The alarm either bodily or electronic nags at me each early morning to awaken, partake in my 6-minute ayurvedic ritual (involves oil, cold water, neti pots, lotion, lemon… sounds more luscious than it is), run/tiptoe to my cushion/mat, light my altar candle and get it started before I answer to anything or anyone else. Sit. Breathe. Recite mantra. Move with intention and gratitude. Sometimes I make it and sometimes they are lurking in the nearby pillows waiting to pounce on my ounce of ME time. Awake, they want something. They wait while mama finishes. They squirm, sometimes join me, sometimes whine, sometimes chant, their faces aglow in the light of the candle as they pick at it and then spill wax on the new hardwood floor. This pre-dawn, only occasionally pre-awake children time is what I fight for. I fight with my inner call to serve them from the first second, I fight with the demands of the iPhone and all its titillating distractions that seem oh, so important, I fight with the bed that wants to cuddle me, but to step into that space before anything else is the way in which I survive with some semblance of equanimity.
So as a frequently traveling yoga teacher and a single mama of two girls, here goes. IF I “do” anything to keep those two things in some kind of unwieldy balance, this is what it might look like:
• Practice. See above paragraphs.
• Listen. I attempt to keep my ears open and really hear what is going on within and without. I attempt, against much human conditioning, to stay interested in who these little people are and how we’re connecting along this winding familial yet individuated journey.
• Ground. I look to find my feet on the ground and find ways, any ways to stay grounded in the midst of the push and pull.
• Engage. By continuing to touch and be touched by the outer world and its doings I allow myself to be nourished by the goings on of this big world.
• Space. I look for it for them and for myself.
• Remember. The totality of this journey is beyond good grades, neat hair, socially acceptable behavior (see kids picking nose in public, see kids forgetting underwear while wearing a dress in public, see kids rudely greeting friends and colleagues), and clean rooms. I simply get a short amount of time to closely tend to these hearts.
I practice to remember the impermanence of it all.
Please don’t understand the bullet points as some easy few steps to follow to find parental harmony. Nope, it’s just a few parts of the web of caring for yourself and this practice enough so that you can care for others, others who rely on you to model self-care, dedication, humble effort, and… pretty much everything else.
So, I suppose what I’m saying is: practice. Fight for it. Press the pause button on parenting. Fight tooth and nail with the allure of the iPhone, the to-do list, and the unceasing demands of motherhood. Get up and walk to your mat, even when you don’t think you want to, even when you’re quite sure you can’t do it today. How do I do it? I don’t know how, but I know it starts here.