Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cranky Little Zen Master

Pumpkin is in the midst of a "sleep regression", which is a fancy way of saying her sleep has gone all wonky and we don't know why. When I am sitting in her room, trying to rock/bounce/beg her back to a deep enough sleep to last when I put her down in her crib, I often think that I should use the time spent holding my mostly asleep baby to meditate. It really is a perfect opportunity: I need to sit still in a dark room without any stimulation (i.e., no books or TV). So far, though, my attempts to "go within" and "follow my breath" are quickly interrupted by thoughts of how much I want Pumpkin to go back to sleep and/or "Farmer in the Dell" running through my head. I keep trying, though, because there is nothing else to do and it would be really swell if I could get to a state of Zen acceptance about my enforced sleeplessness.

Babies make excellent Zen masters. I don't mean this in the sense that the baby has reached some advanced Zen state. I don't think that someone who cries hysterically when her mother leaves the room to go to the bathroom can claim to have mastered the art of acceptance. However, a baby does nudge his or her parents towards learning the art of acceptance. Most of the really annoying parts of parenting, like the sleepless nights and the poop explosions, are not something that the parent can really change. (We may think we can change the sleepless night part, but all we can really do is try to influence the baby into changing it for us.)

I am certainly not the first person to note this. Before Pumpkin was born, I read a book called The Tao of Poop that describes this. I remember thinking it was a cute idea. Now I think it is the secret of happiness for new parents. They may not call it Tao or Zen, but the happy parents are the ones who have learned to enjoy the ride their little bundle of joy takes them on, and not wish that they were on a different ride instead.

Now it is time for me to go to bed. I suspect I will have more opportunities to practice meditating later tonight.

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