Off the Mat: 10 Years of Motherhood

Double Digit Practice

“Our bodies are moving energy,” my yoga teacher has reminded me for a decade. Interactions with my son confirm this truth. He runs laps to discharge energy between marathon LEGO builds or train layouts. Even when he’s physically still – fully absorbed in a book or making music – you can sense an active current moving underneath his calm surface. His words flow as fast as his body, though seemingly not as quickly as his ever spinning thoughts. I’m reminded of whirling dervishes, performing the Sufi dance of devotion. Ecstatic movement as a path toward stillness. Mere days away from double digits, he still must move to concentrate.

Double digits. Ten. Ten is moving energy.

Ten embraces stuffed animals and pop stars, hamsters and hair gel. Ten provides monosyllabic answers about details of the day yet enthusiastic run-on sentences describing Minecraft command blocks and try not to laugh memes. Ten travels without parents but not without aunties, holding it together for a big kid weekend of restaurants and museums and theater. Disintegrating upon returning home.

Ten saves the meltdown for Mama.

Ten gets creative with meltdowns. Resorts to robot voice, declaring a power failure, counting down to complete shutoff in 5…4…3… I play along, scooping him up (awkwardly. Ten is too big to carry, almost.) Plopping him in bed fully clothed, we negotiate enough battery charge to shed clothes and brush teeth. But the wild sillies return. Too late to run laps, he wraps his skinny body in cozy bedding, wiggles and bucks to discharge. Moving energy.

Ten gets grossed out by even the most modest of screen kisses, hiding behind hands, asking “is it over?” Valentines are still about friendship, and candy, of course. Ten balks at play dates. Fourth graders don’t play, I’m corrected. They hang out. Even so, hanging out includes taking turns with new toy trains. Ten embodies the struggle of those who still want to play pretend and those pretending to be older.

An ancient memory surfaces, my fourth grade winter, greeted with cocoa by Mom and my college sister home on break. I remember relief. The comfort of Mom’s lap, a luxury I rarely allowed myself anymore. I don’t remember the social specifics that had me hurt, confused. I do remember not wanting to share specifics. Just wanting the felt sense of safety. Welcome. Love. Being little again for a little while that afternoon.

Ten means learning to contain feelings. Skin just tough enough to be able hold it together. Calloused feet for running barefoot. Calloused fingertips to pick guitar. I want him to be comfortable in his own skin, so every scratchy tag of life doesn’t set him squirming. And I want him soft-skinned enough to feel. To retain his full-bodied pleasure in life. To stay aware of the information his body provides.

Ten asks to be tucked in, then turns the light back on to read. For now at least, I still get to kiss his warm, smooth forehead each night, whispering my love before heading to bed myself. I know it is only a matter of time before he’ll outlast me at night – likely grunting at the intrusion of me entering his domain.

Ten encompasses both wild things: Max in his wolf suit finding his supper still hot and the heart-song inspiring, groovy muse of the oldies song.

Ten marks my own milestone. Motherhood, obviously, but also in yoga. I was pregnant during the year of my yoga teacher training. Yoga and motherhood are forever intertwined in my body, my mind.

Motherhood at ten requires the lessons of yoga;finding the balance of flow and containment, as my teacher says. Like water, our energy becomes stagnant if too still, yet loses its depth if we let it flow too freely, without containment. In her writing, master yoga teacher Anodea Judith reminds me “to find consistency within change is to embrace the unfolding flow.” Motherhood at ten embraces moving energy with open arms.


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.

[Photo credit: (cc) Marceline Smith]

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