That Moment 

I hadn’t taught kids in quite some time when I began teaching a few classes at a preschool last month. I was rusty and a little awkward and felt like it went… okay.

This morning I taught again and I felt my confidence in teaching surfacing again. It by no means went perfectly but there was this moment. 

It was when I walked into the last classroom and a girl was screaming crying and the kids were running and it was so loud. I sat down and began taking deep breaths, and something miraculous happened; the kids got silent and followed. 

We took a few breaths together and it was quiet and calm. And THAT moment, the brief pause between the lesson plan and the noise and the crying and the excited screaming and the running and the diving hugs, THAT is why I love sharing yoga with kids. 

If you watched a class it wouldn’t look like a clean and tidy yoga practice that’s tied in a bow. It would look a little messy and loud. But I’ve taught long enough to know that kids are sponges taking it all in in their own way. And what a gift for me today to bring them a moment of calm without saying a word. 

Mom Yoga, Toddler Yoga

Today I got in a yoga practice and it felt so good. I was able to do this because of Emily’s fascination with shoes. You see, she spent most of this time off to the side trying to get on her sneaker!

She wasn’t the least bit frustrated or annoyed as she did this over and over again, even though she never actually got her sneaker on. She was just content to be in the moment practicing something.  Isn’t it amazing how focused a child can be when exploring something they are interested in?

Emily reminded me of one of the Niyamas or observances in yoga called Santosha. Santosha means finding satisfaction in exactly who we are and where we are without wanting to change anything.

I am grateful that today we both got in a yoga practice. I got in my yoga through the poses (asana) and Emily got in her yoga by practicing her one-pointed focus (dharana) during her shoe-putting-on investigation!

Walking Beside Her

Every night as Em is winding down she does laps around the apartment. It’s like she’s walking off all her remaining energy. Tonight she kept grabbing my finger and leading me around with her. Even though I slept a lot last night I still felt so tired. I think that never ending tired feeling is just motherhood. 

Anyway, even though all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch and not move, and even though my mind kept wandering to the veggie burger and fries I would order once she went to bed, every time she grabbed my finger I walked with her. I reminded myself that she won’t always want to walk with me. She won’t always want to bring me along into her world with her.

So, I thought- as long as she wants to bring me into her world, I will be there walking beside her.

Anyone But Me (A tale of middle school)

When I was in the 6th grade I would pass notes back and forth with a good friend. We drew funny scenes with imaginary characters and then wrote a little story about the character.  I don’t remember the particulars of the scenes, but I do remember laughing a lot.

One particular day the scene I drew was not funny. I drew an unflattering picture of a mutual friend. I made her look fatter than she was, made fun of her clothes, and drew arrows at her hair mocking her ponytail. I don’t remember the description I wrote, but it was probably equally mean-spirited.

I remember erasing the first drawing I made to make her look thinner because something inside of me was telling me to stop. I also remember getting a feeling in my gut to NOT pass the note. I wasn’t yet familiar with that intuitive voice inside, so I passed it along anyway.

Passing that note happened to coincide with the holiday season, and my group of friends were doing a Secret Santa. We would leave clues and presents in the locker of the person we had drawn to be our gift recipient. On the last day before holiday break, I opened my locker excited to find out who my Secret Santa had been.

What I saw inside was the note I had written hanging and surrounded by festive holiday streamers. Below it was a sign that read, “Next time you write something mean you should be careful.” Turns out, my Secret Santa was the friend I had made fun of.

My heart completely sank and I felt instant shame.

I don’t remember how everything else unfolded. I don’t remember if I apologized or if I just hid from the friend I had written the note about (probably the latter).  What I do remember was from that from that point on I was an outcast in my group of “friends.”

Around that same time, I had to miss a sleepover party because I had a dance show. When I came into school that Monday morning a friend came rushing towards me. “Everyone was talking about us the party”, she told me. When I asked her what she meant she went on to tell me a number of cruel things the girls had apparently said about me. The one thing that stood out and still hurts to this day is how they said I tried to be funny but wasn’t. They said they had to fake laugh at my “jokes.”

In addition to the note and sleepover drama, during this time I also really pissed off a friend (the same one who I had passed that note to by the way). She and I had a big crush on a boy named Steve (yes, he’s now my husband). Without telling me she asked him out, and they began “dating.” At the time I think that meant they would occasionally hold hands in public. Anyway, when someone asked what I thought about her asking out Steve I said, “No comment.” My lack of a comment got back to her and she was MAD. She didn’t want to speak to me anymore either. With that, I lost another friend.

From that day on, I wasn’t allowed to sit at the table with that group of girls anymore. I would sit at a different table feeling totally excluded and completely worthless.

In the midst of all this, I remember being in dance class and watching an older dancer perform. I thought, “I wish I was her.” I was hit with the absolute sinking feeling of TRULY wishing I was anyone else but me. To be her, I thought, would be so much easier. She was pretty and talented. I bet she had friends at school who let her sit with them. I bet she didn’t have problems like awkward, unfunny, ugly me.

Looking back, I know why I wrote that terrible note. It was because I felt terrible about myself. It felt good to project that feeling onto another person and get momentary relief. Many years later I was able to apologize to that friend for writing the note. I told her it was cruel and I should have never done it. She accepted my apology and laughed it off. She seemed a little uncomfortable with how serious I was about saying I was sorry.

