Postures of Motherhood

"Mommy, help me." 

"Mommy, draw Grandpa." 

"Mommy, hold me, please." 

I have been sitting at my dining room table for two whole minutes trying to outline this essay and have already been interrupted by these three toddler demands, which bring to mind a certain extraordinary and universal power of motherhood: the ability to get through the day despite innumerable interruptions. 

Pregnancy - as I'm sure you're all aware - holds its own little disruptions. A little nausea, a little hunger, a little dizziness, a little exhaustion. And so, to help me cope, I have turned to what has in the past been a great defense: exercise. 

At my high elevation, I have sworn off the more strenuous activities, such as weightlifting and running, but I want to keep a certain tone and flexibility, so I ordered "Postures for Pregnancy" a Yoga videotape. 

As I waited for the video to arrive, I thought back to my yoga classes in college. Each Wednesday evening, I would walk home from campus in a state of physical and mental harmony. A space had opened up between my shoulder blades, precisely where I hold tension, and my head would levitate above my spinal column, bobbing in time with my body like a buoy on a quiet sea. 

Anxious as I was to achieve the same mind-body-spirit nirvana as I had in my pre-parent days, the video sat in its shrinkwrap for a few days on the VCR, where I would look at it longingly. Oh, to have my head float again! But Cassie was sick and pretty well attached to my left hip, day and night. 

When, at last, I inaugurated the video, Cassie was thrilled. Mommy had turned into a jungle gym right in her own living room. When my body stretched into the "Cat's Pose," she climbed on. "Horsy! Horsy! Horsy!" she hollered, with all the vigor her 22-month frame could muster. She giggled even as I curled my back in time with the video, sending her sliding down my backside and onto the floor. 

In the "Stork's Pose," I surprised myself by successfully balancing on one leg, but Cassie pretended I was a maypole, and I started to waver because her hands tickled my thigh each time she made a lap. Then she decided it was more fun just to try to tip me over. In desperation, I grabbed for the Legos, this week's distraction-of-choice. That worked until I planted my bare foot squarely on top of one. 

Meanwhile, the Yoga Master assured me in his smooth, measured tone that practicing Yoga would give me the strength and the singleness of vision I would need to get through this pregnancy. He did not, however, offer any advice on getting through the videotape. 

Maybe Yoga classes for expectant mothers should be this way. That would be training for the skills we really need: the focus to stay on task after pausing to fill a sippy cup, to draw a kitty cat, to wipe a runny nose, as well as an unusual amount of balance just to keep from toppling over. 

Because, for moms, self-discipline is not just about sticking with something until it's done. It is the ability to stick with something, then pry yourself away. To stick again briefly, then release. It is about knowing when to hang in there, and when to surrender. It is about keeping your priorities in order. Perhaps that's why, for many moms, it just comes naturally.