A Mother’s Rights #15: You have the right to change your priorities.

Maybe before you became a mom, you were a fucking lion at work and hammered out 12 hour workdays, ate leftover Indian for dinner and got weekly massages. Maybe you spent most of your monthly budget on lingerie and had Outlander-style fantasy sex with your partner every day.

Then after holding a sweet heavenly baby in your arms for the first time, your world underwent a seismic shift. You stopped caring about the things that were happening at work. Instead you hid behind your desk skyping your baby and knitting booties. You abandoned beautiful lingerie for whatever bra worked best for pumping. You got sad being away from home and couldn’t eat Indian food anymore because it gave you heartburn. And every time you had sex, you peed a little because your pelvic floor was a like a stretched out old rubber band someone left in the sun.

Amidst all this change in your life, it may occur to you that your priorities have changed too. You may be looking around and saying: “Well, who the fuck am I now?”

 

prioriites

 

Goddess, yes, things are changing. Your life is changing. Your body is changing. Your priorities are changing. YOU are changing. It is tempting to hold so tightly to the way you used to be that you cannot see the gift of who you are becoming.

Who you are becoming is someone with different priorities. You have to be. There’s a person now or more than one person who requires you for bonding and play and learning and care and sustenance. We are important.

To move deeper into the majesty of ourselves, we need to let go of who we thought we were just a little bit and little bit more. Because motherhood changes us in every way and it is 100% ok to let motherhood change you. To allow your desires and preferences and needs to slowly or suddenly shape your life into a new thing.

Maybe you taper down to 8 hour days at work or maybe you use your savings to stay home for the first year. Maybe you start cooking casseroles for God’s sake and trade your massages for baby and mom yoga. Maybe you wear organic cotton over-the-head bras with thick nipple pads and spackle your nipples with balm while your lacy bras gather dust in the back of their drawers. Girl, it’s fine.

Accepting the ways your priorities change is so healthy and good and nourishing. Letting the love that bonds you to your child sweep over your life and transform it is a natural and necessary thing. It is not just transformative to your life but to the world. Because the world needs women who let the elemental forces of motherhood sweep through them, sweep through their relationships and priorities.

These elementals forces help shape the future into one where motherhood is important and profound and sacred. Just like that sweet baby is important and profound and sacred and just like you are important and profound and sacred.

You have the right to change your priorities and to trust that whatever you dive into in this precious moment in your life, the essence of you and your goddess beautiful self will remain perfectly, exquisitely you.

A Mother’s Rights 13: You have the right to say no.

 

This is an oldie but a goodie and gets a lot of mileage in the mom world. In Paul Coelho’s words, “When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.” Basically, know yourself. Prioritize what’s important to you. Then live that.

Suuuuuper easy. Hahahahahaha.

you have the right to shower every day (3)

 

If you can indulge me for a bit, I’d like to walk with you down a little bit of a deeper interpretation of this. I brought water and trail mix: the kind with almonds and dark chocolate, not that bullshit peanuts and off-brand M&M’s kind.

We all get the surface meaning of this basic right. Say no to things that will wear you down, stress you out, or just aren’t important to you. Like, if you have a busy week, say no to making brownies for the bake sale. If your kid has the flu, say no to carpooling soccer for your neighbor. If you don’t want to drive across town after a long day, say no to book club tonight. Logistically, don’t fill your schedule up with things that will overload you. BUT, what if the importance of saying no goes deeper than that?

Understanding when and how to say no at a deeper level starts with understanding how to listen to ourselves so we know what’s important to us and what’s not.  What is your yes/no spectrum? How do you say yes to life, to new experiences, to nourishment, to bold ways of being you AND say no to hurtful people, careless treatment, and stretching beyond your healthy limits?

This kind of discernment starts with practicing a deep and passionate love for who you are so that there is room for yes to come forward.  Actively practice loving yourself. Identify things that make you feel good without question. As in: I lose 10 pounds of stress when I dance to Sean Mendes. I love walking in the arboretum. Putting mascara on makes me feel like a powerful influencer. My painting is my happy place.

Make some room for these big yes feelings. Remember yourself.

Equally important: make room for uncomfortable feelings you may not initially welcome. Things like: I can’t stand hearing my baby cry right now. I’m so angry my dad is passive-aggressive about my parenting style. I wish my partner would leave me alone right now. My eating is out of control and I’m scared.

