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the yoga pose: letting go-asana

2013 September 5
by Rachel Turiel


We’re at the river beach, the one we’ve been trundling down to for six years, each summer the kids inexplicably one year older. I watch, bewildered, as their long legs propel them to the shore, as if the physics of 365 days passing is a concept I haven’t yet grasped. Col and Rose and their friend Cedar sail off in an inner tube and come back with a fat, warty toad, who seems unalarmed with the turn of events. Matters of ownership are discussed (Col spotted it, Rose caught it, Cedar is an amphibian expert), and the three friends dig a pond for “Piezer Blubber.” The toad seems to shrug complacently, like a Jewish 1940’s comedian one moment you’re catching flies, next moment they’re catching you, eh, what can you do? as the kids place the toad on his bark ramp, offer him a few sandy ants, and reroute the warty bag of him back to his pond.


I’ve been here on a million weekdays and it’s always the outdoor playstation for the baby-toothed set, but today is Sunday, and the beach is colonized by loud, lanky, muscled, bikinied, cussing humans. Teenagers. They’re drinking beer and smoking cigarettes and likely not wearing sunscreen. I watch them like a nervous anthropologist: surely these teenagers are a different line of modern human than what my children will evolve into. Like Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, this is where we part ways. Co-ed groups are circled up, pheromones boomeranging back and forth between acres of exposed skin. Their brains seem developed precisely for sarcasm and loud whoops.

And yet, in twice the years my kids have already been alive (which really is the blink the grandmothers warned about), they too will be teens. And I can kid myself now, as they fawn over a warty toad and laugh at my jokes with gaping mouth-holes of missing teeth, that they won’t someday show up, acned and posturing, to receive their Oscar for Most Surly and Secretive Teen. Of course they will.


But now is now, and today I hand them the Oscar for Mental Buoyancy. Their kid-minds are cheery well-lit places where the bucking broncos of kindness, wonder and curiosity can’t be tamed. Just before we hit the river beach, Cedar’s mom Julia texted to ask if her car keys had gotten transferred to Cedar’s beach bag in the kid drop off. Without being asked, Col volunteered to run the keys back on the trail to the parking lot. And my heart folded in on itself, like a telescoping organ collapsing from so much maternal pride.


Give these children a park full of trees and they see a course for hide and seek. Give them cardboard and duct tape and they’ll riff like musicians on a thousand different engineering melodies. While their femurs and earlobes grow, so do the lesser known organs of generosity and courage. Last week, riding bikes to the river, we spied two spotted deer fawns ambling up a slope. One second later, Rose was splayed on the concrete, bike toppled over her. The world went silent and still—our family’s collective breath held—until Rose shouted earnestly from underneath the heavy purple metal of her bike, “Look! There’s the Mama deer!” It was as if she finally tired, just a little, of starring in the movie, It’s All About Me.


That was then (5 days ago): 16 inch bike.


This is now: 20 inch bike.

And yet, as quick as everything new clamors to the surface, so much is shed. Each year is a peeling away of layers. I’ve given away slings and kid-toting backpacks, cribs, kid-potties and a hundred stackable, squeaking, soft toys. I’ve given up the nursing rocker in which I spent the better part of six years cradling someone’s milk-scented head to my chest. Out went the 12-inch bikes, and just last week the 16-inch bikes. Sometimes it feels like parenthood is simply the practicing of the yoga pose, the letting go-asana, which looks something like this: knees and head bent to the earth in prayer position in immense gratitude for these golden lives, while your children inch a few steps further away.

The toad floats around its makeshift pond. The teenagers strut and preen like the beautiful, wild animals they are. Col, Rose and Cedar hold a summit on where to release Piezer, and are so democratic and skilled, I want to sign them up to lead Congress’ next Communication Retreat. Somedays I see the one thousand poses of letting go already behind me, and the thousands yet ahead, and am grateful for being right in the middle with these kids at the river on a gorgeous September day.


23 Responses leave one →
  1. September 5, 2013

    Haven’t read for the summer and so glad I started again with this post. Love how you detail everything Rachel. The kids are getting so big and lovely grown. ♥

  2. Ellie permalink
    September 5, 2013

    What an exquisite piece of writing, Rachel. Beautiful and inspiring, as always. Working with teenagers, and coming home to the four- and seven-year old set, I relate to your wishful thinking daily: ” I watch them like a nervous anthropologist: surely these teenagers are a different line of modern human than what my children will evolve into.” At the same time, I adore teenagers–pheromones, sarcasm, and all–so there is hope.
    Thank you.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      September 7, 2013

      The truth is that I’m intimidated by teenagers. But since writing this I’ve realized that in my philosophical paradigm that we benefit from mingling with people outside of our age bracket, maybe I could use some teenagers to mix and mingle with. Looking into this.

