A Swimming Fail


Today I set out on a big adventure: taking my one-and-a-half-year-old to the pool by myself.

In the late summer and early fall, I had a habit of taking her to the pool every week, but the routine I had (designed by my inspiringly intrepid friend) involved avoiding the change room by wearing a loose-fitting dress and not getting changed out of my bathing suit until I got home. When the weather got colder, my system failed me.

My daughter is more physically independent now, so I decided that we were ready to try out swimming and getting changed afterward. I’ve been wanting to go again for a while now, and today was the first morning we had the chance to head out to go swimming at Hillcrest Pool.

When we arrived, I was so excited to see so many available parking spots! Parking can be quite a production at this pool. But, as I am looping around to get a great spot, I notice that there is no one in the pool. That doesn’t happen at Hillcrest. Turns out, the pool is closed for the whole month of April.

What to do? I pull out my phone and search for “indoor pools Vancouver”, and the Vancouver Aquatic Centre comes up. It’s 20 minutes away, so off we head.

We get to the second pool of our day, and because it is downtown, it is pay parking. We pay $3.50 for one hour of parking, and head into the pool. Long story short, it turns out that the pool for little kids isn’t open in the morning! We can’t swim again!

Since we’ve paid for parking, we spend a bit of time watching people swim in the big pool. We check out the kids’ pool and decide that it would be fun to come back to go swimming. My daughter works on her walking-up-and-down-stairs skills in the bleachers. And then we head home for lunch.

There is a story that our morning was a bit of a failure. We didn’t go swimming. We mostly drove around. And I paid for parking unnecessarily.

But my daughter’s story goes something like this:

“Big pool!”
“Little pool!”
“Little pool fun!”

She went on like this during the drive home and through lunch. If you had no idea what happened this morning, you would have thought she had the most amazing swimming adventure of her life!

Listening to her was such a powerful reminder of how much more joy there is in life when we have less attachment to how it is unfolding.

Parenthood, Bathrooms & Flying Monkeys

Living Yoga Parenthood Svadhyaya

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.