Weeks Three and Four: I’m Still Standing

Cue: “I’m Still Standing” (inter-change with “I’m Still Napping”)

Okay, I’m sure Elton John didn’t write this as a feminist mommy manifesto, but right now that’s all I can think of: I’m still standing (and napping!).

Its been quite the two weeks. Hubby is now gone nineteen days. On day nine I commented to the kids at breakfast, “Wow, it doesn’t feel like he’s been gone for more than a day!” (especially with Skype). But oh how quickly  it can all change. Now it feels like Tim’s been away for months and I’m living in a dream-like state, a parent-version of “this is your life,” complete with twists to the grocery store, turns to the laundry room, sibling arguments at 6am over whether DC United won against AC Milan, and then…finally…deep breath…naps on my yoga nidra bed that make me sane in the mist of my curious quest for balance.

I even twisted as far as buying a pack of Gluten-free english muffins at my local Whole Foods. Let me save you the trip to the store: they were like eating a piece of cardboard on hormones.

My new mantra to the kids for the past two weeks has been: “feed the feminine.” Mommy’s got to ‘feed the feminine’ – give to my feminine need to slow down, have some alone time – and that means there are times when I won’t be available. Yoga nidra nap time is one of them (this is pretty well established, although I’m still a little suspicious of what they’re doing while I’m napping because they seem too happy about me going off for a nap). The other ‘feed the feminine’ need I have is for them to go to bed at 8pm. Okay, 8.30pm at the max.

“But I want you to keep reading ‘Battle of the Labyrinth’,” Jacob pleaded with me at 8.22pm Tuesday night.

Nope. Gotta ‘feed the feminine’.

“Can you name the top three soccer players I love in the world and I know you’re going to say Wayne Rooney so you have to name four,” Aden began at 8.27pm that same night.

Nope. Gotta ‘feed the feminine‘, I said pointing to the clock.

“Awe, mom!” they respond in unison.

But by 8.30pm I’m closing doors and thankful for this mantra.

Yet even with this mantra and yoga nidra weeks three and four of my one-year (!) commitment to nap has been full. Maybe it’s due to my college-student neighbors who just graduated and had another all-night party Saturday night (my only night to sleep in) resulting in me calling the police twice and finally falling asleep around 3.15am. I used to have compassion for them, remembering the days when I was a college student drinking and doing irresponsible things and how it’s a right of passage for every student…but this week I’m every bit the 43-year-old mother of two boys who doesn’t want to hear a sound other than a cricket after 9pm.

My fullness could be the mad-dash of last Tuesday afternoon…dropping Aden off at his guitar lesson, getting Jacob a bike helmet, dropping him home, and going food shopping…all in 25 minutes. There really should be a prize for mothering moments like this. Or at least oxygen at the finish line.

Or maybe it’s my day last Wednesday. Yes, I think it’s my day on Wednesday that put me totally over the edge. It started with a bad Internet connection on Skype with Tim in Bangladesh (he left the erupting civil war in Thailand a week ago and flew to Bangladesh… where there has been a civil war in full swing for a few years!). I should have known a bad Internet connection meant the day wasn’t going to go well. We had an agenda of “critical things to talk about” a page long – what to do about Jacob’s $730 Lego birthday list, whether to put in an application to rent a nearby house – but that would have to wait because I could only hear the first word in each of his sentences.

