“What if I squashed that person’s seat in front of me?,” my almost 5 year old asked me on a recent flight home. “What if I squashed the whole plane?” “What if I squashed the whole Universe?” “What if I squashed the whole Universe, times 1000?” (his biggest unit of measurement) The questions continued for the hour long flight. (It felt like 52 hours. Insert cliched truth of days being long, years short, here.) My daughter climbed on me, her drool once falling into my eyeball, and screamed when I tried to hold her in my lap. She didn’t care so much when the flight attendant gave me a withering look and said, “We CAN experience unexpected turbulence.” “I GOT her,” I shot back.
In addition to teaching yoga, I stay at home with my children. Most of the time, I am really happy with that choice. I know I am fortunate to have that choice. I also sometimes send texts, like the one I sent today: “My children are driving me f’in insane. I’m going to this gym where I have a free pass. I’m going to hopefully hand them to a random stranger so that I can run my rage out on a treadmill. Whole Mama Yoga.”
I caught my daughter’s poop in my hand yesterday. She’s 17 months old so she’s incredibly aware of exactly what she wants and has absolutely no idea how to communicate said wants. She’s just discovered that she likes biting. My son screams/yodels/squeaks at random intervals throughout the day, usually accompanying said shrieks with some violent erratic movement and an additional loud noise. Often a crash. Sometimes followed by the outcry of his sister.
You know this already, but I need to tell you. I would do anything for these rascal munchkins. And I know that they won’t be rascal munchkins for very long. I miss it even when it’s happening. But I’m also fully human, and parenting is hard. I am sure that the hashtag #parentingishard is out there in the social media world in the gazillions. Every blog that touches on parenting also touches on both its difficulty and its wonder.
Remembering to breathe is hard, even when you’re someone who tells people to do it for a living (the telling, not selling breathing as something at which you can monetarily excel). Being present is difficult. Being present while simultaneously removing dog food from your daughter’s mouth, checking out your son’s latest lego creation, and attempting to use the bathroom makes it more difficult. Thich Nhat Hanh might even find that scenario challenging.
Taking care of small children can be boring and annoying, interspersed with shots of adrenaline so extreme, I sometimes yearn for a fast-acting cortisol antidote. Parenting can also strike you to the core with its profundity and amaze you with the heart’s capacity for love. I held my daughter last night before putting her to bed. I was exhausted and grumpy and hadn’t been doing much deep breathing that day. She put her head on my shoulder and her chest connected with mine. Her breathing was enough for both of us.
There will be days of connection and of balance, when your entire being is radiant and everything seems to make sense. And there will be days when you catch poop in your hand. There’s a line in the song, “Comfort,” by The Weepies, that says “We’re only as separate as your little fingers. So, cry, why not, we all do, then turn to one you love. And smile a smile that lights up all the room.”
I see you, radiant, tired mama. Keep practicing. Keep breathing. I’ll be here with you.