Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quid Pro Quo

It's a truth universally acknowledged that parents of all 4-year-olds threaten and negotiate and occasionally bribe their recalcitrant offspring to get them to do... anything. Anything you want them to do, anything they didn't think of themselves first. Because their initial response is usually some form of "no."
A good portion of my day passes in this way with Raina. (It's no wonder that I find her way more exhausting than my 16-month-old who's at this sweet and cooperative stage. Alas, this too shall pass.)
Today, Miz Raina turned the tables. Or attempted to.
We'd spent the morning at the park and while I was strapping in the kids to their car seats, Raina said, "My mouth is feeling bad." This is a typical prelude to a request for chewing gum. (Digression: The chewing gum is the sugar-free good-for-you kind, but she doesn't know that. If she did, of course, she'd request candy 24/7.)
"No, Raina, you aren't getting any gum," I responded, trying to nip the request in the bud.
"But I want some!" said Raina in her perfected whine.
"Nope. You get gum only as treat and you haven't done anything today to get it. You take a nap, you'll get some," I said.
Raina folded her arms about her and exclaimed, "I'm going to be so mad."
"Feel free," I invited.
And then came The Threat.
"If you don't give me gum, I won't draw pictures for you at school anymore," she said.
Trying hard not to laugh, I said, "That doesn't work with moms, sweetie. It only works with kids."
After a while, I added, "I really like your pictures though."
"Well, I'll draw you some when it's May," she mollified.
Let's see if she sticks to her resolve.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Yoga Epiphanies

My favorite asana in yoga is the shav-asan. Literally translated, the dead body pose.
And it's not just because I'm such a lazy bones, but because of these thoughts that course in my head during that time. Thoughts that aren't really supposed to be there in the first place as the aim of shav-asan is to have reached that point where my mind is empty of all thoughts, all the noise of living, the bad and the good. The 90 minutes of physical activity that precede the shav-asan, where I push and pull myself "beyond my flexibility" are all leading up to this, the most important of all the poses.
However, anyone who's tried meditating in any form knows it's hard. Emptying the mind of thoughts requires practice. Since I'm at the beginner level (a level I've been at for several years now), I instead let my mind drift. And sometimes, just as the oxygen flows into my brain while I breathe evenly in and out, my mind opens to new thoughts, new perspectives.
The other day during shav-asan, I was looking at a statue of the Nataraj that was placed in a corner of my local Bikram Yoga studio. I have looked at a similar statue for most of my life. In fact, I have one at home. But I think I really looked at it for the first time that day. I observed not only the grace and beauty of the pose, but also the majesty and the dignity. And I thought, here's an example of how one should live one's life. With balance, and beauty and above all, with one's head held high. Not with pride, but with a poise borne out of graceful effort.
Late this morning, my thoughts followed me home from the yoga studio. I was feeling pleasantly tired. After a long bath, I tucked Raina next to my napping husband (Rohan was already down for his afternoon nap), and fighting the urge to join them in bed, I headed downstairs to cook. And as I began prepping for coriander chicken, I let my mind drift. I could've taken a quick nap, I thought. But right now, the kids are asleep, it's really the best time to cook. And I thought a mite wistfully of the time prior to the kids, when during the weekend or a holiday, I could've napped when I wanted. And I let myself wonder what I would feel like today if Raina and Rohan hadn't been. If I'd just gotten back from a yoga class, what I would've done.
I was shocked out of my stupor by how empty I felt.
I know there's more to life than having kids. I know lots of couples who are my age and still don't have any. Some don't even plan to procreate, and that's fine by me. I'm not big on lecturing people on how to live.
But it seems to me that having kids has given my life a purpose it had lacked. I'm not a very ambitious person, but even I'm surprised as to how meaningless my life prior to mommyhood seems now. I remember being quite happy: I was working in a job I enjoyed with people I liked. It wasn't terribly challenging, but it was alright. I was happily married and working on acquiring a sense of responsibility (read: trying to cook and clean).
But being a mother, this is my life's work. Where I'm constantly challenged to be more patient, more knowledgeable, more loving. Where what I do has real, tangible consequences. Where I AM indispensable. What life role could be more satisfying?
Is this biology talking? Maybe it's material for another yoga session.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

All Those Who're Tired of Reading About Michael Phelps...

... say "aye." OK, young man got caught with bong. It happens. The best of us have taken a whiff. And this country's even had a popular president who admitted he "smoked" pot but "didn't inhale." So why go after Phelps? He maybe an 8-time Olympic champion, but he's 23. Fact is, the American media and public like their demigods. And when the gods show they're all too human, it reflects on them for putting their "idols" up on that unworthy pedestal in the first place. They SHOULD be mad at themselves. So go rant in some quiet corner about the unfairness of life. Don't bore us.