Sunday, November 10, 2019

Laughing Through the Flames Together

Parenting is a lot of things. It’s an honor, it’s a blessing, it’s a privilege and it’s also a job. Parenthood can either be the most joyous time of your life or a living hell from which there is no escape. Honestly, even though we are encouraged and expected to “cherish every moment” the hard truth is that parenting is often both. Parenthood is the hardest job anyone will ever have...except for maybe that guy that gets his heart ripped out by Mola Ram and is lowered down into the firey pit on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. They aren’t without their similarities, anyway: High pressure. Sacrifice. Rip your heart out. In a cage descending into fire. Very hot. It burns!  

Okay, it’s not all that bad but it helps at times to keep things as light as possible and to not take it too seriously...even though you need to because you are single-handedly making choices that are in part forming your beloved children’s personalities that they will then be at the mercy of forever...and even though they will go forth with these personalities into the world either to make it or break it. Kiiind of totally a huge deal. But don’t worry. No pressure. “Kali maa shakti de!!” 

What could be harder than parenting? Single-parenting, obviously, would take about a thousand cakes on that one. But actually sometimes, albeit to a much lesser degree, it can also be co-parenting. Parenting is hard in general to wrap your will around but meeting another person on the same page who has their own preconceived notions of what parenting is or should be and staying on the same page when it comes to your beliefs on raising children and consistently standing by said beliefs in the face of distraction and frustration…two different heads of the same snarling beast and they both chew your face off. My husband and I can agree that this is often really shitty. Call a spade a spade. We both can also agree, however, that it is the best thing to ever happen to us so where do we meet in the middle of this? That’s the million dollar question. That’s also where the continual relationship work resides. It’s no laughing matter...except for when it is. 

This past weekend my husband and I were jokingly talking about our day, and he had an errand to run. I had the baby on the boob and the other two were being their loud and annoying selves because yes, kids are often loud and annoying no matter how many times you post their pictures on social media decreeing them your angels and your everything. I said, “You guys should go with your father,” giving him an eye and a Cheshire Cat beam. We knew I was mostly joking. His face visibly sunk in an exaggeration of protest because everyone knows it takes twice as long to do any errand with kids in tow, and he said, in a wailing womanly voice: “You haate me!” We laughed. Humor is often your saving grace. It’s also wonderful when our daughter chalks up everything that goes over her head to “adult comedy” as she calls it. We’re not entirely proud but this is where we find ourselves. Parents make jokes because you either laugh or you’ll cry. 

Later that day, after earlier having discussed how his truck has gotten him over 100,000 miles, he said how he had to go out to work on it for awhile. I teasingly accuse him: 

“You know, you’re truck hasn’t needed anything big but you SURE do work on it a lot? What are you sabotaging shit just to get out there and get away from us? ‘OOoh NOOOOoOOO my BRAKE line broke, I better get out there and FIX that today for sure!!’ Is that how it is? ...’Cause that’s what I’d be doing.”

Again, we laughed. Humor through parenthood is like saying that the knife wound in your side kinda looks like a face. It’s simultaneously both denial and complete and total acceptance. We started doing impressions of him taking out his brake lines and other truck parts because they really did go out recently and it does seem he is perpetually working on his truck during his brief time at home. It’s seemingly never ending; duties and projects drag on into a balmy eternity. Everything moves like chilled molasses because there is never enough time in a weekend. It’s funny because the poor guy is actually out there as I write this working on it again. This weekend it’s universal joints. Lucky bastard. It’s funny because it’s not funny. At least we have humor. 

I think if you can laugh together you have a lot to work with. If you can’t make each other laugh, then it’s going to be a hard road for you because it can get a tad rocky and you’re going to feel every bump and stone. If you’re laughing you kinda just roll over the top of some of them and it doesn’t seem like such a bumpy ride even if your shocks are shot. Who you have as a co-pilot traveling with you as your partner in crime on the road of parenthood matters a lot. It helps if you get along with your celly. Your partner ultimately helps to determine how bumpy the ride will be and even when you have a good one the struggle is still real. Parenthood is where relationships go to train for the UFC; it will either make your marriage stronger or take it down blow by blow. 

That poor bastard in the basket on Indiana Jones didn't survive the destructive flames in the pit. He evaporated. Kali needed her sacrifice. It all seems so gruesome. We can just say he represents your egoic parts that need to surrender to the sacrifice. In Hinduism, Kali is the goddess of death and destruction. In her earlier depictions she is often a crone with red eyes, holding weapons and severed heads, with black skin and protruding tongue, a real bad bitch. Westerners generally view her as evil because of her form and requirements of destruction and human sacrifice. But in her complexity, she is a dualistic goddess, in her later Kali Ma form she is also a symbol of Mother Nature, nurturing and benevolent. Kali is like the transformative power of tough love, your darkness transmuted. When we are breaking apart from circumstance and heading into darkness that is Kali, but when we are fitting the pieces back together and finding our light, that is also Mother Kali. From my understanding, that is. Maybe you can see where I’m heading with this metaphor. 

Dealing with the stresses of parenthood together exposes you to each other’s deepest wounds. If there is anything ugly in your core kids will pull that dark shit right out of you and cover it in glitter and boogers before shoving it directly and repeatedly into your frame of view. “Look! LOOK! Do you see this?!” Kids are Mola Ram invoking the power of Kali to tear into your chest and hold your still-beating heart in front of your face before sacrificing your ego in a pit of flames. In short: kids’ll fuck you up. You need a strong resolve to survive the destruction of the goddess Kali. It requires a tight connection, a sturdy bond to hold your relationship together in the fire as the flesh of your old selves is seared away in sacrifice. Parenthood is some serious shit. It burns a good bit but as with much of life, it helps to laugh. 

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