Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WHY NOT indeed?

"WHY NOT do what makes you happy?"

--The Universe to me in a meditation

I have been getting a lot of signs lately that it is essential for me to spend time in meditation right now. And I have been doing that and benefiting from it I know. But I had no idea just how much I needed it until this afternoon.

We are going through some stuff right now. (I think most people are as we enter fall and head towards 2012...) My older son isn't feeling well. Our house is a mess. Family members are experiencing hard times, etc., etc.

One of the things that is happening is that my older son has been having stomach aches since this summer. They were sporadic then, but are coming on more and more often lately. Every day in fact. Just in time to go to school.

Every morning I think, "This is it. This is the day he is going to go back to school." I wake him up, set out some clothes, make breakfast....while he just lies there and moans.

We have seen doctors, with the only diagnosis being "stress." We have talked to the school counselor, who suggested breathing exercises, which seemed to help for awhile. We have had some tests. Are thinking about more and are seeing an ND next week. But the thing is, I am just not sure I want him to go back to this school.

For the past four years it has been great and I have loved being a part of this community. Lately though, it just doesn't seem to fit.

There is more pressure in fourth grade. Do well. Be neat. Work hard.

None of those things are bad in and of themselves, but there is a general feeling of pressure, pressure, pressure that makes me uncomfortable. Other parents are telling tales of crying over homework. Anger and frustration at all the work that has to be done each night. Crumpling up papers. Breaking pencils.

They are in FOURTH grade.

Am I the only one who thinks this is excessive?

Obviously I'm not. Almost a year ago I wrote about the movie Race to Nowhere, in which it is documented how stressed out our current performance-based education system is making kids. One of the subjects in the movie is a third grader with stomach aches (!).

As I got ready to go pick up my second grader this afternoon (who is doing great by the way and having a terrific year) I felt overwhelmed at having to deal with going to school, having to talk about how things are going, having to answer the question: Did he go to school today?

So I did the only thing I could think of. I took to the floor with my blankie and my meditation CD and started to breathe.

I only had ten minutes, but after just a few I started to feel better. It's okay. I can do this. It's going to be okay.

The thing is, the real conflict is within myself. A former "good girl" who always followed the rules and learned early on that unless you've lost a limb you go to school, I am really struggling with being in this in between place with my son's attendance.

I am sure the office staff is two seconds away from calling the truant officer to come and arrest me. I am sure the teachers think I am the worst mom in the world and a total wussy slacker who doesn't make her son "buck up" and get back to school.

And the thing is: they may be right.

I don't know if my son is really sick or just trying it on, but just the fact that he is trying it on so hard (if he is) tells me something is wrong. He has always liked school. Loved his friends. And never worked me for a day off when he wasn't legitimately sick. So even if it is "just" stress, that's enough for me. Because it has changed my son into someone that I don't recognize. Someone that scares me.

So I'm lying there meditating, thinking about all of this and about how happy my son is at home and how happy he would be if I decided to home school him, even for a little while.

And then I started to "should" myself about that: Maybe you "should" be tougher on him, maybe he "should" be forced to suck it up, maybe/"should," maybe/"should," maybe/"should."

And THEN, from somewhere deep inside, that still, small voice that knows the truth spoke to me and said, "Why NOT do what makes you happy?"

And THEN I started to laugh. And cry.

Why NOT? Why not let our children be happy? Why not do what feels right instead of forcing them to do what feels wrong? WHY NOT do what makes him happy?

There is so much information out there about what makes a good parent and what makes for a good education and what makes for a successful person, but rarely does it have anything to do with what makes us happy. Yet, at the end of the day (and at the end of our lives) would we rather have been happy or smart? Happy or successful? Happy or a good rule follower?

Life, liberty and the pursuit of HAPPYness. That's what it's all about. That's what it's always been about. What makes you happy? What makes your heart sing? What makes you feel free and alive?

Do that. WHY NOT?

A couple of Post Scripts today:

1) To see a preview of the movie "Race to Nowhere, "click the arrow to view


2) Today is my 2nd Blogaversary! Happy Blogaversary to Me! Happy Blogaversary to Me! Happy Blogaversary Dear Refrigerator Oracle! Happy Blogaversary to Me! 

May you have a HAPPY, HAPPY day!

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