Mother's Work · Motherhood · Parenting · Self-Care · Toddlers

Getting in my own way

Today is one of those days where every step feels heavy. Something is always blocking my path. The snowy boots on the towels positioned in front of the dishwasher. Kids. My own dirty glasses, or my unwieldy hair. Every step and turn feels effortful – not tiring, not painful, just slow and hard, as though I’m wading through silly putty. About a year and a half ago, when I was dealing with severe back pain and about to undergo back surgery, I read somewhere how we often carry unnecessary tension in our bodies while doing completely mundane things, like driving. This tension increases our feelings of stress and unease, and makes our life harder than it needs to be. We end up getting in our own way. If we could only find all of the possible opportunities for rest in the day, rather than for tension, we’d feel so much better by the end of the day. I know it, because I do have those days once in a while. But today is not one of them.

In addition, it’s an opt-against instead of an opt-for kind of day. I opted against showering while the kids were in school; against starting the laundry while they were in school; against caring very much how I look today; against accomplishing some things on my ever-present to-do list that would have been easy to accomplish, if I’d only opted to remember them.

On a brighter note, I have found a guide who helps me find the ease in life instead of the tension. Her name is Leslie Riley, and she is my yoga teacher. I heard about her through my occasional massage therapist, Igor at Wilmette Massage. I proceeded to schedule a private session with Leslie first, as I am particular about yoga teachers and their approach. Leslie has become my saving grace. She brings a perfect blend of caring and practicality to her Iyengar method. I now attend class with her every Sunday. Even if there are 20 people in the class, she attends to you as though it were a private lesson. She remembers and is concerned about your injuries, and her goal is for us to learn new skills and habits that we can apply outside of the yoga studio. One of her favorite things to say is that we are trying to find “the easiest, most efficient, and most effective” ways to move our bodies. On days like today, I just have to think of Leslie and her teachings, and start relaxing my body, one muscle at a time.

If I look at my opt-against day another way, one could say that I have decided to make things easier rather than effortful by just choosing to say ‘no’. So maybe I’m approaching today in exactly the way my body would like me to.

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