These uncomfortable feelings need to be seen and heard too. Feelings are temporary, you are not. Getting to know your uncomfortable feelings and allowing them to be seen will help you know your real self, and love your whole self.

So far: discover what you feel and what you like. Discover what you’d rather not be feeling and things you dislike. I am making this sound so easy, but for those of us who molded ourselves based on who we thought we should be, it takes some serious dedication and practice. Thank God for yoga and friends.

Discovering your personal yes/no spectrum continues with making room for ‘no’ to come forward without pushing it to the side. You have preferences. It’s ok to hear what they are. Begin listening for your inner talk of:

I can’t say no to that or….

my partner will get mad
my friends won’t understand
my kids won’t like it
my colleagues will laugh at me
I might lose something
I might feel something I don’t want to feel
I might miss out
it could be a mistake
I won’t be pleasing others
I might hurt someone’s feelings

Hearing that inner talk and recognizing it as fear and old programming will make room for really, truly who you are to come forward. You might have a really strong “FUCK NO – I’M NOT DOING THAT” come forward. Or you may notice a gentle “I’d prefer not to, but I’m really ok with it.” What you choose to do with your preferences is then totally in your power.

This book: Getting Real is a stunning map of how to identify YOU amidst the chatter of your mind and feelings, and how to bring that you to the surface in a real way. It is so massively helpful in navigating self, life, thoughts, wanting things to be different, wanting people to be better, wanting yourself to be perfect, wanting anger to go away, needing to feel more connected. Just everything.

When you begin to know yourself and stop living your life based on expectations of who you should be or what you should do, saying no becomes a fun experiment.

What does no feel like in my body and mind? Tight shoulders? Stomach pains? Does a strong no feel different then a weak one? What does ‘yes’ feel like? Am I smiling? Excited? Relaxed? Do I feel sexy? Friendly?

Saying no is about you honoring you. The real you, the one in your big juicy heart. And won’t your kids be amazed to see this practice of self-discovery in action? They are so lucky to have a mom like you.

A Mother’s Rights #11: You have the right to feel however you feel about parenting right now.

 

You love your kids. You are devoted, you work hard, you want them to have what you missed as a kid. You want them to have more, to know how loved and important they are.

Those things are true on days when you feel happy, loving it all. And it’s also true on days or weeks or months where you feel unfulfilled, lonely, stressed or boxed in.

 

 

you have the right to feel

 

Other feelings you might have about parenting but are afraid to admit it to yourself:

Regret
Jealousy
Resentment
Disappointment
Grief
Longing
Neglected
Overlooked
Unappreciated
Angry
Sad
Unseen
Impatient
Ignored
Powerless

This is some deep shit. Those aren’t fuzzy feelings. One of the greatest dangers we face as parents is denying how we feel about parenting. If we only allow ourselves one feeling: “I love being a parent,” we suppress  much of our daily experience. Squashing feelings down creates anxiety, depression, and physical imbalance.

Let’s just assume and know that the love is always there underneath whatever we are feeling day to day. If you are frustrated because your child just did something dangerous or reckless and you want to shout and swear at them but know that you can’t, where does that fear and frustration go? Your body holds onto it for you and is ready at any moment for you to acknowledge that it’s there, and find a way to release it through exercise, art, movement, breath, journaling, or whatever works for you to see yourself and acknowledge your experience. Just as we teach our kids, we need to recognize all the feelings, even the unfuzzy ones.

When I interviewed my mom about her birthing and postpartum experience, she shared that she went through a low postpartum period where she remembers rocking her baby back and forth saying to herself, “I love being a mom, I love being a mom,” scared by the words because she couldn’t quite feel them and she wanted to convince herself of their truth.

She knew there was love there somewhere, but what she was feeling in that moment was scared and sad.

Whatever feelings we go through about parenting, the love is always underneath. But if we don’t allow ourselves to feel the frustrations, anger, sadness, disbelief, fear, and helplessness that often come with raising kids, those feelings will keep asking to be seen until they are seen, so they can be released.

There are things I love about being a mom and things that are hard. Really hard. I sometimes feel resentful or sick to death of getting up early or burnt out on caregiving. Honoring myself through these feelings can help me access the joy and love underneath. It doesn’t have to be either/or. I love my kids and I feel tired. I love my kids and I feel sick of the tantrums. I love my kids and I feel angry they won’t eat the dinner I cooked.

Parenting is a long road, a forever road. To be well on the journey, we can be who we are and we can feel how we feel.

A Mother’s Rights #9: You have the right to not always be your best self.

