By Dana Gornall
A nap would be nice.
These are the words I scrawled on our blackboard message board that hangs on the wall just before you walk into and out of the house. It rests right below the garage door button. Meant originally for messages to be written, such as, I’m at the gym or Don’t forget to pick up almond milk, it has become a spot where I write pertinent quotes that strike me as significant. Today, feeling a bit overwhelmed and getting over yet another cold, I write what is circulating through my mind in a bubble: A nap would be nice.
It’s the age-old song and dance of being the working mother. I’ve written about it, whined about it, shared stories and laughed about it, but even on the days of feeling tired and overwhelmed, I know this phase of my life is walking the last go-around on the track.
My kids are getting older—they are teenagers.
My son turned 18 just a few weeks ago and my daughter is 16, wanting to sign up for driver’s education. My niece, whom I’ve raised since she was seven, just graduated from college last week. We drove almost two hours through farm fields to sit high up in a stadium and watch all of the students in their caps and gowns march in and out and then drove back through those corn fields to take even more pictures of teens dressed up for prom. I look at all three of them, seeing ghosts of their childhood faces staring back at me, now more mature, full of adventure, full of desire to take on the world.
Where did all of the time go?
It’s funny how when we are going through it all, the sleepless nights and the trips to the pediatrician, the terrible band concerts with squeaking instruments and hanging the colorful pictures and Mother’s Day projects on the refrigerator, how when we are going through all that we know that it is all temporary, but at the same time feels like it will last forever. We think of the times when we used to have free time and hobbies. We think of the weekends we spent sleeping in and wish for just one of those days.
Then suddenly it all begins to change and we wonder how it all went by so fast.
A nap would be nice.
Sitting perched on a bed pillow the other night, I cross my legs and rest my hands on my knees, shutting my eyes. Attempting to practice, to sit, I begin to breathe in slowly…1…2…3… and out…1…2…3… I notice my mind wander and bring it back to the breath. I…2…3… and I sense someone in my room. Opening my eyes, I see my daughter at my closet door quietly flipping through my clothes in search of a jacket or sweater to wear to school the next day. She leaves and I close my eyes again.
1…2…3… and out…1…2….3….
My son peeks his head in the doorway. “Do we have any pizza rolls?” I open my eyes. “Yes, I think so,” I answer quietly, “if not, there are frozen pizzas.” I hear his footsteps down the hallway and into the kitchen, the freezer door open and shut. 1…2…3…. the oven beeps a few times as he sets the timer. I sigh and give up.
A nap would be nice, or a few moments of quiet.
But then I think about last week. I think about graduation and prom and I think about driving school and planning graduation parties. I think about waking up on Mother’s Days year after year to breakfast in bed with cereal and fruit and toast that has not been fully toasted yet. I think about little warm bodies that used to crawl in my bed in the middle of the night and cuddle up close when they couldn’t sleep and teary faces when one of them fell from their bicycles, knees scraping the concrete. I think about the night before Christmas and wrapping presents late into the night and hiding Easter eggs early in the morning.
Sliding my legs over the bed and padding down the hallway, I get out a plate for my son’s pizza rolls. There will be plenty of time to nap one day. There will be time to meditate. So what if the mindful moments are just that—moments. These moments are more important right now.
And that’s when it hits me. This is my practice.
I don’t have a teacher or guru. I have never been on a 10-day meditation retreat or visited any ashram. I don’t have a sangha. My meditation practice is truly spotty and sometimes too far in between, and I haven’t gone to a yoga class in a year. But that doesn’t mean Dharma isn’t surrounding me every day.
It’s present in every argument I have with my son and my daughter. It’s present as I drive the 50-minute commute to and from work. It’s present when I deal with uncomfortable situations with family or when I feel stuck in the middle between two opposite sides of people. It’s present when my daughter is crabby and snaps or when she is hyper and silly and I am tired. It’s there when my son is late getting home and he has forgotten to text me once again.
I walk over and look at the words I had scrawled on the blackboard, and think about them. Erasing, I write again:
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. ~ Dhammapada
Because after all, there is time for napping, but now is the time to be awake.
Editor: Alicia Wozniak
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