Friday, October 2, 2009

let's do the time warp

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.


Erin said...

Wow. This post just pegged my life, as I'm sure it will any other mother that reads it. The struggle to be perfect for our children and never drop a ball all while maintaining perfection in our job/marriage/'s just too much sometimes. You've enlightened me. I think I will take some time out for yoga, even if it's in my own living room after my son is in bed. Calm is a fleeting memory from when I was single, so a little taste each day couldn't hurt.

elissa stein said...

Sometimes I literally feel guilty by taking time for myself (especially when my little one complains bitterly about my going) but I think mothers, who work the hardest, deserve moments of calm the most. Hang in there and take care of yourself.