Often I find myself striving for my family. And this is good except when it isn’t. Except that they all can strive for themselves.
When my tween is sick and her teacher emails and asks if we can catch her up on some work before she comes back to school, everything in me aches as I read the email. I already pushed my youngest to do her reading tutoring and it took bribing her, a trip to Starbucks with my gift card.
Even as I say no, I think how much I want to push her to strive to be the best ever student. This vision of how I aimed to be the best student long ago stops me. Screech. Striving led to pats on my head and 5th place and 2nd place and my name on a column in the high school paper. Which led to never being good enough and so much time in my bed surrounded by too much darkness.
To strive. Like the locker poster I can still see in my head, pasted on the Seniors’ lockers one day during my high school years, an ad from Time Magazine: “To be the best. What else is there.” Lee Iacocca.
My new yoga class for people with bad backs is the antithesis of striving. The teacher laughs when she is nervous, and it reminds me that showing nerves is OK. And we almost do nothing in class and this is the closest my back and hip and calve muscles have gotten to feeling better in years.
To not strive. After I told the teacher no homework for the tween, I drove through so much rain to pick up my cranky teen. She unloaded her angst on me and I pushed my way through making dinner. And my husband walked in and said barely nothing and my grief and anger and tears erupted. I am so done with striving. My animal tears wouldn’t stop and they almost stopped me from going to yoga.
But my friend texted and says I could cry at yoga. She picked me up and took in my tears as we stood in the hallway where all the shoes watched us.
It’s OK to be angry, she said.
It’s OK to be full of grief about so many things, she said.
It’s OK to be tired from taking in your teen’s emotional energy. From being her safe place and taking all of her tears and angst in, she said.
And I can take your anger, your grief, your tiredness, and your tears, she said.
We’ll need a drop off time, I said.
And we chuckled just a bit as my tears found their end.
I walked into my gentle yoga class and practiced not striving. It’s a remarkably easy yet hard place to be. I think I’ll stay for a good long while.