Friday, January 27, 2012

The Space Between the Breaths

water in a cenote, Tulum, Mexico
I'm teaching a creative writing workshop today as part of Urban's "Winter Festival"—a day when we step away from our usual classroom practices to take part other activities. This year's theme is "Treat Yourself." Since we don't have a dedicated creative writing class at Urban, just having time to write about anything non-academic is treat enough for many students. I do want to have some structure for students who may not have an ongoing writing project. So we're writing about places and things we think of as treats.

I'm thinking right now of an idea that a yoga teacher (probably Abby) mentioned years ago, about paying attention to the space in between the breaths. When you're in the middle of an asana class, it's easy to focus only on the movement and the inhale and exhale. But there is a sweet moment, between the release of the exhale and the fullness of the inhale, that is the space between the breaths. Too often we fail to notice that space. Those brief pauses between one thing and the next are crucial, however. An inhale is not an exhale.

I think about the space between the breaths often these days—I long for more spaces. And more breaths! I want a space between coming in the door from work and picking up both children who want to be picked up and carried. I want more space between baby bedtime and starting the grading grind.

I could give myself more space. It's just a matter of remembering to stop and take a breath. Sometimes, the house is gloriously silent. I update my status on Facebook: "All the boys are napping. Ahhhh." Before the status update, before the laptop opens: there too is the space between the breaths.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Just over a year ago.

Nick and Dash turn one today.

I can't say that I've accomplished anything more difficult or more rewarding in my life than year one with twins. Mostly difficult. The rewards, I hear, come later. Right now they come in fragments, like when they're having fun at the park, or when the two of them play almost together as I make dinner. Or when we're all snuggling close, I and my boys, nursing before bedtime—the only time of day when I even attempt to tandem nurse them anymore.

We have all learned so much in this longest and shortest year. I have learned more this year about flexibility, adjustment, and improvisation than I thought I could ever learn. I've learned to value routines and schedules and to try to go with the flow when things are crazy.

I've learned that tenacity is good. Those first three months of relentless pumping and nursing and trying over and over again to get it right were so worth it. I'm proud of the work I have done. Breastfeeding twins has been the hardest part of the journey—or maybe the second-hardest. The tag-team wakeups from 1 to 4 a.m. might be the hardest thing.

I've learned that children are amazingly capable creatures. I've learned that babies can feed themselves and love eating. I've learned to wait and watch instead of urging and pushing. Given a chance to explore what they want to explore, Nick and Dash do what suits them best: collaborating, digging and climbing, toddling and observing, wanting to get picked up and wanting to slide down. They understand more than you'd think (like what "bath time" means), and they love to have fun.

I've learned to watch them learn. What a treasure that lesson has been.

So much bigger now!