Looking back, I’m happy I missed that sleepover. Instead of gossiping about other girls (which I most likely would have done), I was performing on stage.

Looking back, I’m not sorry I said “no comment” about my friend dating Steve. I really liked him. I married the guy for Christ’s sake! And I could have said something so much worse.

Anyway, I was wondering why I’ve been thinking about all this stuff lately, and maybe it’s because of the state of our world. There is so much animosity and hatred. There is a fighting and cruelty and misunderstanding. And it makes me wonder- where does that come from? If a person feels worthless, if they wish they were anyone else but them- how do you think they treat others?

I’m totally serious when I say- maybe how middle school girls treat each other is a microcosm of the darkness of the human condition. There was fear of anyone or anything different. There was projecting worthless feelings onto each other.  There was creating an “us” and “them.” At any moment everyone could turn their back on you. Middle school was rough!

My story is such a small one. It can by no means be compared to the serious horrors happening in our world right now. It does remind me though to stop and ask, “If that person is treating others like that, how must they feel?”

 

 

 

 

 

See What’s in Front of You

I’ve learned a whole lot in my first year of motherhood, and there’s one big lesson I want to share.  I’m learning to see what’s in front of me rather than getting carried away with my worries.

This past year with each big change in Emily’s development I found myself getting overwhelmed and even scared. A few milestones that stand out in my mind are switching her from her bassinet to her crib, introducing her to solid foods, giving her supplemental formula, and teaching her to fall asleep on her own through sleep training.  All of these changes seem small in hindsight but seemed insurmountable at the time.

I found myself becoming obsessed with the BEST way to do things. I told myself if I made the “wrong” decision I would cause serious damage to Emily. I’m not kidding when I say I would run away to crazy places in my mind.

The thing is when I look back I see that even if I did things differently, Emily would be totally fine.  There’s really no best way to do things. What’s most important is really seeing the human being in front of me rather than getting caught up in the “shoulds” of parenting.

Case in point the latest “problem” I’ve been pondering. In the past month or so Emily has gotten into the habit of falling asleep while drinking her last bottle of the evening. For a few days I found myself in a dark cloud of worry while I gave her that last bottle. I would tell myself, this is a very bad habit. I would tell myself, this needs to stop ASAP. I would run the phrase, “You should always put your baby down awake” over and over in my mind and convince myself I was somehow failing. I would feel shame.

Then tonight as I held Emily in my arms while she drank her bottle, she played with my hair and her eyes began to close. I looked down at her sweet serene face and I thought- SEE WHAT’S IN FRONT OF YOU. Right there in my arms was my sweet baby girl playing with my hair and falling asleep in my arms. I mean, she still fits in my arms. How amazing is that?

I reminded myself that the beauty of that moment was fleeting. Emily won’t always fall asleep in her mama’s arms and want to play with her mama’s hair. This was a moment for me to cherish NOT a moment for me to run away with fear, worry and shame.

If I push aside all of the “shoulds.” If I stop comparing myself and my child to other moms and children. If I really sit down and feel what my instinct is telling me, I know we are okay. I know when the time is right we will take the bottle away. I also know Emily is a capable human being who can fall asleep on her own just fine when we decide to make that change. She’s okay. She’s more than okay.

Moms and dads out there- please hear me when I say this. SEE WHAT’S IN FRONT OF YOU. See what’s there today and try not to get carried away with the tomorrows. I know how easy it is to fear that you’re somehow failing or doing things wrong. But if you can pause, breathe and see the human being in front of you, you’ll remember that nothing else really matters except that deep love you feel inside. Enjoy the little moments of today because they pass by and become the big moments of tomorrow.

You’re doing great. Just keep on seeing what’s in front of you.

 

 

 

Happy First Birthday, Emily Rae!

I wrote this yesterday for my baby girl’s first birthday, and didn’t have a chance to post it since we had such a fun, beautiful day together. I’m officially the mama of a one year old!

 

Dear Emily,

One year ago you entered our lives. I heard it before- life changes completely when you have a baby. I never could have understood that though until we had you.

You have taught me so much. You have taught me to take each day moment by moment. To not fear change. To understand everything is actually ALWAYS changing. To find a deep strength and confidence I never knew was inside of me. Knowing that I grew you and gave birth to you makes me feel like the strongest person in the world.

I admire your friendliness and love of socializing and meeting new people. I admire your humor. I admire your presence and honesty; how you love to read books- but only the ones YOU want to read. I admire your warmth and cuddliness and big smiles. I admire your awareness and strength and wit.

Thank you for giggling and clapping for me when I do ballet for you. Thank you for laughing at my jokes. Thank you for practicing yoga with me. Thank you for always being game for a stroll and an adventure. Thank you for being nothing else but exactly who you are, and that person is someone I love truly, madly, deeply (as the 90’s band Savage Garden says).

Happy first birthday to our love! We will love you forever.

 sweet-emmy-rae

Big First Steps

On Saturday as millions of people participated in the Women’s March Emily took her first steps. How incredible that on such a historic day when people marched to have their voices heard, Emily decided to walk too! I am so proud to live in a country where millions can gather together to peacefully protest. And I am so proud to have a daughter who day after day inspires me and reminds me that the future is bright.

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