It’s an interesting vantage point, standing on one foot in front of a room full of other people standing on one foot. We are beautiful athletic flamingos in a yoga class.
From my view up front I see how different everyone appears in the same posture: one person’s leg is straight in front of them, anther’s knee is bending at an angle. One person is a leaning tower of Pisa to the left; another sways slow-motion, like a tower in the wind.
And none of them are wrong.
I get the question repeatedly, “Am I doing this right? Is this what the pose supposed to look like?” from the class members. Sometimes I do this as a mom. Is this what a deliberate, fun, inspired mother does?, I think. What does she look like? What about that mom over there- am I supposed to be doing that?
The answer I give my yoga participants? “It it is not what a posture looks like. It’s what it feels like.” All of our bodies are different: muscle length, bone structure, spinal alignment- no two Triangle poses will ever look the same. And it isn’t the appearance of a posture we’re going after- it’s the lengthening sensation in a specific muscle group. That’s something one has to “see” from the inside; the posture is a process, not a goal. We don’t jam ourselves in Triangle and call it good.
Mothering is the same way: we can’t jam ourselves in a mommy mold, hoping we finally got it right. Measures of progress and “success” in mothering do not necessarily look a certain way. We can feel the joy, however. We experience soul stretching as our patience is lengthened, or the expansion of our mothering skills as we tread new waters. We grow in tenderness and understanding with a child; these kind of wins are not necessarily visible to the eye, and yet they are the most satisfying to the mother heart.
How can you attempt your own “Mother Pose”?
Play to your strengths. Trust that your interests and talents are worth sharing with your children. It doesn’t matter what you share! Show the children your passion for anything meaningful to you; teaching it will come naturally with your enthusiasm.
Don’t be shy or embarrassed. (My children burst out laughing at me the first time they saw me Latin dancing in front of the bathroom mirror.) There are no talent police and you’re not in a popularity contest; in fact, deliberate mothering is often unsophisticated and messy.
Embrace your interests. Your children will learn how to learn from this, one of the greatest gifts we can translate. They will see you as a ‘real person’ experiencing joy. This will give them permission to pursue their own courses of study and activity with confidence. Most importantly you will be sharing what only you have to offer- yourself. And that’s what your children need.
Evaluate your purpose. When people are new to yoga, the question regarding what they’re supposed to be trying to do with their bodies is a valid one. It always serves me well to evaluate the purpose of the endeavor I am undertaking: then my mind and body know what to focus on and I start to become. But when I lose my sense of purpose it becomes so easy to feel lost in a class or think my mothering efforts are pointless. Remember that purposeful mothering is a process, not a goal. “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” says Zig Ziglar.
Let go of comparison. In attempting my own “Mother Pose” I need to let go of the comparisons I make to other moms. It’s one thing to be inspired by someone’s example; that’s the essence of The Power of Moms. But then there are those times I’m leading my life with fear and comparing myself to other mothers, making them my competition. “Oh man, her leg is higher than mine!” in yoga might translate to something in real mom life like “If your kids are better readers, ‘better behaved,’ or your jeans are a smaller size, then I’m dog food.”
What a lie! You are wonderful. You are enough. Your “mother pose” in unique and of great worth. In fact, it is of infinite worth– your children were sent to you for a reason. What you have to offer them is what their souls need.
QUESTION: What are some interests you have that excite you? How could you start to incorporate more of your talents and interests into your daily life? In what ways may you be trying to fit into a “mom mold”?
CHALLENGE: Ask a husband, relative or close friend to list the unique strengths you possess that are a blessing to your family. Make a list of interests or activities that really fire up your mind and heart: perhaps reading, singing, writing, dancing, studying, crafts, physical activities, yodeling, games, sketching, socializing, serving. If it’s been a long time, what did you used to enjoy? Give yourself permission to pursue these interests on a regular basis. Introduce them to your children within the week. If you’re children are older and roll their eyes a bit, keep at it and surround yourself with friends who believe in you. Be genuinely interested in your children’s interests: listen to them talk, ask open-ended questions, learn about the topic.