Well, kinda, sorta do it anyway.
I practice yoga. I say practice because my yoga instructors say practice. Just “doing” yoga doesn’t fly in yogi circles. They like practice. “That was a beautiful practice, what do you want from your practice today?” But really, I do yoga. (#yogafail) Practice is for people who commit to something and work like hell at it over and over again in order to get better at it and hopefully, one day great at it. Maybe win a trophy or award with tears streaming down their face on some podium or stage. Make no mistake about it – that is not why I do yoga. In fact, it is not why I do most things.
I don’t really care if I get “better” at yoga, if I can do a head stand one day or a back bend. I’m pretty sure those days are over if I ever had them. I don’t really like to “challenge” myself – that’s really not my style. I do yoga because I want a tight bum. I want less flabbiness and sag. I want less stiffness and more flexibility. I want to feel fit. I want to rock a bikini. And… I like the outfits.
But sometimes, okay most of the time, I do it half assed. “Easy does it” is my motto with most exercise programs. I know I should really try harder and sometimes I do. I know I am supposed to zen out and sometimes, mercifully, I do. I know I should be enjoying it, enjoying the journey, the practice itself and sometimes I do but mostly I find that hard to manage when the recurring thought in my head is, “Seriously, another vinyasa!?” or “When is this going to be over?” The truth is, I do not often enjoy the journey. I enjoy the end results.
Turns out doing many things half assed works for me.
We have been told to strive for excellence, do things the right way if they are worth doing at all (and yes, there is a right way), “to seek greatness and seek it until the very end”, practice makes perfect, mediocrity is for losers. You get the gist. That’s a lot pressure quite frankly. If I have to do it perfectly, if I have to achieve greatness in it or it isn’t worth doing, if I have to try my very hardest and best in everything I do, well, I wouldn’t do much. And I would not enjoy much either. Sometimes, half assed is my best. Sometimes, half assed should receive a medal for just showing up and getting out of bed. Lucky for me, I let myself off the hook. Lucky for me, I forgive myself for not being great at everything I do, giving it my all and on top of it, enjoying the process too. The friggin journey of it all. Lucky for me, I learned how.
Looking back on when my children were babies, I did not enjoy a lot of what that entailed. My lack of sleep, lack of personal grooming, lack of sex, lack of brain power, lack of personal space and interests and time were not that enjoyable for me. Being a mother requires selflessness every moment of everyday when they are young. It’s a tough lesson to the newly initiated when your first is born and requires your undivided attention and time around the clock – you don’t get to ease into selflessness slowly. You don’t get to dip your toe in the water, it’s more like a splash of cold water in the face. Dunking booth also comes to mind.
Once in awhile, in the grocery store or some other such place, where the kids were having a melt down on Aisle 4 – they had spotted some candy-cereal they had to have – a nice older woman would stop and knowingly smile at the chaos that was ensuing all around me and say, “Enjoy every minute. It goes by so fast.” Maddening. What I wanted to reply to her was this: “Are you kidding me right now? Are you crazy? Not fast enough, lady! How about you enjoy this for me for awhile and I’ll hop across the plaza to the coffee house, sit down for nice latte and a good book and some me time.” But what I actually said was, “Yes, so I’ve heard” and smile politely. As I desperately look for not one but two Dum Dum’s in my purse to distract them from the candy-cereal (yes, I see the hypocrisy), the recently showered and perfectly groomed woman leisurely strolls down the aisle nostalgic for those days and “oh so proud” of her parenting accomplishment she so fondly remembers. Time has a way of distorting our memories. Especially time away from those baby years.
In 2 1/2 years, my oldest will graduate from highschool and I can tell you, I still do not look back on those days selectively remembering how I loved every minute of it because I didn’t. But I loved having done it, having parented those 2 beautiful babies I was entrusted with to care for, love and mother. I said to my husband one time when we were deciding whether to have a third child, “Don’t you think we will look back when we are 80 and wish we had more children?” You know what he said, you want to know why I loved him so much? He said, “It is easy to look back on your life when you are 80 and say you wish you had 10 children Retrospect is easy.” Truth.
Raising children is hard. Not because you are doing it wrong but because it is hard. Doing lots of things is hard but in the end, worth the hard. Adding the extra pressure of doing them great, giving it our best every single minute, being in a constant state of ecstasy the whole time or you are doing it wrong, with a capital W, doesn’t help. Sometimes, your best is half assed. Sometimes, half assed is best for all involved especially when mommy can not take preparing one more well balanced dinner. Like tonight when I let my children eat the candy-cereal I wouldn’t let those precious babies touch in Aisle 4 all those years ago, for dinner. (I threw a couple bananas and a multi vitamin at them too as I headed out the door to a delicious warm dinner with a friend. #momfail) Sometimes, half assed is the best your ass can handle. Sometimes job well done needs to move aside for job done.
I love my kids. I love being in shape and having a perky bum, but I don’t always enjoy the journey of it all. I don’t always do it with zest, with greatness and with joy. Sometimes I just want to get through it. Through another vinyasa, another back to school night, another dinner. But I’ve learned how to be at peace with that and not feel the immense guilt we, “half assers” sometimes feel for not being “strive for perfectioners.” And this is how: I forgive myself for it. I forgive myself for not being perfect and thinking perfectly but mostly I forgive myself for not always wanting to – for doing some things, maybe even a lot of things, half assed.
Forgiveness is hard. Self forgiveness maybe the hardest kind. But over and over again, I practice it because there is really only one way to deal gracefully with your life and being human and that is through forgiveness. Each time I ignore the text from my daughter that she forgot her lunch again. Each time I am not volunteering for every (ok, any) possible field trip, class parent assignment that comes my way. Each time I let the ball drop on planning my son’s birthday party and we can’t get the “Big Kahuna” water slide and have to settle for the “not so Big Kahuna”. I forgive myself.
What I’ve learned is that self forgiveness and self love are two of those things that we should practice until we are really great at them – not perfect parenting, not perfect down dogs. And what I believe, looking back on how I’ve done things, on how I still do things is this: as it turns out, a lot of half assed can make one damn nice whole. Not to mention bum.