Friday, April 12, 2019

Tai-Chi and other thoughts

On our way to the YMCA
When we visited Canada a year or so ago, we stayed in a basement apartment airbnb on a quiet corner, next to a neighborhood park. On a few mornings, while I watched the kids run and climb and play at the playground, I also watched a couple off to the side on the basketball courts practicing Tai chi. There was something so beautiful and connected, calm and peaceful, and also strong and firm about it that I just loved. I wanted to just sit and watch, but instead I kept an eye on the kids and stole as many glances as I felt wouldn't be too obvious.

When we were exploring 'things to do' in New York, I started just an outward search on google maps beginning at our hotel. A few blocks away (a short bike ride away, we found) was the westside YMCA. And they had a Tai chi class!

Jordan was a great sport and came along with me. We rode bikes through the morning, up through the side streets,  the air crisp and the fog lifting though still covering the tops of the taller buildings - it all just felt kind of magical.

We weren't experts! The teacher set aside a portion of time at the end of class for his assistant to help out 'the beginners' (us). But he was kind and we followed along the best we could.

Though obviously outsiders, I was struck by the sense of community I still felt. I knew if we ever found ourselves living on the west side of Manhattan, this was a safe, comfortable place where I could spend an hour each week and make friends (though maybe somewhat older friends). As class finished, they talked about movies they'd seen that week, the loss of a beloved pet, the new Tai chi form they were excited to start learning soon. It was so clearly a place to belong.

Also, I've had in my mind over this last school year a feeling of expectation or anticipation or preparation... not a nagging thought but more just a space in my mind of 'what's next?' Our children are growing. The hours of my days which have revolved so fully around Landon, Ellie, Owen, Porter, and Isaac for the last 12 years will in just a few years shift and expand, with my own 'quiet time' becoming more than just the sweet spot of well-coordinated nap times. Along with those thoughts, I've had a phrase in my mind the past little while that I heard on a podcast or read on a blog... ' do more of those things that make you feel like yourself.'  There are many moments in mothering when I do feel that - sitting close reading a favorite story, baking cookies with helpers up on the counter, practicing letter sounds or counting by 10's, tucking in at night or giving one final kiss to a sleeping forehead before I go to bed. Fewer, these days,  are moments on my own. Standing in that class, watching my reflection in the dance room mirrors surrounding the wood floor where I snake-stepped forward across the room and back again, following along and focusing on keeping my balance with one foot full and the other empty and ready to move, imperfectly circling my arms along with the instructor, messily, but as best as I could... I was surprised to find in all of it that I felt like myself.  

I worried about this trip to New York. Even up to just days before we left, I felt at times like I might ruin our trip with homesickness for our children. It turned out, I was okay. I loved talking to them, and wished I could even a little more. I treasured the minutes found in a quiet construction-zone corner on 5th avenue to sit with my back to an orange barrel and hear about Owen's birthday gifts, Ellie's school day, noises from the front room of the other boys playing and wrestling. They were all safe and happy and enjoying the time with Grammie and Grandpa while we were away. And also, I loved spending the days with Jordan, and even spending one day on my own while he worked (I can do anything I want to do!) It was a great experience and brought even more real-ness to these thoughts I'm sorting through of the years to come when our days, my days will not revolve entirely around these dear little ones.

Writing now about this short class, this trip away, I can see how it helped me feel just a little more okay about theses changing seasons to come. I was okay. I missed my kiddos, but also I was happy! I will miss these ages and stages and moments (like Isaac's attachment today for his new too-big shoes, Porter's tiger growls and off-the-bed somersaults...), and also - I'll still find new places to belong, new moments that make me feel like me, new happy adventures ahead.