When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. – Lao Tzu
The four fold path teaches that desire is the root of suffering, and that to reach enlightenment, we must remove our attachment to desire. For me, parenthood has been a detachment from the things I wanted so much in the before-time. Long gone are the days of sleeping in until noon and taking off at a moment’s notice to some far off location.
In the moments of temper tantrums and screaming, nostalgia for the good old days runs deep. But these are the moments when I must quiet my mind and be present of such teachings. Because, although the experience is not ideal for me, it is a necessary part of my son’s development and my reactions during it are formative.
So, instead of staying stuck in the “man this sure does suck!” definition of my own experience, I try (but not always succeed) to focus my attention to the ebb and flow of the rising and falling of the emotional arc of the temper tantrum. Because, somehow, if I can stay present, I can sense it’s beginning and end. By reacting steadfastly to the writhing 40-pound gyroscope snotting all over himself and me, my son learns that mommy is here, whether he is angry or happy, sad or chill. And, if I can keep my wits about me and maintain a calm and loving presence, he can come to terms with his emotions on his own, and grow the appreciate a life where he lacks nothing, overflowing with love.