“When are we going to get going?” Chris says.
“What’s your hurry?” I ask.
“I just want to get going.”
“There’s nothing up ahead that’s any better than it is right here.”
-Robert M. Pirsig from ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’
Let’s be honest here. Zen and mothering do not compliment one another. I do not know much about Zen masters, but I’d be willing to bet very few are mothers. At least not mothers to children still living in their home. Zen is calm. It is peace and stillness and meditation. Mothering is the opposite of that. With intermittent glimpses of this other side.
I decide today is an ideal day to peek into the other side. Autumn colours, crisp air, and freshly snow-capped mountains are a gateway into practicing mindfulness. It is easy to be present when the present is so damn good. So I bundle up the girls and head out for a walk. A nature walk.
But first we must cross the highway.
Which consists of me pushing a 25lbs stroller with a crying 15lbs three month old and a 10lbs run bike hanging on the handle bars while holding a leash attached to a 50lbs dog with one hand while the other one clutches onto my 33lbs three year old while she tries to dart away to press the button that beeps so we can cross the highway.
“There’s nothing up ahead that’s any better than it is right here.” Breathe in. Breathe out.
I call bullshit. There sure as hell better be something better up ahead than it is right here. Please.
Okay, I can breathe again. We make it across and are on the trail to the river and through the woods. Our dog can go off her leash. Kaya can get on her run bike. Stroller is moving so Brennyn is content. Yes, I can breathe.
Until Kaya falls off her bike. I stop to brush her off and Brennyn cries again. Riley poops where she shouldn’t be.
We carry on. Well most of us. Kaya hangs back, pouting. She wants a snack, a drink and scratch on her head through her helmet. Done, done and done and now breathe.
Oh shit. I had closed my eyes while trying to bring myself to the moment. Smelling the rotting leaves and dewy ground. Feeling the crisp, brisk air. Back into the moment. Breathe. Until I hit Kaya on her bike with the stroller. Bam!
Fortunately she thinks this is hilarious and we giggle in the moment. Ah, I get a moment!
I actually get many moments this day. Walking on a path blanketed with fallen leaves of varying colours and shapes. We run, we laugh, we dance and we kick leaves high in the sky. It is a frolicking sort of day. At the river, we spread a blanket and have a picnic. The river gushes and the creeks crawl. We witness eagles swooping and salmon spawning. This is calm, peace, meditation.
Until it is too quiet. So my mind compensates by running rampant. Suddenly every falling leave in the forest has me in full alert that there is a cougar ready to attack. Or a bear, coyote or bum. My mother brain is in full worry mode. Then I scream one of those blood curtling screams worthy of a second rate horror. “Nooooooooooo!” There is no wild animal looming. No, this is a scream of disgust. Our dog is rolling, back and forth, wildly, psychotically. She has found a dead fish. Zen is gone. Long gone.
The moment, a culmination of them, are incredible. Nature and giggles, exercise and beauty. I don’t practice mindfulness, I just am. Until fishy dog, grumpy toddler, hungry baby and exhausted mamma invade. Moodiness and longing for naptime take paramount. We head home pouting. The lot of us.
Which is when I come across this scene:
Zen and the Art of the Potty. Yes, that kind of sums up my life.
In this moment.