My big kid was acting like a jerk this morning. Bullying and intimating her sister. Hogging the ipad. Ignoring me when I asked her to clean her room.
My usual well of motherly patience (snort) finally ran the hell dry and I snatched the offending iPad from her hands and (don’t tell my husband) threw it up on a shelf out of reach.
But I’ve been reading about yoga lately (which is like dancing about architecture, I know) and something unusual came over me. Instead of yelling and freaking out at my obstinate child at her like I do on every other day, I said the following:
“You are going to have a punishment. You are going to do yoga with me.”
Cue an immediate tantrum of the temper variety. Big Girl dug in her heels and cried until her face turned as red as her hair. But I got out the mats anyway, and pointed my well-chewed fingernail toward the floor.
“You don’t have to do the poses perfectly,” I said. “But you do have to do yoga without whining and with joy in your heart.” I paused, thinking about how mean she was to her little sister earlier. “And with kindness and good intention toward those people in your life who love you.” A tall order for an 8-year-old, I know.
Whimper. Stomp. Resist. Sulk. Pout. Cross arms. Glare.
“If you can do this with me, I will let you have the iPad back,” I sighed.
She got on the mat.
Seemed like a fine fair trade for a ridiculous multi-tasking mom of 2011, who desperately needs the iPad in her kid’s hands so said mom can get to work at her freelance job of writing social media posts for well-paying corporations.
I needed that kid to get her fracking smile on during her asanas and earn back the app-spewing babysitter almost as much as I needed the yoga time for my own spiritual sanity.
We started the practice and I closed my eyes to breathe, taking in the good, clean air, expelling the dark, negative air. I pretend-smiled through my clenched jaw. Trying hard to be as peaceful and unbothered as Julie, an inspiring yogi (and mother of 3!) who first turned me on to Ashtanga some ten years ago.
I ran my kid through about ten sun salutations. Then a few forward bends. Warrior poses. All the while faking like this was the most fun girl-bonding time we had ever experienced. Inside I was pissed off, resentful, mad at my own daughter, and mad at myself for being mad at my child.
This is so yoga. This is what it’s about. I kept reminding myself. Go gentle. Let the thoughts wander in and out of your mind. Be here. Breathe.
I took the air in and out through my nose. I rooted my feet into the mat and pushed my shoulders back. One leg up. Arms above head. Simple tree pose.
Stay on your own mat, I inwardly screamed. I mean gently coaxed myself.
Next to me my eldest squealed like I was forcing her to work in a factory for 12 hours instead of participate in one of humanity’s most profound spiritual practices.
Then one of those superior parenting moments forced its ugly head through my fake veil of calm. I totally bugged out.
“Goddammit!” I barked. “Can you stop sniveling over there and try to find some joy in this!”
Lovely. Classic. I may as well have said, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” And, of course, this only made her cry harder.
I ignored her and moved on and inwardly continued to berate myself. Down on the mat for some inversions.
“Let’s do the half wheel first,” I said. “Then we’ll try the full wheel.”
And something lovely suddenly happened.
She stopped crying. She became alert and present. Fully focused and excited about doing half wheel with me. Then full wheel (which I will fully admit I hadn’t done in a lo-ong time and was personally thrilled that I didn’t throw out my shoulder or jack my back up.)
Then came supported headstands. Then full-on headstands. Me too! We actually did headstands together in the middle of my living room! Laughing, excited, proud of ourselves, we did real live headstands!
I kept thinking Holy shit it works! This is so yoga. Yoga is powerful!
Finally, I made her lie on the floor with me and do savasana (aka “corpse pose”) to close the practice. And three Om’s to round it out.
When all was said and done, she was peaceful, smiling, calm. We may be on to something here.
My now relaxed jaw dropped when she said, “I’m sorry Mom.” These words rarely escape the throat of my headstrong girl.
Then we abandoned our ancient practice and went back to 2011.
I gave her the iPad and went to work on writing copy for social media. How yoga of us.