As a woman in my 20s, the idea of being a mother both opened my heart wide and sent rushes of incredible terror through me at the same time.
I knew I wasn’t ready for the responsibilities and life changes associated with parenthood at that time in my life.
The oldest of four children and 13 grandchildren, I spent my childhood helping care for my younger siblings and my teen years babysitting for family and friends.
At the age of 33, I was in a relationship I was unsure about; he was unsure too. However, a little being was sure as sugar that we were meant to be her parents. I know this because I had a vivid, almost lucid dream one night, where I saw a curly haired, blonde, blue-eyed girl about five years old sitting on our bed. She looked at me with an intensity that shook me out of a deep sleep and sent shivers down my spine. I awoke, feeling like she was still there, right in front of me.
Who was she?
I now know who she was.
Today, I’m mother to a beautiful blonde curly haired girl named Wren—a sensitive soul who has been my greatest gift and my biggest challenge (in a good way) on this earth.
Motherhood has, and continues to take me to the depths of myself—showing me crevices and corners of my heart and mind I didn’t know existed. It pushes me to edges deeper than those i have explored on my yoga mat or in my personal relationships.
I am Wren’s mother, but I am first and foremost her friend.
I remember my teacher saying to me years ago that parenting is the highest form of yoga. Why? Because there is so much giving up of self. There is a release of personal need—putting this little being’s needs before one’s own at times, which makes the ego step out of the way.
I have stepped into this role completely blind. There is no tried and true manual on how to nurture a unique human being into adulthood. I have spent five years study my “Wren manual” and I will spend the rest of my lifetime doing so if I’m lucky enough to see her grow into a woman and maybe even a mother and grandmother.
Here are the most intense and enlightening ways parenting has affected me and maybe you as well:
1. It has made me live my bliss (and thus, my most authentic self):
As soon as I found out I was going to be a mom, I felt a deep subconscious urge to do what I love fully and completely. Before my pregnancy, I had been half into what I loved, scared to jump fully into its warm and calming waters—scared that I might not be ready for it just yet.
This unconscious urge to grow and live fully from what yogis call the highest self, became conscious and I began to say yes to all of the opportunities that started to fall into my path.
2. It’s made me value my worth:
As a self-employed mom, and for the past three years, a single mom, I am financially responsible for my child. My insecurities about charging rates that would support me quickly vanished. That bear-like protector instinct kicked in and an inner confidence oozed out of me.
Children imitate their adult role models. I think this deep desire to express my worth has come from that place of wanting my child to see her worth and know that she is valued. As she sees mom value herself, she learns to value herself as well.
3. It’s made me create healthy boundaries in my relationships:
We get to choose who we have relationships with, who we spend out time with and who we choose not to. When I became pregnant, I became choosy about my personal relationships and how I spent my time. That mama bear instinct is my radar. I have developed healthy connections since motherhood and I know it’s based on what type of energy I want around my daughter (and of course myself). She has made me make wise choices and continue to foster healthy relationships. For that I am thankful!
4. It’s made me work on myself, cutting out the bullsh*t:
As soon as I found out I was going to be a mom, I felt an inner drive to live more fully from my higher self—the best and most authentic version of who I am. I am still working on peeling away the layers of bullsh*t I’ve gathered over a life-time.
Children are so pure and so light that they see right through facades we adults put up. They make us grow. Children say profound things. Listen to them. They are sages. When I’m feeling impatient, my daughter reflects that and I stop and breathe and remember to come back to my center—for her.
5. It’s made me stay mindfully present in each moment:
LIfe is short. My time with my daughter is sacred. I try to be really present and engaging with her when we are together. I put my phone away. I get on the floor and play with her. I have her help me cook. I really stay present. Parenthood also cuts down self-time, so I try to do things I really love to do to nurture and nourish myself when I have solo time.
6. I take better self-care:
Doing nurturing things to care for and replenish oneself actually allows me to have more energy for my daughter. When I eat well, sleep well, excercise and get some good adult play time to do the things I love, I am lovingly present for my daughter. This is something a lot of parents forget or feel guilty about. Self care is vital to good parenting. How can you give when you are running on fumes?
7. I value my time:
As a parent you learn to appreciate the bits of self time you get and make the most of them. I make sure I do things I love in my time away from my daughter. I have also “learned” to love household chores, as it feels grounding for me to cleanse and clear my space and reap the rewards of the cleanliness with my daughter. Giving Wren simple tasks to do like swiffering while I am cleaning also makes it fun and allows for bonding for both of us!
8. I have increased patience:
Spending more time on self-care gives me more patience with my daughter. I notice that when I don’t eat or take some needed quiet time because I’m putting her needs before mine, I can get impatient. My impatience is always a reminder that I have a need that is not being met. I am now able to catch myself quicker by noticing impatience arise and grabbing a quick snack or by taking a quick minute to deep breathe, maybe going into another room just to get some “psychic space” where I can clear my head and heart a bit.
I am still a work in progress. I do notice my daughter responding to my personal “work” by having fewer meltdowns, expressing her feelings more openly and having more in depth, open conversations with me about her day at school, her dreams at night and the ponderings of her five-year-old mind.
When Wren told me the other day, “Mom, you’re my best friend,” I just about melted.
I’m not sure if it’s my relationship with myself, thereby growing more loving, that has brought my daughter and I into a closer connection, or if, on year five of the parenting journey, I’m feeling more comfortable with the flow of things. All I know is that I feel a deep and inexplicable love for this little soul and feel honored to be a solid, nurturing force for her.
Author: Sarah T. Lamb
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: London Scout/Unsplash