I’ve been wondering about when people stumble upon this blog whether they presume it’s about the good days (hopefully lots) and the bad days (sometimes too many) of being a mother. They would be right. You take the yin with the yang.
I suspect newcomers to this blog could imagine I write (in brief) about my own good points and (at length about) my bad points as a mother. And they would be right about the long list of motherly mistakes (some rather ugly) I could write about. Where do I start! This blog must belong to a woman with a split personality could well be a logical conclusion. Well maybe.
But more than simply fessing up to my flaws (and perhaps sharing a few strengths) when it comes to parenting, I really want to explore the universal truth that good and bad are not so black and white, that they are just labels we choose to apply to the ebb and flow of life, through ‘good’ and ‘bad’ times. They are value judgements we make about ourselves (bad) and others (worse).
So yes, sometimes I am a ‘good’ mother, and other times, I have to admit, I’m not so ‘good’. Sometimes life goes swimmingly and sometimes I’m backstroking upstream in a muddy river! But in reality nothing truly is good or bad – this is a fundamental lesson of yin-yang.
Many people, parents in particular, will have nodded in agreement to the truism about parenting: ‘The days are long, but the years are short’. Of course the days are all 24 hours and the years are 365 days – it’s all relative. So are our perceptions around good and bad. On those days that feel endless, I may not be the best of mothers. I don’t channel my yin-yang energy as positively as I could – I get frustrated, I yell like a banshee, I want far too much peace – sometimes I want my children to disappear so I can escape the drudgery. The days that often feel shorter are those when I stop to savour the moments – give my children focused attention, take the time to really listen, soothe them with my understanding, turn tears into laughter, share real joy.
‘Good’ days fly, ‘bad’ days drag – ironic isn’t it. Maybe there’s something in the way our perception of time alters with our value judgements of ‘good’ or ‘bad’. There certainly doesn’t seem to be much sense in having short good days and long bad ones!
At the very least we need to take away the ‘or’ we often put between good and bad. Even the use of ‘and’ reinforces the duality. Better to think of taking ‘the good with the bad’ (and conversely ‘the bad with the good’). Better still to just BE in the moment, trying to channel the best of our yin-yang energy into each and every moment, and accepting that sometimes we could BE BETTER.
There is a simplistic (and erroneous) notion that yin is bad and yang is good. But from what I understand, Lao Tzu, as the authoritative ancient sage on all things yin-yang, didn’t go in for such value judgements. Yes yin can be passive and lazy, but yang energy can be aggressive and angry. When yin energy flows positively we devote the time needed for thoughtful reflection. When yang energy flows freely we act with confidence and decisiveness. Both positive yin and yang energies are needed for ‘good’ parenting. When the energies flow freely together (and become yin-yang or positive chi) we can become the best parents, and people, we can BE.
Perhaps the only thing that is truly bad is judgement itself. Acceptance is very good.
If we stop judging ourselves as ‘bad’ I suspect we will become better. And if that flows through to not judging our children either, then perhaps our parenting could become really very ‘good’. Then we might really enjoy those all too short years and savour some special memories! Like Brunswick Heads this week – ahhh – bliss – more to come on that.