Goodbye, Yoga: On Parenting And Perpetual Loss

My daughter’s yoga studio is closing, and I am sad. Before I became a mother I would have sneered at that — it is particularly easy to sneer at women doing trivial things (basically just about anything) and having feelings about them.

But as I’ve written about here, starting baby yoga classes when she was 10 months old was a self-esteem boost I desperately needed at a time when I was working half-time, and feeling a diminished sense of accomplishment. I needed to get out of the house. I needed to have something on my calendar, somewhere to be. I needed to say I did something. Yoga gave me that.

But it also taught me how to play with my kid. I was not entirely comfortable singing goofy to her in front of other people before this class. We would do imaginative things alone together, but I still felt like I needed to be “cool” in front of adults. It was these classes that started opening my eyes to the joy of giving no fucks about looking mature while parenting.

I watched my daughter shift from being the youngest, most afraid, infant in the class to the girl who ran over to pull the parachute out before it was time. She sings and dances her yoga songs around the house. She does a terrific down dog for a kid who is two years old. Watching her learn — and to wait her turn to walk on the train and get a stamp, or have her name sung and chanted, or ring the chime and pass it to another child — filled my heart with pride. These were things I couldn’t have taught her at home.

As time went on, our life circumstances changed. My daughter enrolled in school (day care) full-time, and I went on to start a new organization. When you love what you do, it’s easy to work all the time, as I do and basically always have save my one brief stint as a half-time, stay-at-home mom. Suddenly our late Wednesday afternoons took on a new import. Whereas we had first started because I needed something to do, now I was continuing because I needed to carve out 45 minutes every week (or even third week) to not do, to invest in moving and being silly with my daughter.

More time passed and the late Wednesday family class was cancelled; not enough interest. It was replaced with an adult playtime yoga class, with kids encouraged to play with toys during the session. I was skeptical. How could I justify leaving work early not to enrich her, but me? This, too, was a learning experience. I told myself to be open — I had a few paid up classes, after all. Perhaps there was something of value in the new regime.

I considered the discomfort I felt in investing in myself versus doing something explicitly for my daughter. I still consider it, and find myself learning every time.

But also I challenged myself to take to heart what I’ve been saying for years: That sometimes we need to let one thing end in order to create space for something new and wonderful to enter our lives. Actively creating space has worked well for me in the past. The glamorous notion of leaping from one fully formed thing to another can often mean that the next thing is not nearly as interesting as giving yourself the mental space to dream up a new paradigm, then create it. This is why I have left multiple jobs without the next one lined up. Applying this to my personal life and my parenting life was challenging.

But it bore fruit. The new class was also quite nice. We had just hit a stride. I was getting that great yoga high and she was loving the chance to play with new toys in the studio. She would bring me plastic fruits as I breathed and did warrior poses. Sometimes she would ask to sit on my knee during a pose. Other times she’d be off in the playroom chatting with the other kids while I did a headstand, my shirt over my ribs and my round belly flopping exposed in the air — and me feeling a mega-triumph over the eating disorder that no longer controls my life.

When I learned the studio was closing, I wanted to cry. We went to our last class Saturday, and this time my daughter was the biggest kid there. The teacher announced it was the last class she was teaching there, and she might have to cry.

One of the most difficult parts of parenting is realizing that just when you think you’ve got it figured out, just when you’ve found your sense of anchor and permanence in a challenge that doesn’t play by rules written anywhere, it’s all gone. Your kid has grown out of the stage and the world no longer offers the same antidotes for younger kids now living that stage. Brand new becomes memory with alarming speed. Not just the pride and the giggles, but also the fear and the difficulty.

I am telling myself to enjoy the space that is being created by the end of something I love. I am digging deeper and telling myself it’s okay to grieve and create space at the same time. We can hold many things.

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Carly Fiorina’s Faux Feminism Is A Joke

Carly Fiorina’s faux feminism is an offensive ribbon tied around a dangerous pile of lies.

Life is short, so let’s dive in. Carly has made her pro-life views and willingness to lie through her teeth for them a marquee aspect of her candidacy.

This woman has concocted disgusting, disturbing and roundly discredited lies about Planned Parenthood that fan the flames of terrorist attacks like the recent mass shooting in Colorado Springs. These lies are in service of a small group, to which Carly belongs, who wish to ban abortion entirely — and that hurts women. Access to abortion is a great thing for women. Whether we use it or not (though lots of women — 1 in 3 — do), easy access to abortion ensures our safety and well-being if we find ourselves pregnant in the wrong place or at the wrong time.

There is no such thing as a pro-life feminist. Pro-life opposition to abortion, contraception, sex education, and reproductive health care is diametrically opposed to women achieving equality and justice. This is basic stuff: If women don’t have control over whether and when we have kids, we have no dignity and equality under the law. We need to be able to control our fertility in order to have equal access to opportunities, period.

Pro-life advocates like to say they are pro-woman (which often takes on an additional LOLsob factor when you account for the overwhelming number of men driving the pro-life bus). But if you can only agree that women should have the final say over their bodies when they do not have sex and are not pregnant, you aren’t actually pro-woman — and you certainly don’t believe in equality for women.

All this makes Carly Fiorina’s latest faux feminist salvo even more weird. Now she’s claiming a feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses (emphasis mine). Ooh, that’s rich from a woman working to prevent women from having choices over their own lives.

Deeper still, Fiorina’s definition of feminism as a woman doing whatever she wants — well, that’s ridiculous. Feminism is an action agenda working to secure equality and justice for women. A feminist is someone who believes in redistributing power toward women and other marginalized people, and works toward that goal. Living your life the way you want is great, and feminism works so that women can have those choices. But simply having choices and exercising any choice whatsoever doesn’t mean that you’re a feminist.

You can choose to work against the interests of women — and men — as Fiorina does, and if you are a woman that may make you a trailblazer in the backward-looking world of the male-dominated GOP.

But choosing to live your life doesn’t make you a feminist, though presuming to make some of the most important choices in life for other women certainly makes you a hypocrite.