Monday, January 7, 2008

Zen and the art of spaghetti sauce

The past few weeks have been exceedingly stressful for me. My determination to enjoy the holidays no matter what notwithstanding, I've had to deal with not only the minor annoyances that the season always brings, but several things that have sent me reeling.

One of these events was taking my son to get evaluated for Non-verbal Learning Disorder (NLD), putting him through several weeks of testing, and then being told that the reason he displays these symptoms is not because he has a neurological disorder, but because I've done such a shitty job homeschooling him. Yeah -- his inability to write or tie his shoes, his tendency to take things literally, etc are, apparently, all my fault. And the cure, of course? Enroll him in the local public school.

If that doesn't make someone feel like a terrible parent, what will?

Then, of course, there was the negative pregnancy test, finding out I have to have surgery, not getting my father's Xmas gift until January 5th (a word of advice: NEVER order anything from!), and best of all, old addictive behaviors rearing their ugly head. If there was an award for failure, I think I would win it this year.

I could really use some inner peace.

I've been trying for a long time now to practice meditation, but I always wind up failing. My brain doesn't seem to be wired for it; I can't shut off my thoughts. I've read several books and websites to try and get some insight into the practice, but I always wind up frustrated... and then, of course, I quit trying, which isn't conducive to anything except feeling like a failure, yet again.

Then there's mindfulness, which is sort of a meditative state in which you completely focus on the present moment and the task at hand. I have to admit I'm not very good at this, either -- my mind races at about a billion miles per second and I tend not to experience things while they're happening because my mind is someplace else. However, I do have one task that I am able to do mindfully. Don't laugh -- it's making spaghetti sauce.

Making spaghetti sauce engages all my senses and allows my mind to quiet itself. As I peel and mince the garlic, open the cans of tomatoes, add the spices, I am able to be fully focused on what I'm doing. I don't know why spaghetti sauce does this for me, but I'm grateful that it does. (And I think it's probably not a coincidence that I make a pretty kick-ass sauce.)

Needless to say, I try and make spaghetti pretty often. I may not be a Zen master yet, I may be a terrible parent, I may still be a stressed-out spazz, but at least I have this...



Misty said...

Perhaps this is the true motivation behind all of the really successful little whole-in-the-wall Italian stores??? Hmmm....

Hang in there Maggie! I am all about the new year-fresh start thing... You are an amazing person. I know that doesn't help this issue at hand, but it never hurts to be reminded...

And yeah, Dec. 1 I ordered two gifts from Chronicle books. I still don't have them. Nice right?

bloodthirsty~girl said...

i don't believe for one minute that you've done a bad job homeschooling. it's always a work in progress. we take things as they come and work to get through them. and i certainly don't think that sticking him in public school is the answer.

i know what you mean (sort of) with the spaghetti sauce. for me, chopping and cleaning veggies is so relaxing! bob thinks i'm nuts, but i love doing it.

hang in there honey, things will look up.

Jenn said...

I also find it hard to believe that you have done a bad job teaching your child.

Cooking and baking always relax your sauce recipe secret, or would you share?

Lisa L. Danford said...

How in da he77 is sending him to school to be bullied and forced into 'their' standards going to help him more than the love of his own Mother?

You're not a failure, my love. Life--and the idiots we're surrounded by--just does its best to make us feel that way sometimes.

My love is with you...

Maggie said...

Jenn -- good idea! I will post the recipe in an upcoming blog!

nashvilletubes said...

1.I have trouble with regular style meditation myself. I do not use my think-mind to meditate with. I found this advantageous though, because i already live in the underzone meditation is meant to take one into. Maybe you are already there?
2. Home-schooling is far better than sheep-schooling, I swear! My son is in grade 12, and has also learned about LIFE instead of being crammed with lists of facts! (Do you wanna teach your kid to bow to society or to be a happy human????)
3. I recco reading the Acariya Mun bio. It may sound boring, but i swear it knocked aside a few blocks for me and gave me a new perspective from which i could advance.
4. You could try to follow your creative zone inwards to the origin, rather than bothering to deal with your outside think-mind... that is what worked for me, anyways!

Anne said...

Don't let ANYBODY make you feel you're not an excellent mother! With the strong desire and clear intention with which you went into motherhood, there's no way you couldn't be.

You are fabulous, and your son is fabulous - together you'll work it all out!