As the saying goes, only you can be you. I love that. Our problem often lies in thinking that we need to be the best version of ourselves every moment of every day. The standards that most of us try to live by as women are 100% ridiculous and will drive us right into feelings of inadequacy, anger, and self-doubt.

 

 

you have the right to not always be your best self

 

 

For most of us, our problem is not that we just don’t try hard enough to be good parents. It’s that we think we must be perfect or our kids will be forever messed up and it will be our fault.

Living up to impossible standards is what drives us into a panic attack trying to choose between organic or conventional blueberries. Expecting that you will never yell at your kids, wear dirty clothes, let your kids watch TV for 5 hours, serve Cheerios for dinner, have a messy house, wear the same underwear two days in a row, put in 50% at work, eat a whole pizza by yourself, have B.O., do some really half-assed parenting, not read the newsletters from school, leave the beds unmade, ignore your vacuum, blow off yoga, or WHATEVER you think is unacceptable and less than your best- expecting that you will never do those things is unrealistic.

You are a human person.

Anxiety often arrives when the expectations we have for ourselves become so limiting that we are squeezed into a tiny box of how we think we should be acting in order to be “good enough.” Your best is good enough. Your worst is probably also good enough too, if you have a conscience, a moral compass and you love your kids (and you’re not Cersei Lannister.)

Consider offering your best to your child for 30 minutes and letting yourself be at 60% awesome for the rest of the day. What would that feel like? Or redefining what “best self” actually means. Or loosening the grip on nighttime nursing your 18 month old so that YOU can get some sleep. Maybe it doesn’t mean picking organic blueberries at a farm with your children even though you were sick the day before with diarrhea. Maybe it means you call Grandma to watch the kids so you can lay in bed and treat yourself with the kindness you deserve.

Most likely, you are doing a great job. It’s fine. And fine is usually good enough. And there is nothing wrong with good enough. In fact, it might be healthy for your kids to see your humanity and your the beauty in imperfection. Every day does not have to be a gold medal day. Just enjoy your green participation ribbon and get this t-shirt.

 

A Mother’s Rights #8: You have the right to explore who you are now.

Whew.

This could be 18 posts, not just the one. But I’ll try to keep it short. If you need more about how important it is to honor yourself and your journey and to find a way to fucking own it, you can find more here and here. And go to Oprah.com.

Here it is in a nutshell. You are important. Motherhood is transformational. You have a right to know who you are.

 

you have the right to explore who you are

 

Motherhood is as much about self-discovery as it is about discovering your children and the world through new eyes. As the spiritual guru Rajneesh said:

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”

And that is you.

You may find yourself thinking new thoughts, feeling unsatisfied in relationships, wanting to leave a job behind, hoping to go to school, wanting more sex or not caring about things you used to think were essential: religion, fashion, status, whatever.

To mildly put it, keeping up with who you are improves your quality of life. You have every right to explore your feelings, thoughts, sensations, body, preferences, regrets, longings, nuances, hopes, and passions.

If self-exploration is new to you, future posts will include ways to help you get started. Or check out the services I offer to work with me.

“Where my yoga at?” says 13 year old me.

All things are tied together. When you cut a tree, whose roots connect with everything, you must ask its forgiveness or a star will fall out of the sky.

 

West before East

13 years old, backyard cement slab, suburban spiritual desert
cigarette smoking, Virginia Slims stolen from my long blonde dance teacher
she kept them next to the record player and my hands
hit the ceiling of her basement studio
when I jumped, really just looking for freedom
and the other side of the world, home to wisdom keepers
finding paths through movement to higher planes
unknown, they rang the bell in me, a light in the smoke,
a silent unseen hope, hope, hope

At 13, I wanted to feel more freedom than I was feeling. I sensed there was some element of explanation to myself and life that I needed but couldn’t locate. Where was the missing essential component, an unnamed magic that would explain all the various and separate activities, messes, mysteries, disappointments, awarenesses and relationships of life?

I needed a unifying theory and cosmic explanation for why some people were liars, why getting A’s mattered, why I was the last person in my whole class (or maybe galaxy) to get my period, why intuition didn’t count as intelligence, why sometimes a shout was not loud enough, why my mom’s church thought people were born with dirty souls, and why sometimes you lose the things you love.

Naming these questions, this demand for explanation didn’t come until later, like today in my 40’s as I am blending a green smoothie, hoping it doesn’t taste like leaves.

