I should have been more specific when I set my intention. I wanted to receive enlightenment on the mat through my yoga practice, not necessarily through the challenges of motherhood during my daughter’s kindergarten homework session.
Sometimes a mundane task like homework can be revealing and can tell us where we need to take our next steps on and off the mat.
In the relatively short amount of time required to do kindergarten homework, my dormant inner Medusa can rear her ugly head. It is a struggle to keep her at bay while feigning patience through my daughter’s third math sheet. This was tested when Chickpea started reading the directions in a silly voice, “10 minus 8 equals….” As she proceeded to draw 11 circles, my attempt to stay calm through rhythmic breathing was challenged. “Three!” Chickpea announced. On an exhalation, I shouted, “Focus!” Chickpea stared at me in stunned shame before her lower lip began to quiver. New equation: My Outburst plus Her Tears did not equal Best Mom of the Year.
I took my daughter in my arms and tried to console her with a personal story that shared a similar plot line as what had just transpired — just replace the characters with my mom and me. Through the salty tears of three generations, I remember my mom telling me that she only wanted me to have better than what she had as a child. I apologized to Chickpea for my yelling at her and expressed that I, too, wanted her to have better than what I had. When she leaned into me for a hug, a layer of the veil lifted. For the first time, I saw that it wasn’t the fact that I wanted Chickpea to have better than what I had as a child. My childhood was great. What I really meant was that I wanted her to have better than I now have as an adult.
I thought about the pressure I put on my daughter as a result of my pursuit of perfection: the vicious cycle of unrelentingly striving. At some point, I learned that if you simply work hard enough, you will accomplish all your goals and be a success; mistakes and failures are inevitable, but ultimate success is guaranteed.
But what if I don’t succeed? My insecurities and failures were colliding with the old school teachings of “Practice makes perfect.” I desperately worked at the art of letting go only to experience myself clinging more desperately to the desired outcome. Something was collapsing in my core belief system.
I apologized to Chickpea for shouting at her, threw on my Silly Mama persona, and managed to salvage the rest of the evening with grace. After tucking her into bed, the unfiltered thoughts came flooding in. I felt clueless how to find some kind of balance. I know that hard work isn’t inherently bad, and I acknowledge that it is the attachment to the outcome that is crippling. But how do I truly understand that and really embody it?
The only thing I knew to do was to return to my practice. Almost intuitively, I folded into a standing forward bend. With my world upside down, I was able to reframe my thoughts and experiences. The question then isn’t “What if I succeed or don’t succeed?”; the question practice makes us ponder is, “What is success?”
“Wow!” I slowly rolled up to ride the endorphin rush, and to strategize how to implement this new perspective and to explore what else could I reframe.
The first step was identifying my own perceived failures. Ouch. Breathe deeply. OK, move forward.
Failure: My first perceived failure was never accomplishing A-list celebrity status. After decades of training, theater, and short films, I never evolved beyond that. So much for my dreams coming true on the silver screen.
Reframed: Is the silver screen limited to the movie screen? Not at all. Hello computer screen.
Failure: I always wanted to be the star of someone’s story.
Reframed: Why not be the star of my own story?
Failure: I told myself to stop kidding myself. My role was now to be a mother and to put this into practice, even in the everyday activity of doing homework assignments.
Reframed: Be a mother and an actor. It isn’t an either/or but a choice that involves AND. Write Chickpea into the script and work/play together.
With this new perspective fueled by both a math assignment and a simple yoga pose, I began writing. Fast forward six weeks, and I’ve now gathered an incredible cast and crew. Together, we’ve filmed the web series, “Om Sweet Home.”
This soul-searching series is about a woman raised Jewish and Catholique. But wait…what does it mean to be Catholique? I had sent out a thousand postcards with this tagline to entertainment industry VIPs, but it was only after all the cards were in the mail that I had realized my spell-check wasn’t flagged by the seemingly French word. After a crying fit unleashed by my perfectionist self, a commitment to reframing led me to rename the final episode “Catholique” to make the spelling look intentional.
From Chickpea’s math assignment to my grammatical error, all of these are lessons in reframing as well as becoming more compassionate and forgiving towards myself and others. While I may not have won over anyone in Hollywood—at least not yet—I have won over my daughter. Success reframed.
Our new mantra is, “Practice makes progress.” We’ve stocked up on erasers in case we make mistakes. And I keep my mat nearby for whenever my inner Medusa needs to flip herself upside down again.
Meg Weidner is the soul-searching creator of the Om Sweet Home web series, which can be blissfully viewed at omsweethome.tv. She loves her family and friends and finds joy in discovering the AND choices. For Weidner, yoga and walking the family dog are great sources of healing and inspiration.