Monday, December 06, 2010
Dora, Breathing and Other Life Lessons
Christmas is in 19 days. In one fell swoop November ended, December began, and we were thrust head-first into holiday mode. We've decorated, we've shopped, we've ordered Christmas cards. We've hung the tree, the stockings, and the advent calendar. We've started the Jesse tree. We've made paper snowflakes, we've gone to the company Christmas party. We've mailed holiday cards to soldiers.
And I feel...
It's not the kind of tired you feel when you're running around all crazy, stressed and frazzled and trying to do too much. I think far too many people turn the holidays into some sort of competition - even if it's just a competition with themselves - a race to see who can stretch themselves the furthest, and push themselves the hardest. Out-shop, out-gift, out-decorate, out-spend, out-party. It's a race I have no interest in joining. No, my fatigue comes from the simple fact that life is busy with four kids, and as much as I try to live in the moment, try to find peace and stillness no matter what's going on around me, I get caught up and forget how. More than that, I simply forget to breathe.
It seems crazy to me that one can forget to do something as basic (and important!) as breathing properly, and yet I do. One of the things I love about yoga is that it forces me to breathe again... to concentrate on breathing, to calm everything down again, to return to the moment and be able to say, "Ah yes, that feels better." But because not every moment lends itself to the feasibility of spontaneously breaking out into a downward dog, I have to find other ways to return to that place of calm, other ways to remember to breathe.
My kids don't seem to have that problem. They are almost always in the moment, almost always happy. They know that life isn't just about the little things, but that life IS the little things. That's where the happiness is. Not in money or toys or "stuff," but in the little things. In the moment. In the breathing.
A few days ago, Tegan was sitting on my lap at the kitchen table, playing with Moon Sand. Now as any parent can tell you, Moon Sand is cool, but messy. Really messy. But I already had the trash can out, along with the dust pan and broom, because I'd swept up the bits of paper from snowflake-making earlier. I'd clean up the Moon Sand, then move onto the kitchen, which still held most of the mess from the cookie-making we'd done during our play date. There were dishes to be done too, and I had to rinse out Everett's little medicine cup, because he'd need another dose soon. I'd taken him to the dentist for a tooth extraction just the day before, and while it was healing fine, I wanted to be sure we kept up with his after-care. We'd have to think about dinner at some point, and I wanted to try to go to bed fairly early, because I was to babysit at 7:00 A.M. the next morning.
My mind was focused on a million insignificant things. I was sitting with Tegan, but I wasn't there. I wasn't breathing.
"Shhhhhhhhhhh." The girl put her little finger to my lips. Had she heard my racing mind?
"Shhhhhhhhhhh," she said again, in a whisper. "Dora's sleeping."
I made sure to lower my voice before asking, "Where?"
"In here. This is her castle. She was tired from picking blueberries with Boots, so she's sleeping."
And just like that, I was breathing again. I. Love. These. Kids.
Being invited to share in a child's imagination trumps messes. It's more important than clean kitchens, and what we have for dinner, and whether or not I get my 8 hours of sleep. Even though my body was there, I wasn't being present, and she ever-so-gently brought me back to the beauty of the moment... the moment of just being, and playing, and breathing. Together. It wasn't the first time she'd done it, and I imagine it won't be the last. I thank God for these kids, and what they continually teach me. For some reason, they don't need that reminder that adults might need. They know how to live in the moment, and they know how to find peace.
And it's even better than downward dog.