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Love, Love, Love.
Love is all you need.
A Master once was asked by a disciple that if what if the issues they were facing with their child was not getting better by love, the Master replied - 'Try giving higher doses of love'.
Love is the one stop solution to all problems with your child. All questions - of frustration, anger, irritation, behavior issues, adamant behavior, indifference and so on - the one solution to all problems - Love!
Like get real!
The Master who would've come up with this solution probably never had kids, or even if he did have, he may not have been responsible for their bringing up, by being for them every minute of every day.
The Master wouldn't have known that Aha! feeling when the child goes off to school and that Arrrghhhhh! moment when they are back.
I remember the first time my daughter went off to school. I had 3 hours!! Like 3 hours to do whatever I chose to do! 3 hours where I wasn't on a fire fight mode, always ready with diapers, food, toys, books, my own work and a zillion other things to handle! I could relax!!! What a blessing it was!
Then when my daughter returned from school, the mind was still in the relax mode but there was no more time to relax, and there was this great imbalance happening - between what I had wanted to do and what I had to do.
And then of course there started arising frictions! I don't want to all the time do things that I have to do. I want to be able to do things that I love to do and want to do - and those things don't count that which I want to do for my child. (Yes I do love my child to the moon and back - so there are things that I want to do for her and love doing for her...but not 24x7, 365 days a year). So, I started feeling anger.
And then someone says Love!!! Love is the solution to every problem!
It didn't make much sense.
But then in moments of contemplation, when I started thinking of this statement, I could see some form of reality in it. Like wouldn't I always want to be asked to do things nicely and with a lot of love? Wouldn't I want to feel unconditionally loved?
But when it came to putting that into practice with my daughter, there were a million challenges!
So, if I wanted to read my book but my daughter wanted me to spend time with her then, talking nicely and with love to her didn't work.
Or if I wanted her to finish her meal nicely, sitting in one place, and chewing without being reminded to chew; with love; it didn't work either!
Overall, I was going out of my way, to be nice to her and spending all my time with her (as I thought that was what love was), that I had little or no time left for me. This brought in a lot of anger and dissatisfaction with my life, and as a result, the 'love' feeling was fast disappearing.
Then I had a realization. My daughter is my life - but she is not everything in my life. I like to do other things as well, and I need time for it and that its okay to take time out to do these things that I love. I love to work on my mind, body and soul through walks, yoga and mediation. So I decided I will take time out for it. When I started spending 2 hours a day on my walks, meditation and yoga, then I didn't mind spending the next 2-3 hours purely with my daughter.
I made a list of the things I wanted to do in a day. Then I divided it into the things that I can do with my daughter - like cooking, cleaning, laundry etc and the things that I don't want to do with my daughter - like my walk, yoga, meditation and so on. That way, if I had to spend the next 6 hours with my daughter - I could choose to spend half that time by doing work with her helping me, and thereby becoming more responsible and aware of the work load that has to be managed. And the other half by being with her - completely. so in that time we could play games or do some art and craft or dance or jump on the sofa!
It worked wonders and we both had great fun!
As I started to feel more peace in my mind, my heart opened up and I could feel more love.
When I felt more love in my heart, I could give her more love as well.
The activities that I had to do without my daughter were planned at a time when she was asleep or in school.
Now with my daughter being a terrible sleeper, many times I didn't get time to do the things that I wanted to do in her sleep time.
This again brought in a lot of anger and frustration, and though the rest of the hours were happy-happy, but if my me-time was disturbed, I was very upset.
Then someone told me that if my daughter is asking for time when I want to mediate, maybe its God's way of telling me that being joyful at that moment with my daughter is the kind of meditation he wants me to practice that day.
This brought in some peace again.
I began to notice that peace in my mind always brought out love in my heart.
So, peace of mind and love were directly proportional.
And I also noticed that the situations didn't change for me to feel more at peace. The situations were exactly the same, what changed was my attitude to each situation.
Oh! Now I see, I thought.
So if I changed my perception of a situation, then I felt more peace at mind and thereby I also felt more love in my heart!
That made sense. This was something I could easily understand.
Now, I started using this technique for almost every situation where I wasn't 'comfortable'.
Slowly, my mind was at peace most of the time during the day, and that meant I felt more and more love throughout the day.
My heart was expanding!!
For every outburst of my child, I started seeing things from a different angle which brought in more clarity and more peace of mind and thereby more love!
Then my daughter started getting older. And that meant she was spending more time at school. And that in turn meant she met more people, had more friends and learnt a lot of things, which I didn't teach her.
Like throwing tantrums!
Like being adamant.
Like not responding to something I asked.
The angers were flaring once again.
Peace of mind was getting lost once again.
Love was there - but on the verge of getting 'lost'.
I could not see the situation from her side if she wanted to skip school everyday, or not do her homework everyday or not study at all for her tests or not bathe even after 2 days!
I needed to find a balance here.
Some boundaries had to be set - for the good of my daughter.
I noticed that in my overwhelming love for her, where I overlooked all her not-so-good behaviors, I spoiled her.
I could see her becoming rude to others, intolerant of others mistakes, impatient and much more - because she thought she'll be loved nevertheless.
Its true, she is loved nevertheless.
But this is not the kind of behaviors I would want my child to have. I needed her to be a good adult who would be more grateful, patient, gracious and so on.
So I started to impose rules and if those rules were not being followed, (leaving some margin for allowance) there would be some form of a repercussion.
The repercussions were never physical punishments.
Yet, in doing this, the mind was at great unease, thinking that I didn't want to be the kind of mother to impose rules that had repercussions but then I had a realization of a whole new angle to this 'Love Story'.
If I loved my daughter enough, then I had to do this in order for her to grow up to be a responsible, caring, empathetic adult.
She has to learn her boundaries.
One wouldn't go though all this mental turmoil to get their child to behave if they didn't love her? Would they?
So, love, love, love here meant watching my daughter evolve.
Just like a river that flows, my daughter flowed. I had to just watch her flow, and place rocks (somewhere big and somewhere small) in places where, if she went, she would be straying from her path to the mighty ocean or wasting her energies by creating too many tributaries or bringing a flood that could destroy all of life.
This realization again brought great amount of peace to my mind.
And then the love quotient increased again :)
So, its true. The Master who said this - Love is all you need.
Love can be in many forms and all are 'valid', as long as you are honest in the way you show your love.
Let the love come from the depths of your heart to have a truly loving relation with your child and not from the shallowness of ego that says that you are right and your child is wrong and so you take an action based on ego, though it may go under the name of love.
My salutations to the Great Master who made that statement and my deepest gratitude to my daughter for bringing forth these realizations through my life experiences with her.