Book Review: Poser My life in 23 yoga poses

If you would have told me a week ago that I would have found time to read a 350 page memoir, I would have laughed at you. While I used to pound the books harder than a sorority girl does jello shots, I haven’t been very book minded since Potamus has been born. Unless of course you count the many readings of “That’s not My Lion,” or “Quack Quack Springtime Animals.” But I’ve been thinking a lot about yoga lately, having this bodily desire to get back on the mat, but this mind desire to never get back on the mat because of how it changes me by making me focus and be present and realize and ease into my limitations.

Yoga seemed like just exactly what I wanted: something to calm me down. It also seemed like just exactly what I didn’t want: a place where everyone could see what a mess I was, could see my tremor and my anxiety and my worry. There was something about holding still, about inhabiting a pose, that was scary. What was under all that anxious chatter?

But there I was, at the local splish splash park outside our library, and to kill some time I was browsing the “must read” section and there it was…a book I needed to read. Poser: my life in 23 yoga poses, by Claire Dederer. I am a sucker for memoirs to begin with and to have one focused on yoga poses (dang her for cornering the market on that type of memoir!). It seemed appropriate…would get me reading about yoga (and not having to actually DO it).

I wasn’t expecting it to hit me in the gut like it did. Not only was it a story of her experience and relationship to yoga, but it was mainly about her life as a mom, a new mom, and growing up and raising a family in Seattle, and the anxiety and fears of trying to re-create the childhood she didn’t have, and do everything right according to the latest mommying trend. It’s probably narcissistic on some level, but I love books that are set in Seattle, or the Pacific Northwest, where I feel like I can just settle into the main character’s shoes and walk around. Funny little things like, “In Phinney Ridge, people didn’t have BEWARE OF DOG signs. They had PLEASE BE MINDFUL OF DOG signs,” that make me go “yes, that’s it, exactly.” People who have only visited once or twice wouldn’t quite get the nitty gritty of the city, the nooks and crannies, the differences between Queen Anne or Fremont or Phinney Ridge and the islands.

And she gets it bodily, as shown in this little exchange in her mind about her own hunching and her teacher’s response:

I’m a huncher. I hunch when I stand and I hunch when I write. Sometimes I suspect years of breastfeeding left me curled forward like a fist or a flower…

Seidal said, “I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of a huncy person. I don’t mean I have great hunches about things. I mean, I hunch a lot. When I’m at yoga, I do the opposite of hunching. I open. I draw my shoulders back. I used to thik that if I did enough yoga I would learn to stop hunching in regular life. I would teach myself at yoga to become a non-huncy person, and I would go around all the time with wide, open shoulders.”

Who can relate to that truth? On an anxious, body level, I relate to the hunching forward, fear, hiding my heart chakra from the world, and it reminded me of my favorite Ann Lamott’s quote about her shoulders being raised up to her ears all the time, like Richard Nixon. I also relate to the hunching from breastfeeding. And I too have though if I could just master this whole yoga thing that I would become the perfect picture of posture and openness, thus perfecting my appearance and getting rid of my anxiety for good. If only I could work hard enough at it, that would solve everything.

I feel accomplished, like I’ve scaled all 14, 411 (used to be 410 when I first memorized that stat in 4th grade) of Mt. Rainier. I read a book. A 350 page book, while working full-time and nursing my child on-demand.  It was real, and inspirational, and definitely belonged on that local library’s “Must Read” list. Check it out.


Sleeping Babies

Sigh. My sweet little baby is growing up so fast, and while I am nostalgic about it, I am also happy that I have been sticking to my beliefs about all things sleep related. Since Potamus was born we have done a modified bed-share/co-sleep arrangement, based on all of our needs and wishes at night. During the day, Potamus was held or carried in a sling or ergo pack while napping. My goal was to have him learn and really believe that sleep was a safe experience to enter and exit, that Mama and Daddy would be there when he drifted off and would be there when he woke up. I’ve ignored the somewhat flak I recieved about ‘spoiling’ my baby and that if he gets used to being held for naps that he would ALWAYS have to be held for naps. I mostly ignored these well-meaning advices, as I was certain inside my gut that Potamus would not be going to college still napping in my arms (as he’s projected to be 6’5, that might be challenging even if he WANTED to be held. Ha!)

