"Can I play the Elmo game?" Buttercup hands me my her Nintendio dsi and the game cartridge and waits patiently for me insert the game and turn the system on. "Thank you, Mama." She settles onto her belly and crosses her feet in the air behind her. "Do you need anything else?" I take a quick glance around her room. Water bottle-check. Snack cup with pretzels-check. Baby monitor on-check. "Mama is going to my room now to do my yoga. I'll be right across the hall." "Okay, Mama," she says, sweetly. I should have known better. "Mama! I have to go potty!" Her voice echoes back on to itself through the baby monitor. "Mama! I can't get my pants!" I'm not even two breaths into Mountain pose yet. Dammit. I sigh, pause the DVD, and trip over the puppy and step on a squeaky toy as trudge across the hall to her bathroom. I find Buttercup trying to wiggle out of her cotton play pants. "Oh hi, Mama!," she says as I walk into the room. "Look! I can do it myself!" She proceeds to pull down her pants, set her potty seat on the toilet, climb up onto her stool, and sit herself down. "I couldn't before! But now that you are here, I can! Isn't that silly?" I fold my arms across my chest. Little stinker. "Okay, baby. Good job. Let's get you settled back in your room and then Mama needs to finish her DVD so we can play after." "Okay, Mama," she says. Again, her voice is sweet and full of promise. I try to clear my mind to focus on my breathing, push the puppy away once more, and adjust my feet and stance for proper alignment. Mountain pose. Triangle pose. Warrior. "Mama! I need you!" Mother of... I shake myself from my Yoga haze. "What do you need?" I ask from where I am standing. "I want to play! I want you!" "Can I finish my exercise first so I can be healthy and strong?" I pray for a yes. I need Yoga to relax myself and my overactive mind. I need Yoga to strengthen my core and fight the muffin top. And I need five consecutive minutes to get through one freaking pose. "Mama!" She is crying now but stops cold and breaks into an immediate smile, the last fat tear backtracking as if caught in its own lie, as soon as I come into her line of sight. I make a mental note to sign her up for acting lessons as soon as possible. "Oh, Mama!" she says, sounding believably surprised. I imagine the agents tripping over themselves to represent my future Broadway star. "What are you doing here?" I swear under my breath and remind myself that she is three. An evil little genius, but three, nonetheless. "Baby," I say, "Mama needs this. I gave you time this morning and I will give you more time after I do Yoga, but I need this time for me. Can you please play by yourself for just a little bit longer?" The DVD is 40 minutes long, but I'll be happy with 10 more. Just to squelch the urge to go play in traffic. "Can I go with you? I want to be healthy and strong, too." Her eyes are wide and hopeful. Knowing full well having her in the room with me is going to do no more for my concentration than stopping every five minutes to see what she needs, I say yes. If I can find inner peace while trying to do Yoga with a three-year-old, I'm pretty sure I can find it anywhere. She hugs me. We sit down and she copies my movements as I settle into Cobbler's pose. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breath in. Breathe... "Mama! Look! I am doing it just like you!" "Yes, baby. You are." My eyes are closed. The puppy is licking my toes again. My voice is calm. I am Mother. Hear me...relax.
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