Yoga, Mothering and the Precious Inbetweens
July 23, 2014
I remember my first yoga class. I was intimidated. I was excited but I thought I was the only one who didn’t know what to do. I placed my mat on the wood floor and listened with open eyes and ears. I assumed everyone knew some secret yoga handshake.
I remember stretching my hamstrings and calves. I remember opening my hips. I learned child’s pose quickly. I felt sore, challenged, invigorated and humbled.
I remember when my first baby was born. I was definitely sore! I remember my hips opening too! When I saw other mothers I thought they had some secret handshake. They all looked so confident and sure of themselves.
There were times I know I should go to my yoga class but I just didn’t want to. When I pushed through in the end I felt good. I felt like I had invested in myself to get to a new level of peace and strength.
There have been times in my mothering when I wanted to quit. When Phoebe was about 13 months old Rob came home. She was asleep across my body on the sofa. She looked peaceful but when Rob saw my face he said: “You want to quit don’t you?” I started crying. She had been so challenging that day. It was hard. I didn’t quit. I invested in my children. I always will.
I learn something new from each yoga teacher. Sometimes I learn something as simple as pressing into the index finger knuckle for more balance or using a strap around my arms to get up into bridge pose. Sometimes it is a philosophical way to look at the world, to give in to the heat outside or the bitter cold. Sometimes I learn to let go of anger. Sometimes I learn not to worry if my poses aren’t perfect or if I cannot go up on my head. I learned that it is ok if I do not do a headstand.
I learn different things from my children as well. They tell me the truth and sometimes it hurts but I usually learn something. From watching my children I have learned to be compassionate. I have learned to advocate for them and through this experience I have learned to advocate for myself and for others. I have learned that I am not a perfect mother. And I learned I do not have to be.
Once on the playground when Phoebe was swinging and I was across the park nursing Chloe she came running and told me I needed to talk to that other mom. I am not fond of confrontations with other moms but this woman had insisted that Phoebe play with her daughter. I approached the mom. I need to advocate for my six year old who wanted to swing alone and not have the responsibility of caring for another child. I understood this but how could I communicate it.
I walked over to this mom and told her I was the mom of the little girl who did not want to play with her daughter. She told me that a girl her age shouldn’t be mean to five year olds. When I explained that Phoebe was only six and she has a new baby sister the woman softened. My children are big and are often mistaken for being older. It wasn’t painful. Phoebe will not put up with disrespectful behavior and has the language to communicate it.
Chloe is not happy to sit idle. She needs to be challenged nearly constantly. When she was a toddler I had a small baking business. She wanted to bake too. And toy bake ware and play food would not cut it for her. I had to let her help. I learned to set up some baking supplies and equipment that she could handle. I had small metal cake pans, measuring spoons, sprinkles, a bit of sugar and a bit of flour. No wet ingredients!
When I let her help me for real she sat on the counter. I let her crack eggs into a bowl in case there were shells. I let her pour vanilla into a teaspoon. She loves to bake now and is great at it.
One morning when Finn was a bout two and half I was trying to get out the door. I was rushed. I started to yell “HURRY, WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE!!!!” Instead of moving toward the door he stopped, crossed his arms across his sweet body and with a tear dripping onto his cheek he proclaimed, ”You have to be patient.” He is patient with other children and with me.
In yoga I learned to listen to my body. In mothering I learned to listen to my children.
They are both hard work but the investment is so worth it. I feel good. I have a strong body.
My children are growing into courageous, confident and generally happy human beings.
Today in class as we opened our hips in pigeon pose after countless down dogs and chaturanga, sweat dripping down my cheeks, my hair soaked and my body starting to shake a bit the teacher had us move into child’s pose and she said “The work is hard but the moments in between are precious.”
Yes! Phoebe, who is now 19, called me today and just talked. Cuddles, heart to heart talks, giggles, mom-dates. These are the precious in betweens of mothering. They are the reason we say “No” 278 times to the ridiculous requests. They are the reasons we wake in the middle of the night to a fever. They are the reason we carry a big kid with a skinned knee ten backbreaking blocks. They are the reasons we pace the floor when they are teenagers who do not answer their phones after midnight. They are the reason we go to the other parents and tell them you do not appreciate the insulting way you spoke to your child.
As in my yoga practice, as a mom I am challenged, humbled and invigorated.