I simply cannot be the only one who is both outraged and enamored by my smartphone. I mean, I am fairly certain there was some sorcery involved with the inception of the smartphone. Those dang tiny red circles that pop up nagging at me and suddenly I am swiping my way into my facebook to find that my second cousins, uncles girlfriends daughters best friend who I met at a Christmas party four years ago had spaghetti for dinner...because it matters to the quality of my life. Then I am sucked into the vortex. My phone is so demanding on me. But, it is a catch 22, I am reliant and grateful for social media, it has been awesome for my businesses, and connections matter to me. I love the ability to stay connected to friends I would have lost in the busyness of modern life. But...the demand it places on my mind, the way my phone nags at me...is really too much sometimes.
Those of us who are parents, you hear me, we already feel the constant demands of the big world and the little world we call family. We are conditioned to tolerate the endless requests (aka demands) placed upon us all day long. The closer we've gotten to the “threes”, the more demanding the voice of my little one has became. Listen, I love being a mom. Yep, I am one of those people. I think it is just in my DNA. Perhaps it is partly because at this point, I have “only one,” but quite frankly I love it. So when the mommy requests keep coming, most often, I truly want to come play, or help, or do.
That being said, on occasion, there are things that need to happen that do not involve, Calico Critters, Lego ice-cream parlor, or our endless collection of tiny things (including a wide assortment of not alive bugs). Let me also be clear, many of the things that need to be done are not things I want to do, in particular, cleaning or laundry. I am not a skilled housewife. I do of course have skills, but those did not make the list.
In my endless googling (thank you smartphone) and blog reading, I recently came across a parenting article that discussed the idea of breathing in and breathing out as it relates to raising children. As a yoga instructor, this piqued my interest. This woman was speaking my language. The premise is that in order for our children to play alone more successfully we have to balance our time breathing into them. We must spend time engaging, giving them our undivided attention to fill them up. You see children know what we grown-ups have forgotten, we are ALL hardwired for connection. It is as vital as air. When we offer our child our presence, when we connect, it is then that they can successfully breathe out, play alone! YES!
Often when giving my little one my divided attention and half-ass responses, she will say to me, “Mom, don’t say cool” or “Mom, don’t say interesting.” Which is to say, mom, give me an authentic response because I know you are not frickin’ listening to me. And she is right. I am not authentically engaging with her. I am simply sitting there with my mind elsewhere and she is not buying it.
So, this got me thinking, how many other places in my adult life am I expecting to breathe out when I have not sufficiently breathed in? On the mat, you cannot keep exhaling without giving yourself the space and consciousness to inhale deeply. Often in class the inhales are the most neglected part of the breath (and the practice as a whole). Students exhale till the cows come home and then suck their breath in so fast and hard, as if they are just trying to get through it instead of softening around the inhale. Sound familiar? We want to do our own thing, be independant, get shit done, but we have consciously, intentionally breathe in.
Life is hard. We know this; life puts strains on the most important relationships in our lives. If I am not inhaling into my relationship with my hersband, my daughter, my friends, my life becomes even harder and more isolated. I have an assorted collection of people I adore, I don’t see them often, but when I do, I engage and and we can exhale back into to our everyday lives. In the monotony of everyday life, I know I need to more carefully invest in the people I hold most dear, because I also ask more from them and life is a lot more “real” day in and day out. I simply must take the time to open heartedly breathe into them.
For a few weeks, I was hashing this concept out. I spent hours yammering on about it in class at the studio, and then life happened, as it does. Shit hit the fan at home and I was like, oh yeah, this is that thing I’ve been talking about…I need to breathe in. I need to inhale into this most important relationship if I want it to survive, which I most definitely do. G (my hersband) and I are both fiercely independent people so it is entirely too easy for us both to keep doing our own thing, live our lives out running circles around each other without taking the time to connect, intentionally. When this goes on to long, we have found ourselves in a place that neither one of us feels good about. We have found ourselves out of breath, out of patience and disconnected.
Anyone who is a parent can appreciate this truth. Unless of course, you’ve got it all together. Which I happen to know, for a fact, not one of us on this entire planet has got it “all together.” Some of us are simply better at pretending. I do not fall into that category.
If your experience reflects mine, then there you are, in the middle of this adventure called parenting and all of a sudden the center of your Universe shifts and there is this little being (or maybe more than one) who has now stolen the limelight. I had total tunnel vision caring for, worrying about, and investing my time and energy into her. I of course, will continue to do all those things. But, the role of parent and wife are not mutually exclusive, I can and must breathe into both. (Sidenote: No you did not miss the wedding, the law just passed, give us a minute). When I choose to engage and connect in a meaningful way, with my whole heart and my presence, I can feel the energy shift at home. A little goes a long way, that is when the connection is free from televisions, smartphones, or any other mind-numbing distraction. I have to remind myself to do it. It is crazy that sometimes I have to remember to participate in my own stinkin’ life.
I have to breathe into everything important to me, because if I exhale for too long, I will run out of breath and the things that matter most will suffer and eventually suffocate.