Ask just about any mother—especially a working mother—how she balances her time.
She will probably tell you she just does it, or plans ahead or maybe she will roll her eyes and answer I don’t know. My answer falls in the latter category.
There are days when I crawl into bed and I just don’t know how I managed to get everything done that I did. Of course, soon after pulling the covers over my head the running list starts ticking away in my brain:
- Make the dentist appointment
- Schedule that oil change
- Stop at the grocery store after work
- Start planning child ___’s birthday party
- I need a haircut
- Child ___ needs a haircut
- Go to yoga?
In the flurry of every day, I get lost. As a mother—a working mother—the needs of everyone else take priority over the needs of oneself every time. It’s unavoidable, inevitable and inescapable. The issue is that when we continually throw ourselves on the bottom of the never ending “to-do” list, eventually the marathon busyness catches up. We end up—I end up—feeling drained and unable to give another ounce. Except even in that state of being drained, we do give, anyway.
Balance is the unattainable goal I am perpetually striving toward. Balance. Can I just find a little bit of balance?
So here I am at the yoga studio getting ready to give Tree pose a shot.
I can do this—it’s just standing on one leg, right? I find a spot to focus on, lift up my right foot and place it on my left inner thigh as high as I can. I press my foot in, firmly pull up with my left thigh and carefully let go of the wall, placing both hands in prayer. The success of getting this far feels great and so at this point I am confident to slowly raise my hands above my head. I wobble to and fro, but come to rest in Tree.
My teacher strides over and turns my hips slightly. This is good, she says, but you need to square your hips and open up this side here. I hadn’t realized that to attain this pose I had shifted my whole body on an angle. Once she adjusted my hips my knee points forward and my foot begins sliding bit by bit down my thigh. Pressing my foot in harder I feel my balance shift and I wobble right out of the pose.
I was thrown off balance.
The parallel lines I can draw from yoga to my life are blatant. It seems no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I plan or how early I get up I am forever being thrown off balance. The frustration that burns through my core from continually missing the mark seems to simmer again now. Why can’t I do it, I think. I’ll never be good enough or strong enough or flexible enough.I’m never enough.
The defeating feeling is overwhelming.
Other side, my teacher calls out. This time she instructs us to stand close to the wall and let our knees rest on the wall to gauge the angle of our hips. I find my center, lift my leg, rest my knee and place hands back in prayer. Hips, squared, knee—yes pointed forward—pushed out in an effort to open my hips. I breathe. I’m in Tree.
Feel your foot rooted to the ground and reach up with your hands, my teacher instructs. The word rooted rings in my head and reverberates throughout my body. Rooted. I’m hardly rooted. Endlessly in motion, I fly from place to place, moment to moment with hardly a pause. Suddenly I find myself conscious of my foot on the floor, my knee of the wall, my other foot firmly placed on my thigh.
My roots are my home, my practice, my morning coffee. They are my nighttime meditations, my books that are tucked under my arm on an errand or even the quiet pause right before the children awake. The key is to remind myself to be mindful of these roots and within them lies my center—my balance.
Balance is found only when the roots are all firmly in place.
So with this little piece of dawning enlightenment that has suddenly occurred to me while resting my knee on that pale, yellow wall in yoga, I know the feelings of not being good enough will most surely return at some point. I know without a doubt that life will have me thrown off balance again and probably soon. It’s unavoidable, inevitable and inescapable, for sure.
But at least this time I know to feel for my roots.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo Credit: elephant archives