This morning, while waiting for a classroom to clear so we could start our middle school PTA meeting, I was talking to another mom—while I've only known her for 3 weeks I saw the strain etched in her face and knew things were bad. She looked so tired and stressed and in 2 minutes I knew she was trying to survive the endless thankless juggle I know so well. I asked if she had a day job, besides being a mother. The answer was no, she'd been out of work for awhile but couldn't imagine finding time to return. A parent was in the hospital battling dementia. She had 2 kids in 2 different schools and had issues and challenges with both. It had been a particularly hard week she said. It's a story I think most mothers these days relate to. Always taking care of someone else, our needs/wants/desires are last on the list, if ever met at all. One small example: this morning at 4 Jack woke me up to tell me he had to go to the bathroom. What could have been a decent night's sleep now became one in a long line of interrupted evenings. Nothing is sacred when it comes to me. My nights, my showers, my work, my free time.
I told her my fantasy. To stop time for everyone but me, so that I could breathe for a little while and not have life fall apart around me. My time stop fantasy would include a massage and steam room but should you want to hop on the fantasy bandwagon, feel free to personalize. When time resumed, after a week or a day or an hour, there wouldn't be added pressure to get homework done, emails to answer, people to pick up, phone calls to return that build up so quickly whenever I take a moment for myself.
I realized, as I was pondering this post running from that PTA meeting to my next stop, that the moment of space is why I practice yoga. I'm not on a spiritual path (I'm too jaded for that). I'm not interested in hand-standing in the middle of a studio (not like that would ever happen anyway). Yoga gives me a way of opening a window in a very busy life and breathing fresh air for an hour. My phone is off. The spin in my head slows down and while it never entirely stops, it's a much welcome change from the endless list making, problem solving that occupies my thoughts. I know there's a side benefit to my practice. I'm calmer than I used to be—it's hard to maintain my former level of constant anxiety after sweating and twisting to music in a hot pink and orange room with endlessly high windows and sunlight dripping through cracks in the velvet curtains. I am grateful to have this other life that's separate from parenting, from work, from laundry, where I can escape and be just me for a little while. I wish that sort of space for all the other mothers out there, who get lost in everyone else.
And now, day 5 is complete.