By Dana Gornall
I am not the type of person to lose my temper.
Ask anyone who knows me. I am fairly easy-going, somewhat free-spirited to the point of being a little flighty, and I rarely yell at or punish my kids unless they do something pretty major. I let things roll off my back. Most times when something bothers me, I breathe a little, remind myself how lucky I have it even when things aren’t going well, and I move on.
But every once in awhile, I lose it. This day was one of those days.
It usually happens when things pile up—a bit more than they normally do. It isn’t easy being a single mom. You work, you come home and have things to do like cooking and laundry. There are bills to be paid and paperwork to be attended to; school, chores and forms to complete. Like signing one daughter up for dance—Mom, we have to sign up… the deadline is approaching soon—and extracurricular activity fundraisers that beep and pop up in my inbox—we are selling Scentsy this week, we need a basket of donations, we are doing a car wash.
In my professional life there are needs that beg for attention. Continuing education, being there on time and ready to work, interpersonal relationships between coworkers and the dance we do there. There are outside relationships: friendships both in real world life and online, a romantic relationship that needs a face turned toward it from time to time and parental relationships that poke and prod for a little attention as well. There is the relationship between me and my children and the fact that I need to do all of the things a parent needs to do like set boundaries, be wise, be funny, be loving and strong in every situation.
And then of course there is the relationship between myself and me; a body that needs exercised, a mind that needs soul food and nourishment, a spirit that needs stoked and fed.
It’s been a over a month since I have been to yoga.
The holidays have come and gone, and the studio was closed during that time for two weeks. I tried keeping up with a small, rickety practice of my own, but it never seems to be enough or regular enough.
I had appointments for my kids and there was work and other engagements. A string of illnesses flew through our house: first my son then my daughter then me, back to my son and we went round and round passing it back and forth. No amount of lemon tea with ginger or vitamin C packed smoothies seemed to ward off those stubborn bugs. Days were filled with over-the-counter prescription meds, trips back and forth to the doctor, and trying more than anything else just to keep my head above water.
And then I get a small break in the clouds—a day where I was feeling a bit better, the kids were in school and I had a late start at my job. I ran with the chance to go to yoga. Grabbing my mat, I rolled it up and dashed to my car with a bit of excitement. Sure, it will be tough; I haven’t had a solid practice in weeks (months?) and my hamstrings will be extra tight, my joints will feel super stiff, but I was excited to go.
Turning onto I-90 East, my brain buzzed with the things I would need to do after yoga and before work, the sun was peeking through the dim winter sky…. and red tail lights up ahead.
That’s when I lost my shit.
It was a traffic jam. Not just a slow moving, people are trying to get to work traffic jam, but a full blown we aren’t going anywhere anytime very soon, stopped dead, traffic jam. I could feel the tension building. My stomach was churning and a low moan growing from the back of my throat. Hitting my fist on the steering wheel I let every swear word I knew (or at least the bigger ones) fly out of my mouth at full scream.
Stopped there in traffic, my head slunk back to the headrest and it occurred to me that if anyone could step outside of the line and see me—dressed in yoga gear and sporting my OM necklace, pink Gaiam Yoga mat all neatly rolled up in the passenger seat, and pounding my fist at the stopped cars having a temper tantrum, it would have been quite funny.
Where did all of the serenity go? Where was the equanimity? Where was the easy-going, moment-by-moment acceptance?
Taking a deep breath and letting a small chuckle escape from my belly, I snapped a photo of the stopped line of cars in front of me and sent it to my yoga teacher. Turning around at the next exit, I headed home. I suppose even yogis and Buddhas have bad days once in awhile, or maybe they don’t. I wondered if the Dalai Lama ever felt stressed about getting stuck in traffic.
I suppose maybe it wasn’t meant to be that day or maybe the “universe” was telling me something, or maybe it was a lesson… or maybe it was just bad luck, bad timing and complete coincidence. Regardless, I found the irony slapping me neatly in the face.
So maybe I’m a yogi mom or maybe I am just a mom trying to be a little better. And maybe I occasionally lose my shit. Maybe I will get to yoga next week.
Editor: Alicia Wozniak