After that the day spiraled: proof-read article; sent other article off for writer friend to read; popped out to see a house for rent that meets all our practical needs but is too expensive and I don’t love it energetically yet we’ve been looking for 6 months to move so maybe I just need to chuck the energy crap and fork out the extra money; find out house already has 2 qualified applicants (so why the “F” am I looking?); panic that I’m destined to live beside college students throwing wild parties for the next year; get home and take yoga nidra nap; feel great and eat lunch calmly outside in the sunshine; pick up my new Apple Macbook Pro to take it to my office; drop Macbook Pro; drop water I’m holding on Macbook Pro; curse wildly; try to boot Macbook pro and the (expletive) computer won’t turn on; call my mother to rant; call local Apple store to make a 6.15pm appointment at their ‘Genius Bar’ which is the most conceited way of saying ‘customer service’ that I know; curse more; now without a computer, decide to drive to the only other house in our price range for rent, a small Victorian house with an ‘English garden’ in an area of DC that reminds me of Amsterdam, bicycles everywhere, corner store, park and swimming pool half a block away; parking sucks and yet I love it; it’s fun, funky, sunny…and totally not kid practical; fantasize I’m single without kids; go into the corner store which sells everything from candy bars to fresh cheeses and wine; fall deeper in love; realize I better get my ass out of there if I’m going to make it to pick up Aden from school; get Aden who talks about the soccer world cup all the way home; Jacob arrives home breathing fire because he wants a grape frozen fruit bar and I could only find strawberry; Aden has a strawberry frozen fruit bar which pisses Jacob off, whose sitting in the corner eating peanut butter on a rice cake complaining that Aden is sucking on his fruit bar too loudly; this triggers me into the Happy Police For Jacob (he has so many challenges being dyslexic, right?) so I decide to let them turn on the taped finale of Dancing With the Stars; Jacob is now happy; go back to see if my computer boots up and it does, but the computer now thinks it’s December 2008 so no files show up beyond that time; oh, and my word documents for the article I’m writing have not saved the correct version; more cursing; make sure Aden has everything he needs for going with his friend to the DC United game tonight; help out mother who can’t drive soccer carpool because of her daughter’s wedding-size bat mitzvah on Saturday; take Aden and friends to soccer; realize one friend left school early and his mother is the one who’s supposed to pick up kids so by the side of the soccer field; quickly email moms about this; then email mom taking Aden to soccer game with last-minute items; drive like a wild woman home to be on a 5pm work call; arrive at 4.58pm; tell Jacob he can do his 30 minutes on the computer; at 5.10pm wonder why I haven’t received a call yet; at 5.15pm check my work email and discover at 3pm she sent me an email canceling because she’s (expletive) sick; tell Jacob he needs to get off the computer and we need to get our (expletive) to the Apple store so I can meet the ‘Genius’ who’s going to help me sort out my computer; drive to Apple store with Jacob talking nonstop about the Geicko commercial; enter Apple store; Jacob rushes over to the iPad; I smile brightly at all the blue t-shirted Apple geeks, feeling nothing but sunshine that my troubles are about to end; then, as I walk to the ‘Genius Bar’ a seven year old girl flips her hands in an aggressive backstroke motion…into my yoni (yes, she hit me in my v-spot!); loud scream by me; nothing to do by laugh so hard Jacob picked his head up from the iPad and smiled and the Apple guys in blue chuckled too; we’re 15minutes early so I take (no, drag) Jacob out of the store to get pizza; we’re in expensive downtown Bethesda and all we can find is a Dominos pizza; I cringe and we walk in; Jacob eats his pizza telling me he was Google mapping Bangladesh on the iPad (all I can think is how did he manage to spell Bangladesh?); we return to the Apple store; I meet my Genius named Greg at the Genius Bar; Greg clearly loves the Apple computer; I don’t love the computer, but after he changes my settings and sorts out the Word problem with my documents I sure do love Greg; he offer to  fix some other issues with my computer, transferring files into the right place, trying to figure out how to sync my Entourage with iCalendar; I’m now digging the Genius Bar, fantacizing what it would be like to be married to a Genius and not have to drag my ten-year-old at 6pm to the Apple store; I look over and see Jacob is playing an alligator game on a $2,000 computer screen; pleasure (okay, relative) abounds; we leave and top the evening off with ice cream at Giffords ice cream parlor; the computer is fixed, Jacob is fed, we’re on a way home and it’s only 7pm; bliss, bliss, bliss…until…”Mom! I’m going to throw up!”; okay, well, Jacob is slightly lactose intolerant and he just had pizza and ice cream; the ‘bad mother’ tape plays in my head as we drive home, Jacob begging me not to press on the break because it hurts his tummy; at home a bath soothes his body; we read; he goes to bed before 8.30pm; I stay up until Aden returns home at midnight from the soccer game; at 12.30am the day is over; exhale.

It may seem like a miracle, but I managed to go to Robin’s noontime yoga nidra class during this two week period. Her theme that day was “welcoming” and boy did I need it. How can we welcome situations that we do not want? Days that seem out-of-control-busy? Feelings that are just too hard to sit with?

I want to share the poem Robin used at the beginning of the yoga nidra session.

