Parenthood, Bathrooms & Flying Monkeys
Parenthood has been like playing in the gold medal game of a high-level sport. But the sport isn’t hockey or soccer, it is patience. It is emotional awareness and emotional resilience. It is presence and mindfulness. It is empathy and compassion. And the game isn’t a few hours, it is all the time. You might get a timeout to go to the bathroom, but before you know it, a little fist is pounding on the door and you’re hearing, “Mommy!”
Back to the game.
And I’m in it. I get exhausted and frustrated and discouraged, but when it comes down to it, I eat this stuff up. I love being challenged to become more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic, more mindful, more present, more aware, and more resilient. I live for this stuff. When I rock this stuff, I feel like I am rocking life.
When I don’t, I usually need a timeout in the bathroom.
Time in the bathroom became sacred in our house. Until we read a book on potty training that said we should let our daughter watch us go to normalize the behaviour. But, what about timeouts?!
Anyway, I digress. There is an aspect of the yoga practice called Svadhyaya, and it is often translated into English as “self-study”. When I think about practicing yoga in the midst of parenthood, Svadhyaya is the aspect of the practice that feels most prominent to me, and I had an interesting revelation about myself in the context of putting my daughter to bed.
We have a very consistent routine before putting our daughter down to sleep. It has evolved as she has grown older to include flying her stuffed monkey around her room to her and then both she and the monkey “blast off to the sky” (we pick her up and raise her so she can touch her monkey to the ceiling). My husband developed this part of the routine, and the first few times I was putting my daughter down after this evolution of the routine, I avoided the blast off because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get her high enough for the monkey to touch the ceiling.
Eventually, I gave in to requests for the blast off, and as predicted, the monkey fell short of touching the ceiling. But here is the part I didn’t predict: she didn’t care at all. She was excited, and she had a huge smile on her face. She didn’t care about touching the ceiling. It was my story that the point was to touch the ceiling.
I learned something about the stories that I tend to tell myself about what matters, and I am trying to change those stories. I now do regular blast offs, always fall short of getting the monkey to the ceiling, and share lots of laughs and smiles with my daughter as I do. She taught me to tell a different story: that the point is to be playful.