When the student is ready the teacher appears...or something like that, right?
Before I became a fully present mamma, I learned a valuable lesson from our cat Sheba. Sheba is what I love to call our 7 year old zen mater (thanks Eckhart Tolle, for the reference). She is rarely phased and usually never bothered by the noise or rambunctiousness of my brood of 5. They have been known to dress her, carry her around like a monkey, and the poor thing has had her tail yanked on by so many little fingers that I can't even count...and in the midst of all of this she is as cool as a cucumber.
On a not to particularly important day, I was feeding her and noticed that when her food comes out, she immediately begins to rub my leg...pretty boring enough, right. I mean yeah this is what they and most animals do - big deal! Only, on that particular day, the planets and starts must've aligned because I instinctively understood that this was her form of affection and of appreciation for me giving her meals. To tell you that this blew my fucking mind, is an understatement. But why?
Immediately, I began to think of my children. I thought about all of the times that they needed something and there were appreciative of what I was giving them, showing me with hugs or kisses, or smiles turned from frowns, and due to whatever reason (too numerous to count) when my thoughts were
"they only want me when they need something." or "look the moment that I give them this they are happy. Why can't they love me without ...blah blah blargh."
You see, I realized that when I become so immersed with the outside world, my sense of worth and how it was not being honored, what I was told is appreciation, or the way that my children SHOULD react to me in various times, I removed the pleasures of simple appreciation and pure expression of love.
Like my cat, the truest form of love for my children is care and nurturing. Giving them the things that they need, that I can provide, and allowing them to feel grateful for the exchange, without our feelings of worth - learned or taught - to get in the way.
The lesson that I learned from my zen mater that day, was a powerful one. What was I allowing to look like love to me, rather than accepting it in the form that it comes - no matter the size or my definition. When we are willing to listen, anything and everything is and can be our teacher - it's up to us, however, to take in the lesson.