Unconditional ~ by Jennifer Wellwood

Willing to experience aloneness,

I discover connection everywhere;

Turning to face my fear,

I meet the warrior who lives within;

Opening to my loss,

I gain the embrace of the universe;

Surrendering into emptiness,

I find fullness without end.

Each condition I flee from pursues me,

Each condition I welcome transforms me

And becomes itself transformed

Into its radiant jewel-like essence.

I bow to the one who has made it so,

Who has crafted this Master Game.

To play it is purest delight;

To honor its form–true devotion.

– Jennifer Welwood

Here’s the lines that caught my attention:

“Each condition I flee from pursues me,

Each condition I welcome transforms me”

Over and over again this proves to be true for me. When I flee busyness, busyness pursues me, when I welcome it I change, unfold, feel stronger, grow taller.

It has been an interesting three weeks with Tim away and practicing yoga nidra every day. Normally on Day Nineteen of him being away I am not breathing. I am shriveled up in the mud beneath the tree, soaking in my “poor me” sorrows. Poor me, I don’t get a break from the kids; poor me, I have to unload the dishwasher; poor me, I’m folding laundry by myself. I don’t ‘feed the feminine’, I push away any feelings of despair and as a result I always feel worse.

But this time things are different. Every time I’m about to flee from a condition I don’t want to feel yoga nidra invites me to welcome it…and I feel better.

Robin’s class came at just the right time. I decided to welcome my feelings around creating a permanent home for our family because after three years we are still not in a permanent home and my struggle with this has felt like madness at times. During Robin’s class I welcomed the feelings I am having around home. It was interesting what I found – a grey cloud, a deep sigh. It was very hard to hold. But almost immediately upon recognizing this something incredible happened, I was in a house surrounded by glass walls with bright sun shining through. I could feel transformation at work and woke from my yoga nidra nap for the first time believing that we will find a home.

The next day I jumped on Craigslist convinced my movie-like ending would arrive. No such luck. Nothing. A few days later I wrote in my journal, “PLEASE GOD, HELP ME FIND A HOUSE! (is my house karma that bad?)”. And, like it was scripted, the next day Tim (who is now in Senegal via Dubai and Istanbul) sent me two urgent messages that he found a house on Craigslist that posted after I had gone to bed. This was it, I told myself. I went to see it that afternoon and it was the house I always wanted. I thanked God in my journal that night and put in an application the next day.

That morning as I’m finishing off the application we get a call from a house we had a long history with. We loved it, they offered it to us, we didn’t take it because we found something else, we didn’t get the other house so we went back to them but by then they had rented their house so we had lost both houses. (see what I mean about bad house karma?).  They were calling to tell us their renters bailed on them the day of signing the lease so they were now offering us the house. But I had just put an application in on another house. We exchanged emails but I decided to wait and hear about the perfect house I just put an application in on because in my mind that house was meant to be.

I’m sure you can guess now that we didn’t get that perfect house. I found out while standing outside a mall at 9am yesterday, on a day that was already 80 degrees and humid, checking my email while I was waiting for the Lego store to open to get my son’s birthday present. I never once thought not getting this house was possible until the night before when suddenly the thought entered my mind. And it was okay; not only okay, but more than okay. The house that was meant to be wasn’t meant to be. When I welcomed this thought, my body felt calm.

I accepted the other house immediately and we got it!  We should sign the lease this Saturday. (after Tim gets off a 6.40am flight from Senegal). And, best of all, they are throwing a party for us to get to know their fabulously close-knit neighbors. I already know one family that lives two doors down has boys exactly my sons’ ages. It takes a village and I think I’ve found one.

Welcoming…breathing…interspersed with so much on the “to-do” list these passed two weeks these are the themes I held on to. These are the themes that have anchored me. Every time I sit and listen to Robin’s voice it brings me back into my body and I’m thankful. It’s so easy to forget that. As Robin says at the end of her 22-minute practice:

You are the unchanging presence at the center of it all. Feel that.

I’ve done yoga nidra these past two weeks in the basement on a blow up, in my bed, on the couch and one night over Memorial Day weekend after a full day at the pool and without 22 consecutive minutes to spare I split it up and did the CD until the pizza delivery came, got the kids settled with pizza and then finished up. I’ve needed it that badly. It’s my oxygen at the moment.

Tim returns this Saturday and while  I expect the extra help will be nice it’s also exceptional to know that for the first time without him “I’m still standing” (and napping!).


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