Part Four: I Heard a Caged Girl Sing
I gingerly placed her sleeping body on the red microfiber sofa.
She twitched slightly, but continued to sleep heavily as long as her beating chest was touching mine. Whether through imagination or actuality, I’m still not sure, but I swear to this hour that I could feel her tiny heart pumping her mighty blood when my breast was pressed to hers.
She never naps and, while I don’t believe in saying never, I will faithfully say that she never naps.
Regardless, I’d transferred her skillfully—after much I-can’t-believe-she-fell-asleep-here practice—from my loving-mother arms within the cocoon of my rickety childhood rocker—the one with the skateboard ball bearings in it, thanks to my inventive husband—and onto the red couch. But then I couldn’t move.
Rather, I didn’t want to.
In that space of my life, I wanted to stay, right there, forever.
Rarely does that happen—I’ll admit I’m rather fidgety. I can’t even handle having both of my hands occupied, because it’s too confining and claustrophobic. I am not claustrophobic. (After all, I’ve spent nearly my entire life inside of a beautifully decorated, exquisitely hand-crafted cage.)
Yet, in that instance, so forbidden from deep breath and any movement at all—for fear of waking my slumbering child—I could not have been overly contained.
I feel vividly my difficult decision to let her rest, alone. I remember, next, walking away and unrolling my mat.
And although all I truly wanted to do was watch her sleep, I knew that I needed to practice.
My yoga practice centers and grounds me—it brings me back out of the life that I perpetually inhabit, inside of the imaginary but imprisoning six walls of my mind.
With my heater pumping—white noise for her and heat right by my chilly purple mat for me—I flowed.
Inhale, arms reach up.
Exhale, arms sweep down and around into prayer position in front of my chest—where I just held her.
Inhale, close my eyes and forget about my breath; set an intention for what lies ahead on my sticky mat—of course, I set an intention of love towards her.
And as I needfully moved my body in and back out of poses, I realized that I had more energy than I thought—and that I had more stamina in my beating (but tired) bosom than I recalled.
Sometimes I feel the weight of life with so much forceful pressure on my fragile bones, that it’s as if someone is trying to keep me from standing back up—and my yoga practice returns me to that place inside that doesn’t fluctuate with moodiness or feel life’s difficulty or even the bliss; that place within that some people might call a soul, and that I know is the only real thing about me, even if it’s the one piece that I can’t see or taste or touch.
Moreover, my practice reconnects me with those daily, tiny amusements that are too often skipped past—correlated incorrectly with a lack of importance instead of being taken in for what they really are: life.
The way that my feet stick and un-stick on my mat when I move.
The sensation of my heart reaching towards the sky when I shine my fingers there and then look up at them.
The miraculous awareness that my body is my home, as much as and as little as a sea-born animal inside of its temporary—but beautiful—shell.
I check on my daughter, still sound asleep on the red microfiber couch. She coughs and moves a little before falling back into dreams. The sun is setting, and her dad will be home from work soon. Quietly I open up the two hard pieces of plastic that make up my laptop and I sit down to write.
She’s immune to my clickity-clack, clickity-clack.
Situated near her, on the other side of the red sofa at our scratched, antique dining table, I let myself be washed over by a deep sense of tranquility—I give myself permission to feel joyful without needing a cause to justify it.
Because while life is undeniably difficult, it’s also an immeasurable well of wonder—and of love.
Obviously, I can be a serious sort of woman—don’t let this fool you.
I wanted to label the previous chapter “This One Goes to Eleven.” (If you don’t get that, please Google Spinal Tap.)
Also, don’t let my statements of rarely crying misguide either—because I’m starting to think that this might not be the case.
I’ve always said that if we are something, we don’t have the same need to shout it from the rooftops. Announcing ourselves with labels on a regular—and loud—basis primarily serves to prove that we wish we had this particular quality, but since, alas we don’t, we’ll declare it boldly for ourselves instead.
And the truth is that I’ve become significantly mistier in my advanced age. (I believe I’ve told you I’m in my thirties, and, while not an advanced age—that’s a joke—it’s definitely a pivotal place where it becomes wholly too much work to maintain something that we are not—even if this deceit has been hidden from us consciously.)
I’m absolutely determined not to be a water-works factory in front of my child—for many reasons I’ll get into later and a few I’ve already shared—but, simultaneously, I can’t encourage her to roam freely while I stay hidden inside of my own caged heart.
I can’t tell her that grown-ups are wrong when they tell us not to cry or that life isn’t sometimes so breezy that we get swept completely off our feet, when she’s fifteen and had her heart broken for the first time.
I can’t help her live from the depths of her authentic soul if I don’t, correspondingly, live from my own. (Well I can, but she’ll likely see through that before she’s even gotten to middle school.)
So here I am, screaming from the rooftops—or from the front of a purple rubber yoga mat situated near a red couch—that I’m a woman who loves—who needs—to laugh and joke and play and smile and cry and weep and feel.
And sometimes she’ll find her mommy howling at a bright, circular moon or hidden underneath soft blankets on a red sofa—and I’m sharing this sensitive, inquisitive, intense true self with the world because I want her to do the same.
Because I don’t want to someday find her—singing herself to sleep—inside of a dark and lonely cage.
Photo credits: ajari/Flickr; Author’s own.