This past Sunday, I took my daughter to a parking lot for her first driving lesson. It was supposed to be scary. It was supposed to be stressful. That's what the world tells you. "Oh my! Lookout! Another teenager is on the road!" Yes, I've made the jokes myself. But instead of white-knuckling the dashboard, instead of yelling, "the brake, the brake!!!" I actually enjoyed myself!
It was quite the lovely and rare bonding experience- a cherished moment between mom and daughter. I enjoyed her colorful commentary on the feel of operating the car. We had a good laugh when we discovered a "pygmy basketball hoop" and I couldn't help but get out of the car to mime a slam dunk. Pulling into a parking slot, putting the car in park, and jumping out to see how evenly she was between the lines, then trying it over and over again turned into a game. We made jokes, we laughed, we had a great time! The fear of her crashing my car was nowhere near that parking lot.
Recently during the conversation portion of my Prenatal Yoga class, it occurred to me that the anticipation of teaching my daughter to drive was kind of like the anticipation of labor. Lots of people tell you it's awful. They say, "Just get the epidural!" Every TV drama rushes mom to the OR and every comedy has mom yelling at her partner, "YOU did this to me!!!!" Of course expectant mamas are terrified!
But sometimes labor is awesome! Sometimes it's really hard work, and the feeling of conquering every contraction outweighs the pain tenfold. Sometimes there is laughter, jokes, or even overwhelming ecstasy! (See Orgasmic Birth.) Sometimes things take an unexpected turn, it wasn't the experience mom had hoped for, and nevertheless, she realizes the thing she most dreaded was not so bad after all. Yet, the prevailing message mothers hear is that labor is scary, difficult, and only worth it for the baby in the end. How do we shift our thinking so that however it unfolds we can find the joy, the strength, the triumph in the process?
Surrendering to the present moment, letting go of expectations, being with what is and detaching from what isn't...this is the key to finding joy- whether it's powering through labor or teaching your teen to drive or anything else for that matter! Mindfulness is a simple concept, that can be very challenging to implement. Fortunately, every moment is an opportunity to practice and it gets easier and easier the more one practices. The breath is always there as an anchor. Take a deep one and hand those keys over with a smile!