Yoga Class

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!

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  1. I feel almost like you were writing about the exact same scene in our house except it would be when I try to meet with my mothers group for mom’s night out. Last time I left I was able to preprep my 4.5 y old enough that she didn’t freak out the baby but I’m guessing it’s a one time thing.

    Glad you can get some me time! (I need to do it more often.)
    .-= Rose´s last post ..If you register your site for free at =-.

  2. I’m glad you were able to get a moment for yourself! Even if your mind was still circling over to-do lists. It was YOUR time and if that’s how your body needs to unwind, then go with it! I think over time you will be able to ‘blank’ your brain on cue. It’s like making that moment part of your to-do list. Imagine a black room, or white walls. Usually I imagine darkness, wherever that is. It helps me feel my ‘ohm’.
    .-= Sara´s last post ..Oh, Canada… =-.

  3. This should become part of a “motherhood, this will happen” manual… Been there, done that. Will be there again, again and again…
    .-= Mel´s last post ..Thankful Friday: Really, there is not much that matters =-.

  4. Where do you go for your class? And what day is it? I could use some namaste 🙂
    .-= Carrie´s last post ..Happy Birthday Mike! =-.

  5. I ‘m always late nowadays. I really REALLY need to force myself to sign up for a yoga class. The end result sounds like it’s worth the chaos beforehand.
    .-= Marilyn´s last post ..What I Learned: May 2010 =-.

  6. Yoga has an amazing way of making you feel completely relaxed and strong. I’m glad you got this time to yourself.

  7. LOL, i remember those days. Now i’m lucky if i get a raised head or a backwards glance – to be honest, i much prefer it this way as there’s no stress to leaving the house. On “going out” mights when I’m trying to fix my hair and working on ‘looking special’ my DH still hovers uselessly until I hiss at him for some help (men can be such good watchers) – it’s difficult to get ready when you’re answering a million and one ‘where is my Hobbes?’ questions.
    Congrats on getting a little treats time for yourself solo.
    and LOL about the mountains being your haven of peace …..!
    .-= pomomama aka ebbandflo´s last post ..(almost a) what i learned in may (post) =-.

  8. Ha ha! The first couple paragraphs of this sound WAY too familiar! ; ) I can totally relate to this need for us to quiet our minds and our bodies. Recently, I came across an amazing book called “MOMfulness: Mothering with mindfulness, compassion and grace. Each short chapter is like a mini yoga class and always leaves me feeling refreshed about motherhood. I wrote about it here if you want to know a bit more.
    Thanks for reminding us all to take some time.
    .-= Kristin´s last post ..Dear Diary =-.

  9. Yoga has always been a much needed breather for me, too. 🙂

  10. This captures it PERFECTLY. For me it’s martial arts rather than yoga, but same idea. My wish for every mom out there is that she find the time, energy, and resources to take a little time for herself and invest it in reconnecting body, mind, and spirit.

  11. You captured the whole scene so well. It is almost so difficult to get yourself there you might pass it up—BUT when you make it yoga class is absolutely life saving. I missed this week and am already counting down the hours until Sunday evening.
    .-= Hillary´s last post ..hillaryboucher: The kids are effectively full from lunch and chilled out listening to The Magic Tree House Audio Books. #happy =-.

  12. Lyndsay says:

    Amber! This is a brilliant post. I too feel this tension when I want to leave for a run, and also find myself telling myself that Aodhan is with a loving parent and will be fine. Way to enjoy the yoga. Sounds so blissful.

  13. I’m so, so glad you went ahead! Your kids won’t even remember the moment, while you may be able to project something fresh into your days (not to mention the 2 inches gained and the 10 pounds lost:)!).
    Did you see this?
    It’s a wonderful post.
    Happy June Amber!
    .-= Francesca´s last post ..shared memories =-.

  14. Ohmygosh, you described my Saturday morning down to the minute! I always feel guilty about ditching the family and running off to yoga class for my blissfully quiet hour -and-a-half. But my instructor always says at the end to thank ourselves for taking this time every week to just be with ourselves and be good to ourselves. It’s so true and so necessary.
    .-= Sarah´s last post .."And she took to her bed for the rest of her days…" =-.

  15. Just awesome! You captured the tension between momming and being. Keep it up 😉
    .-= harriet Fancott´s last post ..May rewind =-.