  3. September 5, 2013

    OMG! what a(nother) entry!!!!
    feeble ilg bows and bows and bows…

    you crushed this piece and that image of the rainbow streaming into (out from) Rose’s crown chakra was $$$$!

    i would like to maybe take a look at Roses’ bike fit on that 20″r…

    head bowed,
    spirit vowed,
    { }

  4. Emmanuelle permalink
    September 5, 2013

    Oh Rachel. Here I am finding my way back to my computer after a month away in France, and in spite of a translation I should be finishing instead, I stumble on this fireflies dance of yours.

    Your words are simply coming alive at every turn like so many Rosies and Coleys, toads and frogs, fawns and does: springingly and wisely, just so.


  5. September 5, 2013

    Brilliantly put, as always. Just so you know, your writing always leaves me feeling calmer, more peaceful, and more ready to greet another day with my own children, even when you don’t write a single word of advice. I don’t know how you do it, but I’m grateful. xo

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      September 7, 2013

      You are my new public relations manager!

  6. Ellen permalink
    September 5, 2013

    Wonderful. I celebrate your beautiful writing and the wonderful spirits of the kids. They may be secretive and surly one day — but then one day beyond that, they will emerge as the kind and thoughtful beings that they are now becoming — and they’ll marvel at their mother’s wonderful writing and their amazing childhoods.

  7. September 5, 2013

    You have such a way with words. It’s like I’m right beside you, yet it feels like a story from a long time ago. Absolutely beautiful.

  8. September 6, 2013

    I know I know! it goes too quick. My husband and I were clearing the garage last week. We decided we should really give the cot to charity. We put it in the car, then we couldn’t go through with it and got it back out again. *Sigh*

  9. susan permalink
    September 6, 2013

    I love to read what you write!

  10. September 6, 2013

    oh thank you. i am right there with you, but with an 11-yr old whose eye might have been on the teens and not on the toad…breathe in, breathe out…they are such fabulous creatures, these kids. thank you for stopping time for even the briefest of moments.

  11. September 6, 2013

    Oh Rachel, this is lovely. And I hear you. Stella will be ten next week, and it’s as if I can feel time passing, speeding up. So I’m trying to celebrate the young person she is and is becoming. This is a beautiful reminder for all of us to do that.

  12. Susan S permalink
    September 6, 2013

    I have been interested for a long time to see what happens when home-schooled kids hit puberty. Your kids haven’t been through the conformity factory that, regrettably, is so often what public school turns out to be. Puberty is about trying one’s wings, but I wonder if there will be less rebellion because your kids haven’t been squashed into a box all this time? I love it that your children are sweet and adventuresome and creative and curious and contemplative and total kiddos all at the same time. Huge high kudos to you and Dan.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      September 7, 2013

      Yes. I wonder this too. I read once that much teenage rebellion comes from teenagers being adults physiologically, but not yet given a chance to contribute in a useful way to their community, which is a big part of meaningful adulthood. They are capable, and yet not given the responsibility they’re ready for. And so they get stuck being treated like kids in these very adult bodies. Will be testing this theory in years to come. :)

  13. September 6, 2013

    I love it when you do this :)

  14. Andrea permalink
    September 6, 2013


  15. Melissa permalink
    September 6, 2013

    Just as I was offering my rocker to my pregnant girlfriend, my letting-go asana became something quite different–and now I’m back in it, rocking away the sciatica at 34 weeks and humbled by it all! Humbled, too, by your writing, again and again! Xo an shana tovah!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      September 7, 2013

      Shana tovah! Spent Rosh hashana singing hebrew songs (all learned at Kee Tov, circa 1980) with my new Israeli friends (and not eating apples dipped in honey) and dying of happiness.

  16. Amy Carney permalink
    September 8, 2013

    Beautiful and exactly how I feel… kiddos are 11,9 & 5 I still have my rocker and changing table knowing I don’t need them anymore but just not ready to let them go! Thanks for sharing you are an amazing writer!

  17. dan permalink
    September 9, 2013

    Honey, this was such a fun and gorgeous post, thank you for noticing all the details and sharing with such introspection! I like the way you described Rosie’s folly after spotting the deer… Love, Dan

  18. September 28, 2013

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    Look forward to looking into your web page for a second time.

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