When I saw the other parents in the room at my daughter’s last dance class of the session, I froze. What were they all doing in there? I was supposed to be on a phone call! I mean, I could have figured we might be invited in at the end of class, but from the first moment?
My first reaction was annoyance, and it lasted further into the class than I am happy to admit. I quickly messaged the person I was supposed to interview, who was gracious, all full of “LOL” and “no problem.” I figured that, as a mom, she would get it. But still! I really wanted to get that interview done so that I could finally finish the piece the following morning. I didn’t want to wait until later because the afternoon was busy and the day after that was slammed. If there’s anything that messes up trying to be working-at-home-mom, it’s improper sequencing!
It wasn’t just frustration about missing the call, or me being caught of guard. It was my daughter also being caught off guard – the two of us together. I would have liked to prepare my daughter for my presence in the class. She was kind of a mess, so darn excited that I was there! She kept getting distracted from the teacher’s directions, looking over at me, mouthing “video” so I would record her. I was embarrassed.
Then, the second time she came over to hug me, smile beaming, I caught myself. Why am I sitting her annoyed at my daughter’s joy? Am I really going to look back on this 45 minutes and be glad that I was pissed off, or will I wish I just enjoyed it? Shit, she’s only five. She’s not going to be this blissfully happy and open forever. And right now she is actually Glad. To. Have. Me. Here. She is happy to be in this moment, even if she wasn’t expecting it. Why can’t I join her there?
It struck me that this, in fact, is my practice. The call I was supposed to have was with the founder of the National Kids Yoga Conference so that I could finally write a recap of the amazing weekend she organized November 13-15. The non-profit organization she co-founded is YoKid, which is all about giving children the tools to live a mindful life. And here I was making that life wrong.
“Was there an email about this?” I had asked the woman next to me, who said not recently, but that the email at the beginning of the session had mentioned parents could come in at the last one. Instead of enjoying watching my daughter frolic around the room, I’d been wondering if that email had gone to my husband, whose name is on our county registration, instead of to me. I was prematurely mad at him for not forwarding something I wasn’t even sure he had gotten, or that I hadn’t. Maybe I just hadn’t read it correctly.
But all these other parents seemed to know! I sat there thinking I would search my email later at home and if this wasn’t spelled out, I would email the organizer of the classes and let her know she really should warn people about this. I mean, a few minutes at the end is one thing, but sitting in the mirrored room for the whole class? Normally, if my husband hadn’t been working from home that day, I’d have needed to bring my son along. There was a boy doing his homework, but mine couldn’t have focused. And on the flip side, maybe if he’d known it was just a show, he would have done his homework early and wanted to come along!
On and on went the purposeless inner dialogue until my daughter came over with a second smile-filled second hug. And then on came one of those Eva Cassidy-like versions of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” during which the girls were supposed to leap over colored squares on the ground. They were leaping. For joy. I almost started sobbing.
This is why mindfulness is important to cultivate regularly: because it brings you back to where you are. If I had a regular meditation practice going, I probably could have taken a deep breath and walked into that room to enjoy the whole experience instead of spending the first half of it huffing. I would have acknowledged my frustration and moved along instead of needing to see with it for such an extended period of time.
One thing is certain. I will remember my daughter’s smiles from this class, and I will remember what my frowns taught me about how I choose to live my life. We do not always get to choose what happens to us, but we do get to choose how to respond to it. It just so happens that what we practice, we are better at, and we tend to choose it more. So the more I practice frustration, the easier it will come to me. The more I practice contentment and acceptance, the easier that will come to me.
The land you dream of doesn’t have to be just in a lullaby. It can be – it is – the one you choose to create.
I’m working on it.