Mindful Warrior (ha!)
I’ve been willfully continuing to keep the “I’ll do it in the morning” lie alive and well. I am fully aware the packing kid lunches for school the night before makes complete, beautiful, and perfect sense. But the lie is so much easier in the midst of the scattered chaos that I pitifully attempt to wrangle into a logical life every day! Yet, I always, always, always hate myself the next day for falling for it yet again.
So, while my three-year-old Badger is smearing milk around on the table with the palm of his hand and giggling, and I’m trying to gently and patiently rake the brush through my hippy-boy’s flowing hippy boy tresses and carpool is already waiting out front and I’m only wearing a bra and sweatpants… this is how my kids end up with things like a whole slightly wilty cucumber, a dishwasher pod, and a handful of uncooked pasta in their lunches. Bon appetite, darlings!
Any attempt at taking care of myself is put off with the same lie; ‘I’ll do it in the morning’, stubbornly refusing to change the absurd inner tempo that has been dictating the cadence of my harried existence. I’ve had a lingering assumption that even a brief daily meditation would exponentially help with the stress I carry, stress that manifests in relentless teeth-grinding while I sleep, as though my body needs to process the angst in any possible way, but can only sneak it out while I’m unconscious. I wake every day with an aching jaw and ringing teeth.
This morning I made it to work almost kinda not really on timeish… meetings, emails, decisions, phone calls, too many emails, issues, idiotic conversations with the office whiner, interoffice politics, trying so hard to act like I know how to do all the stuff… even called the kid’s dentist on my lunch break, another harried stupid day in working middle class paradise.
But today! Today, I forced myself to step away from the computer, found an empty office, stepped out of my black pumps and sat cross-legged on the floor. Set my phone’s timer for 15 minutes and just, well, breathed. A trigzillion stupid thoughts all stampeded at once, and my beleaguered little brain tried to address them all at once. “Thinking” I labeled them, and let them continue to try their best to engage me.
My back hurts.
The mortgage is late again.
Here I am.
This is boring.
Right this minute. Here I am. Just breathing.
Did I sign that thing for the Badger’s school?
There’s been a mistake, I’m not a real adult!!!
Am I hungry?
Whoops. Here I am again, just breathing.
If I were a real adult, I would have made the kids’ lunches last night!
Don’t forget that appointment on Friday.
I forgot, didn’t I?
SHIT. Here I AM. AGAIN.
My armpits smell like skunk. Or cumin. Or cat piss. Actually all three?
Is there a cub scout meeting tonight or is it next week…?
I AM JUST BREATHING DAMMIT
The thoughts continued to aggressively bang on the door of my brain, and although I fell for their tricks over and I over, I would then try to remember over and over, that my only duty in that moment was to breathe. I was finally doing it, finally taking steps to wrangle my life back into logical focus.
“This is good for me”,
I thought proudly, and even realized that silly thought wasn’t helpful, or welcome even.
The cycle went around this way, over and over, tensing then easing, the practice always in the return. Gradually, I softened a bit more, haltingly, but the easing was well, easier, and then the timer went off. Reluctantly, the pumps went back on, but there was a fresh breeze between my ears and the emails didn’t each feel like a burning building.
Wow, I was right, meditation fixed me! I’m all fixed!
I made it to the finish line of my work day, which meant that it was time for me to clock in at home- husband at work every night so I get two wiggly goofy boys for dinner, homework, play, bath, stories, teethbrushing, bed. This evening, I got to stop off and pick up our vegetables from the farm, but only if I really hustled.
The sidewalks between my office and the parking garage are torn up from construction, people drive like they are tempted to just end it all by careening into the side of a building and take you with them, but I made it to my car with plenty of time. I stood at my parked car, with a sigh I dumped my bags- workout gear, lunch, laptop, purse. I stood under the roaring highway and still felt a bit blanketed from the world, like my perspective softened from taking that time to stop out and try to just breathe.
“... I’m going to be one of those people that meditates every day
I thought to myself as I started my car.
…Clearly the benefits are immediate and I am already a better person…”
My thoughts trailed off as I realized that I really, really had to use the bathroom. Mentally running through the list of options, I reluctantly remembered the porta potty in the parking lot of the farm, and made that my destination. Stiff upper lip for 22 minutes of stoplights, highway, backroads, and then that glorious plastic box of relief would be alllllll mine. Husband would meet me there, and he’d hand off the kids and my evening shift would begin…But- fingers crossed- I would get there first and pee in glorious peace, and then maybe I could go back to being supposedly more mindful and patient, now that I’m a meditation expert.
I pulled into the dusty parking lot of the farm, and while the beautiful fields unfurled in front of me with lush rows of deep purple kale, a thousand gorgeous shades of greens dotted with ruby tomatoes, all I could think about was the glorious gushing waterfall of piss that I was about to unleash. My husband’s van was right behind me, and while we parked simultaneously, I wasn’t as excited to see him as I wanted to be because I had to pee so badly.
