An Art of Living – Day 1

Today’s host is a homemaker.
And the asana is any arm balance.
I chose Scales. 

Many years ago the doctor told me the best thing I could do for my mental health was to keep a routine. Take the mornings predictably, and slowly.

So since my kids hit their teens, I have been up early to run, write and do meditation. And for the past year, I have included a morning flow sequence.

How I wish I had done this when my children were young. I’ve spent most of my life – all of my adult life – obsessively attempting to be productive. The unquestioned belief being that my life would be of value only if I left something important behind; that I am somehow required to justify my time on earth by creating works of art. On days, and during months scattered with rejection slips from publishers, I’d rethink my life’s choices and feel obligated to toss my humanity degrees and get a nursing degree, or a counselling certification: the kind of thing that makes a person valuable, makes them the kind of person who can sign up with Médecins Sans Frontières and do good in the world.

I wasn’t a workaholic in the traditional sense, but I held down a full-time teaching job and did freelance translation work in my spare time the entire time my children lived at home. My then-husband earned much more than I did in his job and, since we had a shared economy, that always made me feel inadequate.

We say we don’t want to make the mistakes our parents made. But even when we manage to avoid those, we make own own. One of mine was not believing that I was enough. 

They say that we are never actually conscious of the present. We can only consider the past: by the time an experience is registered along neural pathways, the experience is paste tense. There is no contemplated here.

I spent too much of my attention evaluating the immediate past tense. I spent a lifetime overthinking instead of being in the moment.

Today I heard a Tricycle talk with Pico Iyer. He says that in Japan a perfect date is when two people spend time together and do not talk.

I wish I had spent less time talking with my children.

It feels odd to say out loud, but I loved those times when the kids were small and just a little ill – too sick for school or roughhousing, but nothing worrying. Those hours just curled-up together quietly.

Of course then women, who were the age I am now, told me how important it was to cherish the time I had with the kids since “they grow up so fast”. But no one can really explain how to do that, can they? No one can explain what it is to just be. And to trust that that is enough. In fact: that is everything.

Finding a balance is difficult. And we have a tendency to want to measure it all in order to get it right. Did I do more good than harm? Was I enough of an example of what not to do perhaps?

Maybe my kids won’t make my mistakes with their own offspring – in their own relationships… Is that a bit of self-serving thinking?

When I consider how I was as a homemaker, I can only hope that I made them feel that home is where they could be themselves, and that being themselves is always enough.

I'd love to read whatever thoughts this might spark for you.

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