from the campy desk of the yogi doula

After we returned from our year in Israel we spent a month at a camp in Canada, where Jonah taught judaism and I taught yoga. Camp had cool nights, hot afternoons, beautiful lake, a huge open sky, and a few open-minded, thoughtful individuals I will not forget. I learned how children of different ages play and learn and appreciate.

But the cooking spray had butane and propane in it. I missed our organic vegetable delivery in Jerusalem. The highly programmed days and manner of discipline were not my style. Through my own scheduling hiccup, I was busy during free swim. Bina spent mornings at daycare, and even though I worked there, for the first time I did not control her environment. She learned to say MINE like a champ, played dress-up princess barbie, and wanted cookies and chips and dear g!d egg rolls and fruit loops. And it was EVERYWHERE. Our first weeks I was not a happy camper.

“Dear Mom,

The food is bad. I don’t relate to these people. I’m homesick.”

I was out of my comfort zone.

Then, after falling in love with the special needs campers that I was not even sure I wanted to teach in the beginning, I began to notice how excellent the camp is at nourishing this program. I realized that this institution does have ideals (duh?), even if many of them are different from mine.

I’ve been learning I can’t nay-say everything (even when research and intuition are in my favor). Because, among other reasons, I’ll probably start teaching my daughter to complain a lot.

And really, why complain? I woke up every morning for a lakeside yoga sadhana. I made a difference at the daycare as morning snack collector (bye, bye candy before noon). My schedule changed and I was in the lake every afternoon until dinner (that was huge). I loved how my 15-year-old girls were so dedicated. I loved how the 15-year-old-boys feigned ambivalence but focused and giggled and asked questions at the end of a session. And I loved watching Bina navigate her environment. I might have preferred different food choices, but I couldn’t have asked for any better interpersonal choices. She started saying, “I don’t say it’s mine. I say, CAN I HAVE IT?” (kvell).

Fast forward to now, where we returned to NY and are finally settled. There are still things that I don’t especially want her to have like cheerios and plastic toy strollers. I can explain and model, or take a strong stand when the situation truly calls for it. But as she ages and I have less control, I can learn to accept these gifts: the gift of learning to step back, the gift of time spent watching an intuitive being, and the gift of learning and not always teaching. I want to trust Bina’s choices both because she’s great, and so she practices making thoughtful choices on her own.

“Dear Mom,

I miss you. I think of all your challenges and idiosyncrasies, and of the way you have managed to continue giving me gifts over all these years.”

I have to admit that I actually liked camp by the end. I’m loosing some of my ideals, sometimes. But going with the flow is another ideal that I neglect way too often.

Dedicated to my mother Barbara Gail Uslaner Mannes Walters, who marched to the beat of her own drummer, saw the good in everyone, made thoughtful choices (some more and some less), liked both the mainstream and the unusual, and passed away 10 years ago this summer.

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One thought on “from the campy desk of the yogi doula

  1. really lovely newsletter Julia, very insightful. Nice way to keep your mom in the present day. – Sara Z