Back then there was just a sense that…. people around me believed they weren’t connected and somehow that wasn’t right and I knew it wasn’t right.  So gimme a cigarette, says 13 year old me.

I didn’t know there were others also seeking breadcrumbs on a path inward and searching for wisdom in life’s everything.  The absence of that knowledge created a loss that defined a lot of my teens and 20’s. It created devastating anxiety and depression, and big issues with trust and relationships- and it scared me to my bones.

In my neighborhood and culture growing up, the idea that nothing and no one was really interconnected with anything else created systems that validated us by measuring us.

Like the Catholic church, where they were happy to tell you what was right and wrong or good and bad for you and how well you were doing with your salvation….(don’t get too stressed out, though, because if you don’t do well, the consequence is ETERNAL HELLFIRE, so relax.)  Or friends motivated by insecurity from always needing to be better, who acted calculating and contradictory. There was a continual need to strive for pretty, thin, cool, smart, accepted. And, of course, a grading system at school that measured how well we could adjust to outside standards of what intelligence and accomplishment looked like. I felt assessed by the systems around me. Systems I didn’t support but was already in.

Why am I thinking of this today? Because like so many of us, I’m healing myself of those wounds from my past by diving passionately into the present.

Our authentic selves require expression, attention, love and security. When we have unresolved pain, there are parts of us that bind up or scab over. So even though we’re not actively in pain anymore, we’re still living from a place that has restriction and scar tissue, which affects our ability to move smoothly and freely through the world. Both within ourselves mind-body-soul and within our lives intention-action-manifestation.

I’m fully on board living authentically and seeking spiritual truths and unity. It all feels like the freedom I’d longed for as a kid, when I couldn’t identify why things felt disconnected or what I was missing. I wasn’t exposed back then to ancient wisdom traditions and texts, mystical studies, meditation, movement and meditation practices that had been teaching things like enlightenment and unity for thousands of years. And so to discover that this path exists and has existed for so long feels like I’ve been sitting on a pot of gold I never knew was there. I just thought I was sitting on a really uncomfortable chair.

And isn’t that everything? To discover the riches that are already here? We live in an infinite universe. The answers, the healing, the relationships, the love we seek is already here. But if we don’t find it by seeking it and focusing it into life, we are like the story of the fish not knowing they’re in water.

If we keep seeking deeper and deeper affirmations and questions, only then can the universe answer us. The avenues of living intuitively, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, breathwork, energy psychology, self-reflection, self-awareness, compassion and gratitude are what heals the scar tissues and enables us to evolve and live our lives free of energetic, mental, physical, and ethereal restrictions.

Freedom from the past, from the way it’s held in our bodies and minds allows us to be fully in the present. And focusing on the freedom in the present releases the ways our bodies and minds have held onto things.

I wish I could share this news with myself back when I when I was 13. And I can. Through releasing the restrictions that were formed through those years of struggle, and offering gratitude for the wisdom and resiliency gained. By intending that future lessons be gentle and learned through love. By doing that, I scoop her right off that cement and into the arms of the unconditional love that awaits right here with me in the present.

A Mother’s Rights #4: You have the right to revise your sex life as needed.

We are four posts into the 15 Mother’s Rights.  Ready for #4?

 

mother4

 

When I interviewed my mom for my podcast. one of the things she said she wished had happened differently through her early parenting years was that there was more education about what happens to your pelvic floor and your sex life after giving birth.

These stories are different for every woman, but over the course of partnership, pregnancy, nursing, and parenting, our relationships to our bodies change.

Maybe we used to be kind of into our boobs, they used to feel sexy and now they feel like milk dispensers and you don’t want your partner anywhere near them.

Maybe our pelvic floor is like a loose stretched out rubber band and when we have sex, we’re so afraid pee will come out, we refuse to orgasm.

Maybe postpartum anxiety leaves us so stressed that the idea of getting intimate with someone is overwhelming and you’d rather read a book and take a bath.

Maybe you have weight that just won’t come off and you don’t feel like yourself, so how could you possibly want to share your body with someone else?

We have so many insecurities and expectations for ourselves. Adding an expectation that there is a minimum amount of sex we are required to have in order to fulfill our duty is an outdated notion. You do not need to meet a quota. Your sex life is YOUR sex life. If your libido is down and things have changed for you, talk to your partner and make some adjustments. Or get thee to a therapist and talk some more.

It doesn’t have to be a certain way. It is the way it is. Your relationship to your body and your sex life can change and grow. It’s ok.