  16. I love that you are composing blog posts at yoga class. I do that too – not at yoga class but anytime I’m off the mom-frequency channel, usually when I’m drifting off to sleep. I so get that leaving-your-kids thing. Mine are like that too. I’ve learned to feel happy about leaving but when I first had mommy-time I was so guilt-ridden. It does fade though, and the older they get, the more fun they have without me!
    .-= Melodie´s last post ..Have You Ever Wanted To Nurse Someone Else’s Baby? =-.

  17. Oh yes, this is so spot on. For me it is just heading out to my studio which is in the same house so I don’t get the car ride part. I miss being in a car by myself. It hasn’t happened in years. Literally.
    .-= AmberDusick´s last post ..Welcome June Summer =-.

  18. My ballet class is much the same for me. It’s a rare moment when I can stop thinking about everyone else.
    .-= Lady M´s last post ..Best Thing Ever =-.

  19. this post makes me want to take yoga on a mountain! (it sounds soooo relaxing) taking time for ourselves is so necessary to being a good parent!
    .-= themombshell´s last post ..this is not funny =-.

  20. Oh, honey, I could have written this myself! Except in my case my big girl is six and the baby — also just shy of two — is a little girl. I have always given myself the gift of exercise and yoga. Working moms (heck ALL moms) need time for ourselves. For me, yoga and spin classes are my self medication. Without them I can’t work, I am not as patient and I’m not as good of a wife.

    Keep making the trek to those classes! And enjoy!
    .-= Karen Bannan from NaturalAsPossibleMom´s last post ..What Do I Do with Rhubarb? =-.

  21. Last night I fed my kids, left my husband to fend for himself, I snatched my book and I went to a dinner in the village over. I ate a wonderful cordon blue crunchy chicken burger with fries and gravy. I nursed my own bottle of coke and read and was quiet all by myself. I was kind enough to order one of their gourmet pizza`s for my husband, who really doens`t do very well when left to fend for himself. I was gone about an hour and it was glorious.
    .-= Heather´s last post ..Mom’s Big But =-.

  22. I’d love to have a discussion about the whole issue of short and long-term separations from kids. I think most people feel that some time away from our young children is fine and maybe even beneficial, but is there a point where it is too much? Does it depend on the child? How can parents know? I am not asking these questions to make anyone feel bad about what they do or don’t do, but I wish we had a lot more research on these issues.

    Because – we have Nils Bergman’s research on newborns and how being away from the mother even for brief periods of time causes high levels of stress (affecting baby’s blood pressure, cortisol, heart rate, breathing, digestion, etc.), with potentially long term effects. I asked him once (when we were both at a conference) at what point those effects diminish or stop. He said he didn’t know but he thought it went on for quite a long time. We have research that shows young children in daycare are stressed, as shown by measurement of cortisol, and that sometimes the children who seem quiet and content are more stressed than the ones who are actively protesting.

    Dr. Gordon Neufeld says that the most traumatic experience for a baby or young child is being separated from the adult he or she is attached to.

    And yet, lots and lots and lots of mothers are away from their babies and children quite frequently. Is it harmless? The kids mostly seem okay, right? But is there some risk? What magnitude?

    I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on this. I wish we had more research and understood more about it – how these experiences affect babies and children.


    • It is a good question, and I have to say that I don’t undertake the separation lightly. This is the first evening class I’ve taken away from my children, and my youngest was 20 months when it started. I personally chose to wait until he was over the worst of his separation anxiety, which happened for us at approximately 18 months. And I also chose a class that allows me to be home by bedtime.

      I believe that young children do have a strong need to be with their primary caregiver, but I also believe that it does diminish and change with time. In my mind, brief separations with a toddler are much different than with, say, a newborn. And as the mother of 2 children I have also found that they handle it differently. So for me, the best that I can do is try to ensure that I am meeting the needs of my children, and myself, as best I can. In this case, I need to exercise, and I have not been successful at trying to do it together with my children.

      I don’t think that there’s any way to know what is and isn’t OK, in the long run. There never really is as a parent. The best that we can do is be sensitive to our children, follow our own instincts and use our own judgment. But I also believe that when parents are sincerely doing the best that they can for themselves and their kids, and making decisions thoughtfully, that it’s probably going to be OK. Maybe not perfect, but OK.

  23. I have started doing yoga a couple of times a week. I love it. I need it. I need more than the physical activity, I need the breathing and the meditation.

    I didn’t go to yoga today and I am cranky.
    .-= Capital Mom´s last post ..Mail =-.

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