The past week or so, Potamus has been spending most of the night in his co-sleeper, but yesterday I thought I would try putting him down for a nap in our bed. There he was, tired,, nursing himself to sleep and I gave him his snuggly blanket and once he was asleep, I crept away. 2 plus hours later he woke up quietly and was smiley when I went to check on him. I relished the sweet time he was sleeping by himself (i was hosting some ladies over for afternoon treats and makeovers), but it struck me how quickly he has gone from needing to be re-assured to sleep and how he is now slowly becoming Mr. Independent. The safety we have fostered is, in my belief, part of the reason why.

So I tried this morning, a new experiment, where he was allowed to “play” quietly in the co-sleeper at 4:30 this morning since he was awake and I didn’t really want to get up (and Boof certainly wasn’t wanting to hang out, either)…and then around 5:15 I hear him quiet down, and I open my eyes and there he is…he rolled onto his side, facing away from us, holding his lovey and was out like a light. He put himself back to sleep. No crying it out traumatized battle for us. Just sweet peaceful sleep.

Why yes, I am mom enough, thank you!

I could probably write 17 blog posts in response to the controversial Time magazine article that has been splashed about this week. But I’m not going to focus this one on attachment parenting, or extended breastfeeding, or babywearing. It’s not that I don’t have opinions on these things, but I think that the MOST provocative and emotion-raising part of the whole thing, was the title: “Are you Mom enough?”

I am well aware that moms across the country (world?) wonder if they are doing enough as a mom. They are comparing themselves to their own mothers, grandmothers, neighbors, friends, Carol Brady, and the like. I wonder if my lack of interest in motherhood growing up was somehow a protective buffer, so now that I am experiencing life with Potamus, I wander around intersted in exploring my own version of motherhood, without feeling too crazy in comparing myself to others. Or perhaps I am so exhausted that all I can do is what comes ‘naturally’ or ‘instinctively,’ because anything more than that will take too much work (and thought, since my brain is so full up already).

Now I’m not perfect by any means, and have a whole list of things that I would like to be doing better (like less looking at my phone or watching tv at the end of a long day, when I could be staring into my sweet babe’s eyes), but overall I am not so very concerned with my skills versus my friends/neighbor/CarolBrady’s skills in raising a youngster. What makes me sad is that a headline like that really shakes moms up. And we are too awesome to let that happen.

baby wearing

I am listening to the sweet little snores coming from Potamus as he is wrapped all snuggly up inside our ring sling. He’s been crabby lately, not sure if it’s a cold that he got from grandma, growth spurt, or the fact that my diet has consisted of Oreos and spaghetti for the past few days. At any rate, I have no idea how parents who don’t babywear do it. Potamus handles the swing/bumbo/vibrating chair for maybe 15 minutes at a time (tops) unless he’s already asleep (after much bouncing/rocking/walking/swaying) and then we can maybe get 45 in the swing if we’re lucky and he doesn’t wake up mid-transfer. With him all wrapped up in a carrier, we are able to get some things done around the house. I have folded laundry, done dishes, swept, made the bed and Boof’s specialty is playing video games while babywearing and bouncing on our large exercise ball.

Even when I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to be a babywearing mama. What I didn’t know was that Boof would be on board just as much as me.Granted, he has embraced the Baby Bjorn that feels more masculine to him (and laughs at my suggestion that he try the Moby). I mostly use the Moby, but have also begun to use the ring sling and have an Ellaroo Mei Tai type that I want to use when he can spread his legs a little more. I bought that one for my mother-in-law who wants to carry Potamus around, but doesn’t want the complicated tying that comes with the Moby wrap. Today, as Potamus was wailing, and I put him in the ring sling and he began to calm down, Boof joked and said “we sure are baby carrier afficionados,” and I had to agree…my desire to wear my baby on my person had taken a whole new turn fromwhat I expected. We have a 2nd hand bjorn, an Ergo, a Mai Tai, a ring sling, and a Moby. I am sort of addicted and need to quit trolling Craigslist for more baby wraps and carriers!

But wouldn’t a cute hiking backpack add something to my collection? 😉