I remember this Calgon commercial from when I was kid…A woman, dressed in business attire cries out, “The traffic, the boss, the baby, the dog.” She is then, at once surrounded by these images and the accompanying cacophany of sound. She exclaims, “Calgon! Take me Away!” and she is whisked into a beautiful tub looking peaceful and content. This commercial gave me the impression that being a mother was just horribly stressful. I used to wonder how these mystical bath bubbles could actually soothe and let all the chaos of life melt away. I never believed that it could, not for an instant. The slogan was like a jokey cry, mocking the stressed out mom.
Fast forward a few decades later….The joke is on me. With three kids, I have survived many Calgon moments. The cry “Calgon, take me away!” has become a euphemism for those moments when I would just like everyone to disappear. If only a box of soap bubbles would make it all go away! If only it was that easy!!
Parenthood is hard enough when both parents are doing their share, but when your partner is called away on business and you are on your own for awhile with an infant and/or kids, parenting takes on a new level of challenge. You are on all the time. Right now, I am finishing a two week stint solo parenting our brood of three. This is the second such mission in the past two months. It hasn’t been easy, but I have experience under my belt and have come to terms with what does and does not work.
When I am on my own I, have a hard time “shutting off.” There is a slight rush of adrenaline that runs through me at all times. Usually, when I am running in high gear, I am able to turn to my yoga mat and utilize the extra energy I am exuding to find my physical and mental peace. But, when I am alone and have no one to mind the kids, I am left with very little in the way of a physical outlet. I find myself performing desperate asana in the kitchen, using the tree in the yard as a support for my handstands, and jumping into posture at every chance I get.
I know I should just sit…sit and meditate, activate my bandhas, conjure my tapas and burn away the garbage, and I do try, that is until someone comes busting in to tell me about whatever insult the other lobbed and how I should do something about it. I have to remind myself then, “Breathe, Janet, breathe.” And I do…A LOT. Many big breaths are sucked in and many great big exasperated sighs are exhaled in great big bellows of discontent. Sometimes, I am loathe to admit, I lose it and fire out orders like a drill sargent. They shoot from my mouth like bullets aiming to shut the chaos down. It really takes breath control to conjure such a voice…Could that be considered some kind of pranyama? I always feel disappointed in myself, but then remember, I can try again.
These moments challenge the yogi in me more then any other. I have to remember to breathe, I have to remember to detach, even if the mess is piling up and the windows, walls and floors are shaking with the barelling energy of my three willful children. The dishes will get done, eventually. The dinner will be whatever it is and it will be eaten. I cannot control the situation and I need to just flow. I imagine myself in a difficult posture–Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana–my nemesis. It takes my breath, strength and softness to breathe into it, and some days feel just like that.
I realized in the past that I had been too hard on myself. I was self-critical and would push myself past my edge. I was not practicing Asteya–(non-stealing). When I was honest with myself, (Satya) I realized that I was giving all my energy into running the household at the same level I did when my husbnad was home. If I kept doing that, I would have nothing left for myself, or my kids. We would all be miserable. When I was able to accept this revelation and let the unnecessary things go, it was liberating. It was moksha–liberation, from the expectations I created.
If you feel free, you are free. You can run outside with your kids, catch a frisbee and bask in the warmth of the sun. You can live in the moment and enjoy the company of these little people that are part of your life and world. Yes, they will do things that will make your eyes swirl. Yes, you may lose your cool once in awhile, but remember, we always have another chance, with each breath, to try again. That is why we say we “practice” yoga. There is no perfect. When all else fails, lock yourself in the bathroom, take out that old box of Calgon and fill up the tub. Sink into those soft bubbles and be whisked away.
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