Mom Things I Learn During Yoga #6: I’m Already DOING the Job.

After a particularly long and draining day of parenting two tiny people, I was listening to a podcast from A Quiet Mind while doing some yoga stretches. The podcaster, Robert Jackson, was describing the various ‘selves’ who are there during meditation. There is the one who wants to meditate, who is going to “do meditation,” and “get it right.” There is the one who wants to leave, the inner voice who says the exercise is stupid, it’s not going to work anyway, and why are you wasting your time? But then, he says, “in the midst of all this noise, there is a presence who is unaffected. Who is this?” he asks. This is the one who is already meditating. The one just sitting there, experiencing and being aware of all this conflict going on in the mind.

I definitely recognize these different versions of myself when I’m doing yoga. And I imagine other people feel these versions of themselves when they do their own favourite activity: physical exercise, movie-watching, reading, colouring, having a bath, taking a walk… whatever.

One one hand,intend to do my “me time”: I deliberately focus on my activity, determined to really experience each moment and eliminate distractions so I can get some solid self-care. I’m going to take advantage of it; it won’t be a waste. I feel that pressure to make sure I savour it.

On the other, I hear the negativity: next-up to-do items pulse in my mind like smartphone notifications, I’m wary of the clock and how much time I have to devote to this before I’ll be on to the next thing, and too often, I even question myself for indulging in the first place. Wouldn’t it be a wiser use of my time to get x chore or task done? Doesn’t taking this time for myself mean I’ll have just as much of the other shit to do later, but less time to do it?

But there is that third version of me – the one who’s already doing my me time, or in my case, my yoga. As all this is going on in my head, there is the me who’s just moving, breathing, stretching, taking the time, being alone, being quiet. It’s just hard to notice this one, because it’s being crowded out by those other voices and intentions.

I think parenting is like that, too.

There’s the me who intends to parent: I’m going to do this to the best of my ability, I’m going to be empathetic and connected and consistent and fun and reasonable and, and, and…

There’s the inner voice that pipes in with negativity and doubt: I just don’t have the time to be the parent I want to be. Why do I even waste the ten minutes trying to kindly garner cooperation when I know I’m going to end up carrying him crying to the car anyway? Why do I put so much pressure on myself to get it right when I know ‘messing up’ as a parent is unavoidable?

But then, in the midst of all that, there is the one who is already meditating – or rather, already parenting. I’m already in the moment with my kid, regardless of whether I’m in a good mood and optimistic about my own behaviour, or wether I’m listening to the negativity and convinced the next minute/hour/day is going to be a bust.

But here’s the rub: my kid can’t hear the words of these first two selves. He only sees the me who is already there: kissing boo-boos, laughing at his jokes, getting snappy when we’re late, silly-dancing, reading books, feeding his baby brother, washing our hands and faces, reminding him to be gentle with the cat, cleaning up lunch, playing trains, following him on a little walk down the street, struggling with him on teeth brushing, singing songs, and kissing him goodnight.

This mom is in the moment, she’s present – she’s essentially doing yoga (parenting) all the time. And maybe, much like in yoga, my whole experience will be a little less stressful and a little more joyful if I pay more attention to this me. Because while I’m worrying about whether I’m going to do a “good job” or a “bad job” of this whole mom thing, of my life, today, tomorrow, and next year, time is marching on. I’m already doing the job. I’m already living it.

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