I pick up my 5-year-old daughter Hannah early from daycare because I have yoga class. I explain that today we can’t run up and down the hill, because we have to get home and make dinner. My husband rolls through the door at 6, around half an hour before he normally gets home. I’m trying to get dinner on the table and failing. Hannah is crying because she doesn’t want to turn off the computer. 21-month-old Jacob, who is now toilet training, has peed on the floor. I call to my husband, in a less than nice voice, “Some help here would be nice!”
Finally, at about 6:10 we all sit down. I get up again once for someone’s forgotten milk or ketchup, and then I refuse to answer any more requests for assistance. I need to eat. I wolf down dinner, as I always do. If I want to eat hot food with two hands I have to seize the moment, no dilly-dallying over pasta for me. Then I try to clean up the meal while my husband gathers the garbage from all quarters of the house. Tomorrow, you see, is garbage day.
I check the clock and realize I’m running late. What else is new? I throw my hair in a ponytail and start to put on my shoes. Hannah sees me and starts in. “Are you leaving? I’m going to miss you. I’m going to miss you so much. And Jacob will, too. He’ll cry a lot. Can I come with you? Oh, I am going to miss you!” Her brother hears the commotion, and reaches for me. I give him a hug and try to hand him to his dad, and he fights it. He clings and cries in indignation. Finally I pry him loose and hand the kicking and screaming bundle to my husband. I pause briefly, feeling a little guilty. But I realize there’s no fixing this, so I walk out the door and don’t look back.
In the car I listen to CBC radio and breathe. I remind myself that my children are with a loving parent who knows what he’s doing. I will be home in less than an hour and a half. Surely, this brief time away will not damage them. As I ascend the mountain towards the community centre that holds my class, I feel as if I’m leaving my day-to-day below. My life is at sea level, up here on the mountain I have peace.
I roll into class 4 minutes late, just as the instructor is finishing up the attendance. I smile sheepishly, as do the 3 people who arrive after me. Many of us in this class are mothers of young children. Punctuality is not our strong suit, but we’re not about to give up yoga anyway.
During class I breathe in and out. I feel the strain of my muscles working. I stretch and feel the pockets of tension that have accumulated in my muscles. I smell my mat, and it makes me feel good. I see my bare feet, and realize that I need to clip my toenails. Add that to the list of self-care items that get overlooked in the chaos of my life. I feel some unreasonable pride in my upper arm strength, and some unreasonable chagrin when I realize my abs are the weakest in class. It didn’t used to be that way, but pregnancy did in my stomach muscles, and lifting babies strengthened my arms.
During relaxation I try to forget all the things that are on my mind. Sometimes, for a blissful moment, I succeed. Other times I find myself composing blog posts or running through my to-do list. I try to be gentle with myself. My mind is not good at being quiet. Quiet, these days, is in such short supply that I can barely conceive of it. And yet, here I am, catching glimpses. If I had 15 more minutes, maybe I could actually see it.
By the time I say my namastes I’m feeling renewed. It’s like I grew 2 inches and lost 10 pounds. I roll up my mat carefully, and tuck it in my bag. I take the time to use the bathroom before I get in my car, because it might be my only chance all week to pee without an audience. Then I make the drive back down the mountain, feeling real life creeping back up on me as I go.
When I arrive home, the house is peaceful. Until Jacob sees me, and starts to cry. He’s wearing his pajamas now, and he looks so young. My stores of patience have been replenished, and I don’t try to brush him off or look imploringly at my husband. I had my zen, and now I am ready to be Mom again.
PS – Many people have suggested that I include a link-up with my monthly reviews. The reviews are an informal listing of a few things I learned in the past month. Since I aim to please, I’ll include a link-up with my May review, which will go live at 6am Pacific on June 2. If you want to play along, write a post on or before June 2, come here, and link up. I have a feeling this is going to be fun!