There's a post or discussion or something, maybe it was part of a workshop that I missed and heard about, by Kino MacGregor, about "loving a challenge," specifically (in that context) about hard poses. Love that hard pose, see it coming, savor every bit of that struggle.
Now, it's easily possible to nutshell this into one of those "uplifting yoga nuggets" that might sound like this: "Every challenge is worth it." This sounds great and means nothing, like most "uplifting yoga nuggets."
It's like bad Advaita (the key paraphrase of which is, "everything is the creation of your mind, so change your mind and you change your everything"--and that SOUNDS LOVELY but can't be done, it's simply impossible). But actual wisdom isn't far from the language of bad Advaita, which is why I titled this post what I did.
Being aware of what a challenge has given you is entirely different from simply stating that the challenge is worth it. People with no idea what they're being challenged by or to, can say that it's worth it. Hell I've said that a billion times and not believed it; it's the statement of the leap of faith. "I know this is worth it!" If you say it enough times, God listens (or Whoever) and gives you the key, right?
So what am I thinking about, exactly?
Here's some of the local and nearby: today we had a sick kid, with barfing of all food and all liquids for about twelve hours. When he's sick, he regresses, but now that he's 28 months old, regression only goes back to about half that, so maybe 14 months, and he was fun at 14 months. Managing a lot of single words, a few phrases, lots of fun babytalk, managing to sort of verbally express some emotions. A big uptick in his "humanity" over say the first six months, when you could tell he was human but he didn't yet have the cognitive/emotional sophistication to show it.
So now, regression means he's still "a kid," whereas when he WAS 14 months old, he'd regress straight out of language and into pure emotional need and crying and the parents would have to get every tool in the kit out, to guess what would make it better (or if it could be made better).
And I cared for him all morning from the 8 am barf in his carseat in my car (yuck!) to the liquid lunch he also barfed up, and then went to school to do my screening for a class (film screening, that is) and then did more baby care tonight, and we were sitting on the couch watching kid DVD's and he'd lean over on me and it'd be super cute and snuggly and such (please note that you can count the number of times that I've used such vocabulary here, on one hand, easily).
And a couple hours ago I was thinking of that, and I realized, "Wait, THIS is the payoff of his first year, this is the degree of emotional care that I can give ON REQUEST now, without feeling at all put out."
When he was just a few months old, J said to me, "Well, imagine that he's a sick cat," and I said, "Ok, but NO SICK CAT IN THE UNIVERSE needs this much attention!" That's the nugget right there. It's HARD to give constant emotional and physical support to someone, especially if you're not used to it or haven't had to do it or your gender role says it's "not what you do" (and yeah of course I know gender roles are fluffy nonsense, but still, this isn't bad Advaita; you inherit both abilities and inabilities from what gender tells you before you learn to listen and select).
So that is clearly something that I learned and acquired from those days. I can give fairly intense emotional support, without anger, without resentment, without needing payback. This is something the first year of his life taught me to do.
Recently, despite huge life stress, J and I have been friendlier to each other (no, no euphemism hides in there, although if I chose to hide one, that would also be true). More (short) conversations, and not as much snippiness, not as much correction, not as much inability to figure out what the other one is saying, not as much friction generally.
Last Thursday J got an ambiguous mammogram result and this Thursday morning she will get a re-scan to see if it's all benign or not. Her two best friends from college have had run-ins with breast cancer; one died of it in March of this year. The other is clear right now. This seems to have pulled her back a bit from work-and-child-and-I-don't-see-you, which is how I've paraphrased her relationship with me since about 2009, and we've become a bit warmer and more human to each other, although her statement was, "I can't leave the child, I have to be ok for him" which is true but leaves me totally out of it :D It was ok, I was kind of amused by that.
So this is life, how interesting.
I wish I could clearly pull these parent-life-lessons into teaching the yoga and say something totally profound, but it's pretty fuzzy. I can't clearly say, "This affects my emotional handling of the room in blah-blah way" although I do have more support for my regulars than I used to have, but that could be just the depth that my regulars are putting in; it could be the teacher-student relationship alone, or in combination with the parenting lessons, combined in some algebra I'm not fully aware of yet.
In any case, despite the losses of Larry in February and our family friend in March and my father in May, 2011 has seen the Great Blossoming of the Indianapolis ashtanga scene, this is for certain. One can't shout it down as a year of painful lessons, not totally.
Fourteen people in my yoga room this past Sunday. Classes of 8-10 almost all year since February, with a low of maybe 4 a couple times, and then highs of 14-18. But I would say 8-9 is my regular crew, and it's a different crew from what Carol gets on Monday nights (some crossover, but not the same) and it's different from what Amanda gets on Thursday nights, and so our total regular ashtanga population is maybe even as high as 25 in town, and most of those people Mysore-style it, because we teach and encourage Mysore-style (well, a variation where you memorize/do Primary on your own, and take your best shot at the hard poses, so not classical "you stop here" Mysore-style, except in a few cases) rather than full led classes.
So there, that's what the Great Parenting Challenge brought me, at least, that's the first thing I fully realize, in practical terms and in full daylight, that it has brought. Everyone says it keeps bringing things. There is no doubt.
And I realize too, that what I want from J is just for her to be nice to me sometimes, a glance or a hug or a friendly conversation that's not about the upcoming university assessment. Nothing cosmic or hyper-intellectual (although those are both nice) is required, just some basic human affection and allowances to, as Rick Hanson put it once, "have a practice" (he wasn't talking about the yoga, but about Buddhist practice generally).