During pregnancy and early motherhood, I could have never predicted the stress that would come as babies grow, sleep depletes, and life turns to revolving around raising a family. Maybe it was ignorance, maybe it was love, or the oxytocin still flowing in my newly post-partum body. If you had told me with my baby, just days old, how complicated life would become, I would not have believed you. But then it happened. My baby began to grow. My life as a Mom got complicated. I slept less. I fought with my husband more. I was quick to stress, although I still insisted on playing cool as a cucumber. Then, an unexpected pregnancy and baby number 2 and holy hell life became even busier and out of my control.
It's hard to say that the love for my children and my family was enough to keep me fulfilled and streamlined. It wasn't. Being a mother was fantastic but I was missing old self. My thoughts, the sound of my breath when I was alone, the freedom to be, and balance in my life- I lost these when I became a Mom.
So in between mom sized meltdowns and realizing how tightly I was clenching my jaw while driving around, I realized that something had to give. As a Mom, there were only so many circumstances that I was actually able to control. Life was giving me no choice but to learn to be more 'go with the flow’ and the only way that myself and my family would emerge as better humans was if I took the time to focus on me.
My schedule (and budget) didn't allow for weekly massages or trips to the nail salon to unwind. I had to be deliberate to carve out time to recognize MYself and schedule time for peace of mind. With a small history of Yoga behind me, I figured meditation might be worth a shot.
Initially, I didn’t feel I was accountable enough to myself to make it work. I enrolled in a Mindful Mothering course. This course seemed (and is) great. It provided a weekly checklist of things to do to help me recognize my true self as a mother and provided instruction on how and why to make meditation work for me. I was so excited! But I didn’t do it. All my good intentions were for naught as I watched as weeks of assignments went undone. I was still regularly tensing up, clenching my jaw, and spiraling into negative emotions. The burden of a mother is so daunting, somewhat overwhelming. When like had unexpected twists and turns, it was always me who had to sacrifice. And that sacrifice became so much for me to bear.
I had a moment of clarity and I re-dedicated myself to the idea of meditation. I wasn’t sure I could find 20-30 minutes to sit in silence. I wasn’t sure if I could quiet my mind at all! I decided to give it a shot and committed to 5 minutes of meditation a day. 5 minutes was manageable for me. I could find 5 minutes to focus on feeling my breath and not calculate the running of my family. So I did.
I sat at night, or in the shower, or while cooking and just felt my breath. I wasn’t any good at it. Over time, I allowed thoughts to appear, without judgment, and pass as I gently reminded myself to focus on my breath. I opted to sit and night and listen to guided meditation to get me through. Some days were easy; others made 5 minutes feel like hours. But I did it and I remain committed to it.
So after a few months of meditating regularly, what has changed for me as a Mom? Not much. I still live my life to make sure my family has their needs fulfilled. I still get frustrated when the kids misbehave and the day gets out of hand. I still have moments where I miss my pre-baby life and yearn for the freedom I had before children. But these moments are fleeting, just as wandering thoughts are during meditation. They are there, then, they are gone. They don’t ruin my day or consume me. My blood pressure doesn’t sky rocket. I see situations with empathetic eyes instead of selfish ones. I am more involved with my children’s emotional states and sensitivities. And I’m more aware of my own wants and needs and express them in a way that doesn’t make everyone want to run away from me.
So does meditation make being a Mom easier? No. Being a Mom is hard work. But meditation forces me to take a moment to relax. It helps me to remind myself that continuous thoughts and racing minds don’t make me a productive person and they definitely don’t make me a great mother. Meditation reminds me that when the world around me seems to spin around with a lack of control, that my soul is here, in this one moment and I can breathe to get myself through it.