The boys spilled out, bickering about who won the last round of their car game ‘skittles’, and playfully whipping each other with their hoodies.
Here I am. Just breathing.
I tried to gently halt the whipping, get the badger out of the mud puddle, greet my husband and at the same time break free to make a run for the toilet, when I noticed a tow-headed kid meandering over with the very same destination. He was maybe about 10 years old, and much closer than I was, but clearly in no rush (like I WAS), but for me to run and beat out a kid for a port-a-potty would be well, weird. So, I stiffened my lip again, and asked my husband about his day. Before he could answer, our older son started in with a rambling story of his game at recess, and our three-year-old Badger clearly sensed that his parents had about 43 seconds to catch up, so he threw some handfuls of sand at the side of the car. SO cute.
Here I am, breathing.
I kept half an eye on the door of the potty, silently begging that kid to finish up, FOR GODSSAKE. My newfound mindfulness and smug patience was wearing thin, but I struggled to regroup and embrace the new, more enlightened me.
Suddenly, I saw the potty door open slightly, and then close again, yet no one emerged. I hastily kissed my husband and dashed over, ready to joyfully pounce on that contained canister of blue liquid and the excrement of strangers.
At long last, my dear…
I practically whispered to it as I approached.
The door popped open again, and abruptly slammed, and I caught a glimpse of the kid inside, clearly playing with the door. Given that I was now practically a Buddhist monk, I waited, yet cleared my throat loudly to alert the kid that someone was waiting. Right. Outside.
I could hear him continue to mess with the door from the inside, so I gave a gentle knock,
Right this minute. Here I am. Just breathing.
I could hear scratching, and bonking, and then the door suddenly popped open, the kid jumped out and snarled, “I broke the door”, and stomped off across the lot.
Oh, kids. Such pure creatures,
I thought with forced and maybe saccharine kindness.
Suddenly time slowed, as if in a dreamstate, I reached for the handle and simultaneously tried to unbutton my nice work trousers. But I was halted yet again as I heard from across the parking lot the words that every parent dreads hearing, especially while in public. The words that wrap a cold fog of fear around our hearts. I shudder now, repeating them.
“Mom! I have to poop!!!!”
The three-year-old came barreling across the parking lot, joyously kicking up dust and pebbles as he approached, ready to make a ~big splash~ in the blue liquid.
Right this minute. Here I am. Just breathing.
Defeated, I held the door open for him, and held his hand as he climbed the step up. I learned that the door had, in fact been broken, and I gingerly tried to cajole the sliding lock to latch. I helped my son take his pants down, and lifted his warm little body onto the precariously large seat. I held him by the armpits, not wanting to risk him slipping into the hideous unknown below, yet my face hovered in the updraft of what can only be described as the pits of all sadness and hell.
Right this minute. Here I am. Just not breathing.
I could hear the beautiful swoosh of the new England Fall breeze blowing through the leaves outside. I could hear the crunch of tires on the dirt parking lot as farm patrons came and went. I could hear the little plops and splashes of my baby’s turds landing in the ocean of doom below. I could hear the levee of my bladder, threatening to burst at any moment.
As quick as he started, he was done, ready to be wiped. I can’t say a did a thorough job, but that’s what baths are for, thank you. Finally, my moment had arrived. My pants were down and my ass was on that majestic plastic ring faster than I’ve ever moved in my life. The stream started slow at first, unsure if it was really safe to finally fly free, but then it picked up momentum, powerfully and exuberantly cascading, loud enough for the whole farm to know that I was finally peeing, thank you JESUS.
Was this experience a lesson in patience, gratitude, humility?
I wondered when I could finally enjoy some coherent thoughts again. I was drunk on relief, which is the only reason I dared to even think the following;
No wonder people say that children are our teachers…
At that very moment, my son who had been patiently standing at my knees, not touching anything!! for about 16 seconds, decided that he had simply waited long enough. He easily pushed the plastic door open and broke into a run across the grass.
My futile and desperate pleas of,
“STOP! NO! Get back here! AT LEAST CLOSE THE DAMN DOOR”
all went unheeded.
The new mindful me was excreted as forcefully as my pee.
Actually, kids are total assholes,
I realized with an even fresher perspective.
I think I might be an asshole, too.
I added in, surprised by my profound revelation.
Fancy work trousers bunched between my knees, lilywhite doughy lady ass cheeks softly spilling over the narrow toilet seat, my drooping, beleaguered, exhausted face peering out of the upright plastic poop coffin as people walked by, carrying their bags of fresh vegetables and herbs. Nothing could possibly stop my torrent of piss at that point.
Right this minute. Here I am. Just peeing.