Lately, Lucia has been saying, "you're the meanest Mommy in the world." At first it kind of smarted when she said that. Lately though, (like tonight when she chanted it naked from her bathtub while I, like a maidservant searched for the bedtime book she wanted) the words bounced off of me with barely a sting. After Lucia's raging tantrum and full-on tirade declaring me "the meanest Mommy in the world", we talked in bed. "Lucia", I said, "just because you are mad or sad or tired, does not give you permission to be unkind to me. It is my job to make rules for you and sometimes you won't like them. Sometimes it will seem like I am mean but I love you all the time, even when I'm mean." Now, calm and sweet and irresistible with her eau de Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo, Lucia explained emphatically, "Mommy, I know you're not really mean. Sometimes I just need to cry it out. But I always know you love me." Whatever. Maybe I'll crack the code to parenting and maybe I won't, but in the meantime, I'll still make rules.
Lucia knows that I will always be her mom. She knows that when she pours water in her gym shoes and puts glitter all over her scalp I will still love her. She knows that she can roll her eyes at me and slam the door in my face and I will still love her. She knows that she can hate me and be ragingly frustrated with the rules I impose on her and that I'll still be here. I'll still be her mom. Like all moms, I am her touchstone. She'll go away from me and come back, sometimes staying for a long time, calm and content and then she'll run from me, stifled and needing independence. Just like I did with my mom. Some days it feels thankless. "I birthed you and this is how you treat me?!" I know that, just like me, Lucia is in a process, feeling her feelings, finding her way with Mean Mommy.
For me, Mean Mommy comes in the form of my yoga practice. Anyone who has read my blog knows that I often go to yoga feeling resistant. I make myself go because I know I will always always always feel better after I practice. In the time I have been doing yoga I have gone through great times, good times, mediocre times and don't- want-to-get-out-of-bed-can't-eat-a-thing-don't-want-to-brush-my-teeth bad times. No matter where on the emotional continuum I start my practice for the day, I am invariably better after practice. My better feelings might last for an hour or a week or a month. When I go on vacation and eat crap and don't exercise for a week, I know what will make me feel better. Yoga. When I forget to pay my gas bill for three months and feel like a loser. Yoga. It's like Visa. Yoga is priceless. For me, it can make me feel better about almost anything.
My job as Lucia's mom is to keep her safe, teach her the rules, guide her so she is equipped to navigate through her world. My yoga practice does the same thing for me. When I am a spinning out of control maniac trying to manage a business, parenting, friendships, emotions, Yoga keeps me sane. Just like Lucia knows I will always love her, always be there, I know that about my practice. I might resent it, push away from it, even avoid it, but I know my yoga practice is always there. It will always love me.