As we were driving home last Sunday, I heard a story on NPR about the power of meditation. The guest was a man who had written several books on the topic - including "Mindful Parenting." When the interviewer asked him about children, he talked about the life of a parent being as challenging if not more so than monks who devote their lives to secluded contemplation. He called children "little zen masters" because of the way they constantly challenge us. I sort of drifted off in thought about this, so I didn't hear his follow up (how's that for being mindful?), but my own experience definitely supports his comparison.
They challenge us to live in the moment - allowing us to relive the wonder of each new sight, smell, sound and person. They challenge the limits of our patience (OH how well a 2-year-old can do this), and they challenge our perceptions of ourselves in profound ways.
After the story was over, we stopped at the grocery store and Robbie ran in with Emerson to pick up a few things. I pulled out Fionn to feed him, and then propped him up in my lap to look around. It was dark except for the parking lot lights and raining softly. I focused on being present for this moment, noticing how the water running down the windshield reflected on Fionn so that his face looked like a moving sea. I noticed how clear his violet eyes seemed, how sweet his perfect bow-shaped lips were, how much I loved the soft gurgling and cooing noises he made.
Then Robbie swung open the back door, the overhead light blasted the scene with a harsh yellow light, and a screaming Emerson plopped into his car seat. He was overly-tired and apparently not placated by anything we could offer, so we listened to him scream the rest of the way home and well into the bedtime routine.
Zen masters indeed. Children certainly have the potential to teach and challenge, but I'm afraid that when it comes to my own little Bodhisattvas, I'm no where near Nirvana.