Tired but Happy
January 6, 2010 · Posted in Buddhism/Parenting, Parenting · Permalink

by Bethany Saltman

This morning Thayer and I slept in until 7. Again. We had stayed up late working. Again. Since Azzie is going to sleep later — between 7 and 8 — she is waking up later, thus, so are we. She is so totally in charge. But this morning, in Thayer’s fog, he said he was tired. But happy, he said. Tired, but happy. It was so cute. And it’s so true.

Right now, my Mt. Tremper comrades are in sesshin — a week-long silent meditation retreat. These retreats used to be the cornerstone of my life, not just my “spiritual life” but my life, period. I would like to sit more, no doubt about that, and I wish my altars were cleaner. If wishes were fishes. Something is happening to me. I guess it’s just change. I dreamt last night of one of the monks at the monastery who confided in me that we are a lot alike, that we both struggle with the same things, which in waking life, I have always suspected was true. But in the dream it was so nice to feel that connection, even as I feel so, so far away.

We recently returned from a vacation with my in-laws to the Caribbean. In many ways it was lovely — the sun, the beach, the company, the time away, and in many other ways — the snowstorm, the cancelled flight, the marble floors ripe for cracking baby skulls, the vomiting, the night waking — it was a total nightmare. But the thing that I keep thinking about is the day I came back from my facial (I know, poor me). As readers can easily imagine, we are raising Azzie in a total bubble — no tv or videos, no sugar, organic cheerios, you get the picture. Absurd, I know. And even though it may seem like all I do is blog and obsess and work a bunch of jobs, I actually spend the majority of my time parenting — if not actually hands-on parenting because I am at work or whatever, then thinking about it, conceiving of it, trying to work on it in some way. What is best? How do we deal with X? What comes next, is she happy, is this working, etc. etc. In other words, even when I am not physically with my girl (who, by the way, is now saying MAMA, usually in tandem with a big girlish hug), my eye is always on the ball, and what a lovely ball it is! So you wouldn’t imagine that letting down my guard for a couple hours would matter. Well.

So when I got home from my facial, I walked into the house we were renting and Daddy, Grandma and Grandpa were all so happy, so was Azzie, and why shouldn’t she be?! All chilled out in her high chair with a sippy cup of Gatorade, watching a some bizarre baby video. Cat! Cat! She was saying. My jaw dropped.

The point: NOT the video, NOT the Gatorade. Control. I don’t have any. That’s the point.

That night, Thayer and I sat out by the pool and looked at the stars and I told him that I realized why Daido, our teacher is such a control freak. When you love something so much — the dharma, your baby, your farm animals, whatever — you are the only one who can take care of it. Truly, you are. And yet, the world lives, too. And it finds its way to us. And hopefully we are awake enough — even tired, but happy — to take care of that, too.

This article first appeared in Chronogram Magazine on March 28, 2007.

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