A long awaited visit to my parents, and we all felt like garbage. My little one hacked all night long, our hearts hurt for her. My ears burned with some kind of infection, my poor husband wasn’t faring much better. He alternated between bringing her to the couch to sleep sitting upright, which relieved her symptoms, and bringing her in-between us in the big bed. We weren’t sleeping at all. Each time we awoke to adjust her, I couldn’t fall back to sleep easily. I was really starting to get annoyed and have thoughts like “I’m going to be so exhausted tomorrow” and “It’s going to be unsafe for me to drive her back home”. It was a long night, we all have them.
This new process is arising for me though, probably motivated my by drive to reduce my medication. When I start to suffer from general human condition stuff, the thought arises, “What do you know that can help you?” After years of spiritual study, I ought to know something that I can translate into my core. After all, spiritual teacher after spiritual teacher after spiritual teacher tells us that there is no need to suffer. The first time the thought arose, “What do I know that can help you?” was during one of my big trigger times, being lost in the car at night.
As I struggled to fall back to sleep, I remembered an exercise from Mindful Motherhood by Cassandra Vitean. She prompts us to examine our experience sense by sense, to bring us into the present moment. I am sure we then do something wonderful with that information, but I can’t remember and I loaned out that delicious little book. In the midst of coming back to the present moment, the thought arose, “You’re suffering because you want to change the situation. Your struggle is because you want something different right now.” It’s the first thing every spiritual teacher teaches: Accept what is.
I wanted to sleep. I wanted little D. to stop coughing. I wanted my husband in bed next to me. I wanted to sleep through the night. Wanting was causing my struggle. There wasn’t anything inherently wrong with the moment… all was quiet, my husband was happy to be cradling her like we did when she was a newborn, and my ears hurt but like, a 3 out of 10. The only thing truly wrong was my desire for things to be different.
When I viscerally understood that, I’d like to say the heavens opens, angels sang, my child was healed, and I was rewarded with a full night of sleep. Nope – everything remained the same – but the struggle associated with it was lifted. So I was awake. OK. So D. was sick – it wouldn’t last forever. So we learned our lesson – we’d give her Benadryl to help her symptoms tomorrow. Everything is temporary, the highs and the lows, and everything is OK when we accept what is. It doesn’t mean we condone what is, only that we stop wishing things were another way.