This morning after my daughter jumped into bed with me, all warm breath and messy hair and piercing blue eyes, each word out of her mouth felt like magic, each laugh we shared threatened to push me over the edge with the sheer joy of it. She was just so sweet, so real, such an embodiment of pure love as she nestled her little hands into the warmth of my neck.
Kids can be like that, their ability to be totally present can be more than a little mind-blowing, reminding you what it feels like to not just go through a human being’s motions, but to really be one.
And yet that’s only half the story, as any experienced (and non-delusional) parent knows. There are the other moments, the ones that don’t dazzle but rather dehumanize you: the fights you must referee among siblings, the myriad of bodily fluids to be managed, the whining and slowness at inopportune moments, the general dislike of parental suggestions for food, clothing, or any other choices that need to be made.
After my daughter and I emerged from the paradise of our early morning magic, the warm fuzzies were replaced by real life hiccups and things began to fall apart. Keys were lost, milk was spilled, punches were thrown (none by me, in case you wondered), and I ached with the frustration, the indignity of being a parent of young children who must figure out a way to hold it all together when there is still a lunch to pack and a plumber to meet and crying seems to be the only reasonable solution to all of the chaos.
Fortunately, I’ve experienced similar ebbs and flows on my yoga mat and after years of judging myself during the low times, I’ve come to understand it as a spectrum of experience.
Just as in parenting, sometimes yoga practice is glorious – I’ll push up into full wheel pose and my whole body feels like it’s breathing, like it’s shining light from every pore. Then other days I’m a lump of clay that will not be moved, I’m an achy child’s pose, I’m ungraceful and even grotesque in my attempt to move through a single sun salutation.
But in the end, it’s all yoga. The dumpy days and the lovely ones provide the same opportunity for the experience of humanity. On the mat or with the family, it’s not really how the pose looks or who says what that counts. It’s the way you react and how you move through it.
This morning, once I stopped wishing the kids would hold hands and sing kumbaya instead of arguing over pokemon cards, once I acknowledged that the little girl who was now making me crazy was the same one I was in love with this morning, once I gave in to the fact that we would (again) be late for school rather than yelling at my son to get his shoes on, the day got a whole lot better. I got out of the way, I embraced the lumpiness, and felt as much at ease as I would have had it been a smooth morning.
Oh, the humanity.