Why “Hatha” Mama?
(Originally posted in April, 2014)
It is definitely not because I live for stretching, although I do love me some yoga.
Ten years ago I was a go go go girl. My previous self had lots of mental to do lists – and all the written ones too. I felt that they really should be long and that I had to be working on something constantly. That was about it. Oh, and I also kinda thought I was a really shitty person. The mental chatter was pretty much split between what I should be doing but wasn’t, and what I should be but wasn’t. Fun times. Inside my brain, there was no time for “relaxing” or enjoying, considering or appreciating, or anything related to what was actually happening right then. I was going to be strong, excel. Check, check. Look at me go, and boy did I look calm doing it… I hoped. But as I edged towards 30 I started to fall apart a little. My repressed instincts told me something was missing… in me, in my life, but I had no idea what was going on. I crumbled a little (in a devastating and relieving way) and while falling apart started to discover life just a teensy bit.
Got married, had a baby and then with the added HOLY SHIT of being a mother, the anxiety started creeping back up – gotta keep going, what should I be doing right this second, it’s never going to end, it’s all on me and I’m not doing it well, bla bla bla. But this time while I did allow that momentum to gather, I was aware that I was choosing more imbalance. And now I was not going to accept that as a mother for my son. And maybe I was not going to accept that for my beautiful self that I suspected was buried in there. Eventually I started working my ass off to unchoose it, just a little each day (or sometimes maybe each month). Fall back a little, pull myself back up. The slippage still cropped up… every day. But gradually I learned I didn’t need to keep rolling down that hill and certainly didn’t need to set up camp at the bottom!
And so… an extra child and four years later, life is fascinating. It is work most of the time and it is so freakin easy when I let it be. I can take names and rock my self right out there, and I can stop, breathe and give myself a little love. That’s the “hatha”. I literally have to put attention towards allowing and uniting these two energies within me. “Ha”, the sun, the strength, the power; and “tha”, the moon, the grace, the gentleness, the reflection. If I don’t, I’m ignoring part of myself and naturally I split and gradually or suddenly start the spiral towards disconnect, frustration, I even toss in a little self loathing. Not only is that outrageously painful, in hindsight it is kinda boring.
Now, lest you believe that in scratching my inner writing itch my plan is to unleash a barrage of zen meditation techniques and ten easy steps to a fully bound lotus position, rest easy. I meditate every day now, because I recognize the increasing difference it makes to my mental health, but it’s often five or fifteen torturous minutes of attempting to come on back, let go of wherever my mind is desperately trying to pull me. (This kind of torture? Still incredibly useful by the way.) Sometimes I think I might want to aspire to the full lotus, but probably not. Currently only my left leg cooperates partially on some days and I’m cool with that.
No, my true desire is to share this juicy journey with some other parents and maybe once in a while we can remind each other that while making a little headway with the laundry pile is important, so is sitting (maybe even alone?) for a couple minutes. While making sure our kids have enriching new experiences is cool, so is letting them tear around screaming for no reason. Interacting for “quality” playtime has undeniable value, but so does saying no thank you to playing the role of Scar yet again and sitting back to watch our kids play. Challenging ourselves to try a slightly different approach to a conflict and realizing when we are too hard on ourselves? Equally precious. Teaching our kids to brush their own teeth or write their name and teaching them to stare at the clouds for way too long. You get the idea. Balance out our power with a little grace – a long lesson I’m slowly, just barely beginning to learn myself through parenthood and yoga.
I love motherhood. It is all those cliche tidbits: the hardest thing I’ve ever tried, the most rewarding and most thankless work one can do, starts at sunrise and lasts past sunset, insane, hilarious, and sweet (that one’s mine), but mostly I love motherhood because of the balance it has forced me to seek, the soul healing it has led me to, the richness it adds to my particular life experience. When my two year old is systematically “watering” all the furniture with his milk cup and my four year old is scrunching up his face in rage to hiss “I’m sooo mad at you for taking my cheese out of the wrapper” through his teeth and one of the dogs is barking incessantly in the yard while clawing yet another hole in the window screen in his fruitless attempts to just be close enough to lick me every second of the day, I sneak into the bathroom to spit out a few choice profanities and then gulp a big breath and try to bring myself back. This is it. These are the ridiculous, rich moments. And yes, I have to go out there and deal with those damn cute little hooligans and clean for like… ever… AGAIN, BUT: I love their eyes (even the damn dogs’); they all love me; I adore them (mostly the kids); and really, I am fantastic, … and my awesome husband will be home eventually. Forward, back, side to side, into the light, back to the dark. I am so blessed to ride this ride.