In Autobiography of a Yogi, we read the story of little Mukunda, who is more famously known now as Paramahansa Yogananda, the founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship. If you have read the book, you learn that Mukunda’s mother was a simple but extremely powerful woman and loving mother.
His mother felt that from birth, her son had an anointing. She aligned her child-rearing to the guidance of her teacher and knew her son would go and do profound things for all of mankind. On her deathbed, she shared her story with him and planted the seed of faith through her sacred and most cherished amulet. I don’t want to give the story away, so will not retell the story here.
As Mukunda grieves the death of his beloved mother, he is reminded that his mother in this lifetime is just one face of many, many aspects of the perfected, universal love of the Divine Mother culminated in many mothers through the sum of his other lives. With one sentence, Mukunda was awakened to expanded consciousness, the laws of karma and reincarnation and swiftly taught the art of detachment. Although he loved his mother, and she embodied maternal perfection, there is even more to the full reality of the divine mother’s love. Idolized as much as she was, she was just one face of a multi-faceted diamond sparkling in the sun.
Last weekend, my daughter was in a bad biking accident resulting in a dramatic and painful night at the emergency room and a frustrating week at school, hobbling awkwardly and slowly about, traversing the school’s hallways and feeling defeated. I have missed several deadlines taking care of her, my low back throbbing from lifting and carrying more weight than I should to support her, and as her frustration and impatience continue to peak, I am finding myself losing mine in tandem. I feel the heavy sense of cabin fever as I look out the window at the beautiful weather, and dread the call to retrieve her when my phone rings. Meanwhile there are the screams, the tantrums, the resentment she exhibits when pain shoots through her leg or a crutch slips out from under her arm. I get that she’s pissed; she also yearns to run and play outside. I can sympathize; it really must suck for her. But honestly, it sort of sucks for me as well and I wish it didn’t. I wish I had the practiced patience of Mukunda’s mother.
I wish that in those more stressful moments when the meltdown is looming, I could be as focused on the higher meaning of my daughter’s life. But no, I am looking at the pile of dishes, and stressing about the deadlines I know I am about to miss. I do this while helping her in and out of the tub, and packing and repacking the ice trays. It seems like I am not loving and supportive enough because I cannot take the pain away, and am starting to lose my confidence in making it all feel better.
Where’s my magical amulet when despair has reached its peak? Even Ben & Jerry’s isn’t doing the trick.
I wish this week, I could have been less myself as a mother and more like Mukunda’s. I know her life was not easier, although it was probably more simple. As I see the beautiful Mother’s Day images, I cannot help but feel a lot of love for my daughter and gratitude to have this little eighty-pound teacher in my presence. Very real places get stirred up when I think about how lucky I am to have this child put into my life. When my focus wanders from this place, the small and irrelevant details of daily living creep out of scope and I just need to remind myself to take a breath and keep doing the best I can.
But I am a sloppy human, and my back is aching and I just want to go into my room, close the door and meditate. I want silence and to return back to more carefree days when she could walk around and self-care. It’s been a rough week and I probably have another one of two rough ones to go. I acknowledge it’s much harder on her, but I still feel a little selfish, too.
I know we will endure because I can call upon that bigger aspect of maternal love as exemplified through Yogananda’s story-telling. I can also be reminded that this is just one week of hundreds in the course of our lives together; just like one small facet of the many phases of life. We all have our moments; this week is just a less-clearer cut, and lacking clarity. But like Yogananda’s mother, there are many other faces of the mother for me to explore.
There’s the mommy that gets teary-eyed when singing a sentimental song while running my fingers through her hair. There is madre who gets into a giggle contest over some silly humored joke we share. There is mother who does something ‘shocking’ she doesn’t quite yet understand but one day will. There is mama when she falls a scrapes her knee.
I too take on many shapes and forms that collectively become reflections of maternal love, too. Just the very humble human version.
Happy Mother’s Day, for reals.