Holding and being held

“A baby is something you carry inside you for nine months, in your arms for three years and in your heart til the day you die.”

-Mary Mason

Last year on Halloween I found out I was pregnant with my second child. It was as much a surprise as the first one, and since my husband and I had adopted the attitude of ‘if it happens, it happens,’ I quickly went from shock to excitement about it.

I have to say that motherhood has been one of the strongest grounding forces in my life. Becoming and being a mom has forced me to face limitations I didn’t have before: I can no longer schedule my week with the same freedom I used to have, or act with as much spontaneity as I did. But motherhood has also helped me to experience firsthand the amazing creative power I have as a woman. As comedian Jim Gaffigan says, “But truly, women are amazing. Think about it this way: a woman can grow a baby inside her body. Then a woman can deliver the baby through her body. Then, by some miracle, a woman can feed a baby with her body. When you compare that to the male’s contribution to life, it’s kind of embarrassing….” Think of that if you’re a stay-at-home mom like me and someone asks ‘what you do’ (for a living) and you say you’re ‘just’ a mom.

So I can’t do a handstand right now. So what! I’m literally creating another human being inside my body. That is truly one of the most ordinary things and at the same time, it’s so extraordinary. And it makes you realize what your own mother did for you, and what hers did, and so on. Even if your mother wasn’t emotionally present for you, she still carried you physically.

So much about being a mom is about holding: carrying the baby in your belly, then in your arms; carrying all the crap that you need for infants (diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, the list goes on); wearing the baby in a carrier or sling; holding your own emotions for a second while your toddler has a tantrum. That last one is the hardest for me but I find that the more time I allow for yoga in each day, the better I become at holding space for those big emotions - not just my daughter’s, but mine as well.

As moms, we contain, support, lift up, hold, carry, cradle, cuddle. But then we need to rest and be held, too. And that is what the life of a yoga mama is all about. Finding or creating moments where we get to be held, contained, supported, lifted up, cradled.

I know every mom is busy, even if she’s just occupied standing around watching her kids at the park. But we can all find 5 minutes to just sit and breathe, relax in a restorative yoga pose, or lie in savasana (reclined deep relaxation normally practiced at the end of a yoga class). Sometimes that 5 minutes comes when we wake up before the kids; sometimes it is more available after they go to sleep at night;  maybe it’s during naptime or when they’re watching a show; and if you’re lucky, and up for it, the kids join you on the yoga mat or meditation cushion. Why not? They need to see us relaxing and taking care of ourselves just as much as they need us to take care of them.

What’s your ideal 5-minute mini yoga session that you can practice daily? A lot of times, less is more, meaning that the thing that is most effortless is most helpful in helping you stay centered. Share your ideas with me, and everyone else who reads this blog. Thanks in advance!