Little Magnets

Go on give me a hug

“When they’re little, it’s like having a limb removed.” Ouch…

A sympathetic comment from a fellow single mum in response to me telling her earlier this evening that I didn’t have to rush home to my kids because they’re not at home tonight, they’re with their dad and his girlfriend, and although that’s not new in itself, it’s new because it’s a school night and so far they’ve been sleeping at home all through the week. I don’t like it (I hate it), but there is no escaping the fact that I’m just going to have to get used to it. Suckage.

I remember when the girls were little, maybe 2 and 4, maybe younger. We’d left them at their grandma’s for a few days and were on the way to pick them up. I’d had a brilliant time away from them but missed them of course, and the closer we got, the more I felt I was being pulled to them, like they were two tiny but super strong magnets and I was a big old horseshoe magnet that had been magnetised when they were born.

Just like a magnetic attraction, whilst far away there was a pull but it wasn’t that strong: I could turn from it, wrap myself up in sun and music and mediterranean seafood (not literally wrap myself in seafood, that would be weird); but now in the car, getting closer to them, it was powerful and I knew that when we got there I would be helpless, the kids and I would ping towards each other like magnets and hold on very tightly in big bear hugs (with little bears). I tried to put this feeling into words but he didn’t quite get it…

Not to be discriminatory against men or anything (would I?!) but it’s not the same for them. Without having grown the tiny bones and organs and toe nails and everything else for 9 months inside themselves, or made the milk that turned the tiny bodies into chubby babes, Dads just can’t have the same physical attachment. Yes Dads hold them and love them but it’s not the same. Doesn’t mean the love is any less strong or valuable, but it’s not the same. Maybe that’s the reason that so many men can walk away.

So is the limb removal analogy is a LITTLE dramatic?! Yeah, ok maybe… But for me it’s along the right lines. Maybe more like a digit removal? Or a fingernail? Urgh sorry… But my little ones are part of me, it doesn’t feel right that they’re not here with me at those times when they would usually be. Yes, the whole of parenthood is one long exercise of letting go, realising that magnetic force is getting weaker, allowing the beings that were literally once part of you become completely independent of you. Kahlil Gibran wisely said you are like the bow and the children are the arrows; you can point them in a certain direction but who knows where they will land? But that doesn’t really make it any easier. For me this serious letting go is coming so much sooner than I expected, and it’s really bloody hard.

There’s Nobody Telling You What To Do


The scene is something along the lines of how I imagine a pretty intense sixties LSD experiment might be…

A couple of people are rolling on the ground, some making distinctly inhuman noises, roars, screeches and hisses sound through the tent. Some other people seem to be dancing ecstatically, their bodies moving instinctively… the faint sound of hypnotic African drums drift in from somewhere beyond the tent. A few children are running in circles in and out of the moving bodies – they’re shrieking and laughing, sticking their tongues out at everyone.

A couple of them have yoga mats on their heads. Oh yeah, they’re my children.

It’s a little crazy.

But this isn’t some out-there party, and you’ll be glad to know there were no mind-altering substances involved. This is the yoga camp workshop I innocently joined that was called, rather vaguely and kind of misleadingly, “Fun Yoga”. Lovely, I thought, that sounds like a nice jolly class I can enjoy along with the the kids. Ha! I did not know what I was letting myself in for (and probably would have been too scared to do it if I had known) and would not have guessed that I’d soon be roaring, shrieking and rolling around with the best of them.

It happened like this…

Our rather brilliantly mischievous and inspiring teacher, Amanda Hamilton, started with the premise that yoga, and indeed everything else, can always be fun, but mostly it is we who stop ourselves having fun, always living by the ‘should’ – choosing what is expected, over what we want.

There’s nobody telling you what to do, her voice begins to chant, insistently. There’s nobody telling you what to do. There’s nobody telling you what to do.

The words are repeated, rising, urgent, playful, over and over…again and again. Suggestions of what we might want to do, how we might want to move, to feel free. My mind resists: she’s telling me what to do, even whilst she’s telling me that nobody’s telling me what to do! I don’t want to be free and crazy because of an instruction!

But I DO want to be free and crazy, and I go along with it… It’s embarrassing, awkward and then pretty liberating, hilarious and then (dare I say it) really fun. A kind of magical madness descends on our tent. The kids, initially completely confused by the fact that an adult is telling them they can do anything they want, look to me for reassurance, and then after some tentative miaows and woofs, pretty much go batshit (in a good way). Maybe seeing and hearing me channel my inner lion after rolling around on the ground like a drunken loon helped them let go?!

Our kids (and before them, us) are so used to being pushed into docile obedience from an early age: sit still, don’t talk, this isn’t time for playing, do what everyone else is doing… It’s drummed into us so much at school that it becomes our ‘normal’. The path to success is clearly defined and at your own risk be it if you dare to stray from it. Before we know it, we’ve been bundled through the school system and become locked in by jobs, mortgages, possessions, home improvements, more possessions… and the weight of our responsibilities can sometimes hang so heavy that we forget to have fun (or not having as much fun as we could be having anyway – speaking for myself here, I WANT MORE FUN!)

Instead we’re often moaning about something or other – too much work, shitty commute, bills so high, can’t afford that new kitchen, really need a new phone etc. etc. At those moments, it’s good to have a little reminder that Nobody’s telling you what to do – you’ve chosen this path so change it if you don’t like it, or choose to take it more lightly if you don’t want to change it. It’s always good to remember that perception is everything.

Kids can be our teachers when it comes to taking it lightly. If there’s one thing they’re good for, it’s comedy value. Pants on heads, endless poo jokes, marathon tickling sessions, toddlers falling over – there’s a lot to laugh about when you’re around little ones and they certainly do – have you heard the statistic about children laughing 300 times a day while adults only manage 17? Well unfortunately that’s apparently that’s an urban myth (and would mean children laugh approximately every 2 minutes the whole time they’re awake) but whatever the number it’s safe to say they laugh a lot more than most adults, and they have a LOT of fun, so why don’t we just take a leaf out of their little books on this one.

“Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.” said Eckhart Tolle – in fact  have you heard the one about life? Yes of course, the whole thing is just one big cosmic joke. All that stuff you worry about and take so seriously, it’s completely insignificant in the grand scale of things…ha ha ha! Well I suppose you could either laugh or cry.

Laughing is probably the better option, so here’s to lightening up, having more fun with and without kids, more rolling on the floor, more crazy dancing and many more ridiculous yet enlightening yoga classes.