Being kind to ourselves is sometimes the hardest thing to do. We constantly judge ourselves and perhaps magnify what we feel are our shortcomings. We never therefore are the person we think we should be. Who should we be if not who we already are?
Now, I feel I should be an understanding father, for example. And sometimes, when I am feeling ill, for example, I will not be so understanding as a father. The other night, when reading bedtime stories to my 4-year-old son, he said he was thirsty. I was tired, in pain and wanted him to fall asleep already. I was impatient and the thought of having to walk down the stairs to get a glass of water made me imagine the burden on my hurting legs. I was fed-up. He also said his feet were cold and wanted socks on. I admit, I brushed his requests off and told him no, and to go to sleep. I was almost angry. Then I looked at his face. He is 4. He was sad. He was cold and thirsty and I was being, well, frankly a jerk. To my own son. I swallowed my ego-mind, looked at him in the eyes and told him I was sorry, and I will get him water and kissed his head. His sad face melted a bit. After I got his water and he was drinking it, I got him some socks and put them on his feet for him. We laid down and he held me tight., now with a smile. I read him a story from his favorite night-time book and he quickly fell asleep.
I would have cried if I wasn’t still feeling angry.. though my anger was now at myself. I accepted my shortcoming and moved on…. But getting back to my opening … I think I should be a better father, and this keeps me trying,trying trying to always be the best father…but it also means I never accept myself for who I am right now. Sure, I never want to be complacent and think I am the world’s best papa, but I also know living in the future of some version of myself is not helpful.
So, there is a balance. Accepting who I am right now, but not giving up on becoming more… to unfold the Buddha already inherent inside me.
Reading a bedtime story can be the best Buddhist practice. Learning about compassion is there. Learning about Ego is there. Learning of acceptance and non-attachment is there. Learning about love is there.