Measuring Motherhood

After I had my first baby, I found myself in a weird sort of limbo-land. I had taken a maternity leave from my job. I was expecting a break. A break where I could complete some decorating projects around my house and catch-up on some books I had wanted to read. I did not understand how life changing and soul altering having a baby would be, that I would be all of a sudden be caught between my old life and a new life. That I would now constantly try to balance the old world of deadlines, budgets, schedules and achievement with a new world of nurturing and caring without firm measurements for success.

In my old life, success meant staying on budget and on schedule. With a baby, no one was measuring my performance and responding with feedback for improvement or a bonus for exceeding the project metrics. And so I grasped for things to measure. I grasped for things that I could nail down. I tried to figure out what made a ‘good’ mom, what made a ‘great’ mom and what dragged a woman down to the horrible range of average. So, I created a schedule for my two week old baby, I breastfed through pain because it was the ‘best’, I cooked organic, from scratch meals, I learned new ways to fold fitted sheets and I bought videos on baby sign language.   And guess what – it didn’t work. My son cried, he didn’t sleep on schedule, I had to supplement with formula, he didn’t sleep through the night and by four months, he wasn’t making one sign.

I had failed. I had failed at being a ‘great’ mom. And I was miserable. I was so wrapped up in making sure that I was meeting my own arbitrarily imposed standards, that I was missing the best parts of being a mother – or at least what I had heard about the best parts.

With my subsequent children, I did things differently. I deepened my yoga practice. A practice that does not subscribe to ideas of judging and labeling, or of competition or success, a practice that constantly seeks to balance the ideas of effort and ease, surrender and action. 4th Trimester is about bringing these concepts to newborn mothers as they seek to find their own balance between their old world and their new world. It’s about honoring each woman’s experience as unique and valid.

For me, being a ‘good’ mother meant finding a new way of being. A way that is softer, more flexible and more open. In letting go of my desire to measure, compete, rank and judge my performance, I found more joy, peace and fulfillment in my journey as a mom. And this ‘letting go’ is a constant practice, one that feels easier some days than others. I’d love to have you come practice with me.

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