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Monday, October 24, 2011

Age, Privilege, and Monday Morning Yoga Play Dates.

This morning I took Tova to a yoga play date class at Practice Yoga, the studio I've been going to on and off since I was pregnant with Kiedis. I think it's one of the first places I ventured to alone downtown as an effort to become more comfortable with the ghettohood in stark contrast with my suburban upbringing.

Anyway, it's taught by a lady who was in that prenatal class with Kiedis with me and it's while he's at school and I have a few free passes because one of the owners is an awesome lady who took care of me in they ways she could when Kyle and I weren't together (with food and free yoga, both things I won't stick my nose up at even during an extreme crisis) and she gave them to me during Urban Nights, so I figured why not try again and get Tova some socialization while getting a good stretch on, right? The concept is that there are toys for the babies & kids to play with while the moms go through an easy asana, and it's very laid back for yoga (like it can be loud because there are babies around playing, obviously) and this way the kids can play together and maybe learn some yoga while the moms get a stretch and some me-time without needing a sitter. It's win-win, really, if you're into yoga and need to get your kid out more often.

See, when Tova was ... maybe six months old? and Kiedis was, well, newly two then I guess, I tried to do this alone with both of them and it was a DISASTER. Tova suddenly freaked out about being out of the house or something and literally clung to me screaming at the top of her lungs, Kiedis was running around also screaming, terrorizing the other kids and he had a poopy diaper he refused to let me change ... let's just say it wasn't Zen for ANYONE there that day. I also got in a small accident getting there (it's less than two miles from my house, and on good weather days I could totally walk there) so I figured this was the universe telling me that maybe I shouldn't go and so I spared everyone else my walking catastrophe and didn't return the following week.

Fast forward to today, and I thought, well, why not try again?

So we got ready and headed over and it was quite nice. Tova played well with others and I got some good stretching in and met another mom who had also been in my prenatal class when I was pregnant with Kiedis (who is just now pregnant with her second, if that illustrates anything) and the teacher hinted at perhaps having some hand-me-downs for Tova from her daughter and, you know, besides realizing that a piece of my car had fallen off in the parking lot across the street upon my return (what is up with that, car?) it was what I hoped events like this would be like with really either of my kids.

That's the thing about being a special needs parent -- dreams of going to a kid-friendly yoga class kind of go out the window after you realize it won't be fun for anyone involved. You have to learn to find the things where the people are understanding and the events are age-appropriate and the timing is right between naps and as you can imagine, that's a rare trifecta to stumble upon.

All of that to say at the very end of class we moms were talking about age differences between siblings and while I was catching that I was the only non-cloth-diaperer in the group (also the only non-extended-breastfeeder, which brought up small dregs of guilt until I reminded myself that each baby is different and I did what was best for mine which did not include nursing forever) I mentioned that Kiedis was born a week after my 25th birthday and Tova was born six months after my 26th birthday.

The lobby got really quiet as the moms, all of whom I would have classified as my age-ish, all looked at me, mouths slightly agape.

"Wow, you're so young!" one of them said. I shrugged it off and said something about the kids coming on their own terms and being both unexpected surprises and moved about getting out the door so we could meet Kiedis' bus.

But I couldn't shake it as I drove home, what that meant. My insecurity grabbed me for more than a second, questioning how old I look without make up, how old I put off that I am to other people. No one seemed to consider my age to be different than theirs until I said something, and quickly searching their faces didn't bring any clarity to their ages -- I still would have classified them as my age. Momentarily I wondered if my face just looks older than I am, but seeing as I quit smoking when I met Kyle and haven't drank like I used to pre-kids and have been eating healthier and getting my weight back under control (and that I still break out like I'm 15 every month) I hoped that that wasn't so much the case.

I tried to shrug it off, though, as more how I act than how I look. I began to think about the things that comprise the activities of a "good" stay at home mom, and how I still manage to do a lot of them despite being young and this side of bankrupt. We work really hard to have a good life even though we're young and have babies and live on one public school teacher's income. We make choices, as everyone does, based on our morals and values and yes, our wants and desires.

This past six weeks have been rough financially for sure -- part of that is due to the choices we've made, and part is just due to a whole host of factors out of our control. We also, at 27 (nearly 28 for Kyle, which blows my mind because I've known him since we were 21, how the hell can he be almost 28 when it doesn't seem like we've been together all that long) don't want to have to fall back on the older adults around us to help us along the way all the time. We want to make it on our own as much as possible, and it is hard for us to accept help for ourselves. For the kids is something totally different, as we never want them to go without or to be held back due to our finances, but for just Kyle and I, we don't like to ask for help unless we really don't know how else something will be taken care of.

We don't have much, but I'd argue that we do well for what we have.

So maybe it's that not many late 20-somethings have the available time and income to go to a yoga class on a Monday morning with their baby. It's true that most of the friends I have who are parents or not are working while I'm sitting here typing this out for your entertainment. I'm very lucky that I can stay home and pursue this passion, that we make it work every month on less than most people's mortgage payments. And yeah, that means we go without a lot of things that our dual-income counterparts consider non-negotiables.

But I don't hate our life, even if it is super stressful due to money more than I care to admit, and even if that does mean that sometimes we have to swallow our pride when my friends and family are the reason we make it to the next paycheck due to their kindness, generosity, and overall good heartedness. We go without  but I'd venture to say we don't suffer for it most of the time.

So when I get frustrated that we can't go out on a date night or that I can't buy the kids Halloween costumes but have to make them instead, that's my suburban upbringing popping through, thinking that the privilege my parents worked so hard to provide myself and my brother is somehow a legacy thing and not something each generation has to earn. We'll get there, as my parents did, because that's what we want for our family. And I'm very lucky to be surrounded by people who help us out in the ways they can and that I still get to experience a great deal of the things I want to because of (or sometimes despite) the choices we make as a family.

We are fortunate, we really are.

And I don't show my gratitude enough, to everyone who has made it possible for us to be where we are today, however they've done that.

So I'm sending this out into the universe, with hopes that those people recognize themselves in these words and know how dearly I love and appreciate them for being the village we can fall back upon to help us raise our kids ... and ourselves, a bit.

Thank you, from the bottom of the heart.

Thank you.