were so fast they overlapped each other, faster faster faster.My sons held their hands over their ears and needed to leave. I stayed and swayed, smiling with the women, admiring the all-out fever and jumping in the mens side. My heart swelled with admiration that human beings spend time to unabashedly, freely and completely devote themselves to something larger, something unseen, something completely of faith. People want to feel love and devotion. These devotees do.

They will all go to Heaven I believe, and most importantly, through their devotion I believe they are creating Heaven here on earth now. I believe my family will too, no matter our faith, because it's what we believe. Just as Osama, despite his unimaginable acts of violence, because HE believes he was a devoted servant of his God, is in his souls expression of rapture. I want to believe he is in Hell for what he did, but that's where the darkness sets in. I choose the light. He believed what he believed and he has what he believed.
As we continue to explore spirtuality, religion and faith, we are creating our own Heaven on earth. It is Heaven on earth to me to Learn together, to go on Adventures and be fascinated by other human beings, to be enveloped in Love and another's welcoming hands. Heaven.
Thank you to our hosts.
Someday, perhaps, we will choose a "home" for our expression of spiritual connection and host others the way we have been received. We continue the exploration.

Zen Honeycutt