Off the Mat: Independence


Heat has me up early. Serendipitous, since perennials from a neighbor’s garden need to get into the ground. With soil and space they’ll bloom beautifully without much assistance. At this moment though, they’re still dependent on me.

Once outside, I’m unwittingly drawn to the overgrown flowerbed by the patio. A mix of should and want rise within me every time my gaze lands here, which is often, given its location across from the kitchen window. It’s been a four year desire to clear this bed. I’ve toyed with it a few times, until shovel meets root bound resistance or halfhearted weeding leaves the area looking like a bad haircut.

Today, it’s less a decision and more a reaction. Oh, I guess I’m ready to do this. Perhaps due to dampness from recent excessive rain, this attempt feels easy – notably different from the last few times I’ve tried and given up. Separate bulbs. Root out weeds. Uncover perennial treasures left by a previous garden mama.

As a reasonable hour dawns, my house wakes up. We join briefly for meals but mostly go about our own Saturday projects. Weeding near the street, I hear my son and his friend squeal in the back yard. It occurs to me I hadn’t been monitoring their whereabouts at all. Focused on dirt and weed, lost in my own independent thoughts. 


When I’m ready, I’ll want to do that. He was five when he uttered this truism. So him. So accurate. Late to walk, early to talk, long to separate. And yet, when he’s ready, he’s ready. I remind both of us of his words when trying something new. Rushing him will only stress us both out. When ready, he’ll want to do that.


Do do, he’d say, chubby palm thumping chest, indicating himself. Early and often. Toddler insistence of independence. He wasn’t ready, yet he wanted to do that – whatever that was. The age old mother’s dilemma of independence versus efficiency.

One particular morning, he was quiet, a little too quiet. I peeked out the kitchen door and spotted a little body hunched in the hallway, attempting to strap on a Velcro sandal. Moments stretched on, until victory was heralded by the step-slap-step-slap sound of one shoe off one shoe loosely on, kiddo toddling toward the kitchen, grinning triumphantly.


For years, he was constantly stuck to my side, those Velcro days of early childhood. Wasn’t it just yesterday he was unwilling to venture three feet to the monkey bars, clinging to this same skirt, elastic waistband offering the too real threat of disrobing me? Now, indifferent to my location, he wanders across woodchips to where his friend plays. When I circle back to point out where I’m sitting in the shade, he flashes a confident thumbs up, no need for me to come closer.

Last 4th of July, we celebrated post-barbeque by sitting in the shade, each reading independently. This year, he’s sleeping over at a friend’s house. Is he ready for that? His delighted grin answers before his words do. Am I ready?

So I savor the things he wants to do with me – holding my hand in line at Six Flags AND riding the Gotham Gauntlet by himself. No really, I don’t need to ride it again. Enjoy your independence.

[Photo credit: (cc) Bernard Spragg]


Ginny Hamilton

Pain specialist, yoga instructor, and Reiki practitioner Ginny Hamilton teaches simple & proven techniques to release pain & restore energy in the workplace, group classes & private sessions. She has put down roots in South Amherst with her spouse and young son. Daily she’s amazed by the beauty the Pioneer Valley offers, though her allergies beg to differ. In Off the Mat, Ginny explores how yoga’s physical and mindfulness exercises help her parent and how parenting shapes her yoga practice.

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