Saturday, 29 September 2012

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear: zen and the bad-tempered baby

There’s a saying that goes along the lines of ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear’.

My first daughter – Zen Toddler (or, more accurately, Zen Pre-schooler, these days) – taught me to be brave. I wanted to bestow upon her the belief that she could live the life she wants to live and be the person she wants to be, and I felt that she’d be much more able to accept that as a possibility if she saw me do the same. Hence, a frightening, intuitive leap into freelancing and a  career I’d dreamed of for over twenty years. I doubt I’d ever have had the nerve, if not for her.

I drafted this post sitting upstairs in our Mediterranean holiday home while listening to the (somewhat misnomered) Zen Baby rage angrily against Mr Z. Zen Baby is very angry, very often.

There. I said it.

I’ve avoided saying for a long time, anxious not to swaddle her in a label that she cannot wriggle free from, or to lock her into a self-perpetuating definition. But she’s hard work. This has been a hard year. I had optimistic plans to steer my career in a new direction, get Zen Mummy fully-established, be a more active participant in the natural parenting community, lose the baby weight through yoga and mindful eating, plus a few other creative ventures I’d hoped to develop …

Instead, I’ve got two stone of baby weight left, and too many half-started projects to show for it. Fitting my full-time job around the full-time job of placating not-so-Zen Baby has left me just a shade short of burnt out.    

There could be all sorts of reasons why she’s the way she is: innate temperament, elevated cortisol levels due to my heavy pregnancy workload, a need to battle for my undivided attention in a way that my first-born never had to, hyper-intelligence, a chemical imbalance, demonic possession …. I’ve considered them all.

Still, she is who she is. The unique juxtaposition of my genes and Mr Z’s created this feisty little individual, as tempestuous as her sister is placid. And instead of trying to ‘fix’ her, my choice is to focus on working out what it is she’s here to teach me. To be less reactive, more responsive, maybe? To reduce my ‘to do’ list so that I’m less preoccupied, more present? To mirror back my own temper-tendencies, so that I can acknowledge them, amend them? I don’t know yet.

But there’s a lesson to be learned here, for sure. There has to be. Because otherwise? Otherwise it’s just been a fairly crappy year.  

PS: the flowers at the top of the page are from the garden of our holiday home. No idea what they are. Gorgeous, aren't they?  

1 comment:

  1. I believe you're right about all of this. It's not just a crappy year. Your little teacher is perfect and you're doing everything possible to give her what she needs. And being willing to grow yourself...
    I think you're so wise. I've tried to do what you describe and I know how hard it is.
    All the things you considered might be her "issue" are the things I would have considered.
    I even looked at past life issues for mine. and in the end, no matter how valid anything else might be, you're right, they are here now, as they are and need to be loved and understood.
    You are in for an interesting life and I know it will be full of joy and writing.
    Gotta go... mine is yelling at me to help her calm down.
    Only cure... outside in nature.