Recently, I had the opportunity to go on an Alaskan cruise with my husband Marc, my husband’s parents and our four-year-old son, Wolfi. The trip was planned as birthday surprise for my father-in-law who was turning seventy. As Opa lives in Germany and does not get to see his grandchildren often, Marc and I decided to take Wolfi on the trip, even though we knew that our own activities would be limited by having a young child along.
As it turned out, most of the responsibility for Wolfi fell on me. He could easily keep pace with us grown-ups during the day, but by five o’clock every evening, he was completely worn out. Instead of putting on my finery and dining leisurely in the ship’s nicer restaurants, I found myself hurriedly eating pizza in the cafeteria and then heading to our cabin to get my tired little boy into bed. While the rest of my family was on deck sipping wine, watching the glaciers drift past and enjoying the sun set, I was down in our cramped cabin brushing teeth, reading stories and tucking Wolfi in for the night.
Clearly this situation could have been a world-class opportunity to cultivate some serious resentment. Why do I have to sacrifice all the time? Why can’t the others take care of him? Why can’t he stay up longer like all the other kids on the boat and go to childcare while I have my nice dinner?
Through yoga, however, I was able to transform resentment into gratitude. Once Wolfi was asleep, I changed my clothes, pulled out my travel mat and did asana and mediation for an hour or more. Unlike during my practice at home, I had no time pressure. There were no pots waiting in the kitchen. No weeds in the garden. No laundry in the dryer. There was just me, my mat and my sleeping child. Sure it was cramped. Sure I didn’t like being too close to that negligibly clean cabin floor. And sure I wished I too could drink a glass of wine and enjoy the sun set. But through my yoga practice I was able to convert those hours of “babysitting” into a transformative time for myself.
I admit to feeling at times somewhat resentful of motherhood. The culture shock of going from the life of an independent young woman to a homebound mother has taken years for me to adjust to, and I am still occasionally awed by the fact that I cannot so much as go for a solitary walk around the block without enlisting a small army of helpers.
During this cruise, however, caring for my son actually helped me to win back time for myself. Through his needing to be in bed early, I was able to enjoy the kind of unhurried solitude that I almost never get to enjoy at home. Through my practice of yoga, I discovered that time for my child can also truly become time for myself.
Sabrina Broselow Moser