Making these yoga videos with Em is becoming harder these days, mainly because she always notices my phone recording and wants to grab it! She’s walking now which adds a whole new level of fun. Here were my yoga attempts last week.
Today I got back from a nice afternoon out with Emmy. I thought I was pretty put together. Then I saw myself in the mirror.
You see, Emily loves holding onto my hair. Every single time I hold her she grabs a piece. It’s almost like my hair is the equivalent of a security blanket for her. So I guess at some point she grabbed a chunk of hair out of my pony tail and held tight. I somehow didn’t notice that I had a large strangly piece of hair and continued on my merry way.
I guess this is my “mom hair.”
I’ve learned a whole lot in my first year of motherhood, and there’s one big lesson I want to share. I’m learning to see what’s in front of me rather than getting carried away with my worries.
This past year with each big change in Emily’s development I found myself getting overwhelmed and even scared. A few milestones that stand out in my mind are switching her from her bassinet to her crib, introducing her to solid foods, giving her supplemental formula, and teaching her to fall asleep on her own through sleep training. All of these changes seem small in hindsight but seemed insurmountable at the time.
I found myself becoming obsessed with the BEST way to do things. I told myself if I made the “wrong” decision I would cause serious damage to Emily. I’m not kidding when I say I would run away to crazy places in my mind.
The thing is when I look back I see that even if I did things differently, Emily would be totally fine. There’s really no best way to do things. What’s most important is really seeing the human being in front of me rather than getting caught up in the “shoulds” of parenting.
Case in point the latest “problem” I’ve been pondering. In the past month or so Emily has gotten into the habit of falling asleep while drinking her last bottle of the evening. For a few days I found myself in a dark cloud of worry while I gave her that last bottle. I would tell myself, this is a very bad habit. I would tell myself, this needs to stop ASAP. I would run the phrase, “You should always put your baby down awake” over and over in my mind and convince myself I was somehow failing. I would feel shame.
Then tonight as I held Emily in my arms while she drank her bottle, she played with my hair and her eyes began to close. I looked down at her sweet serene face and I thought- SEE WHAT’S IN FRONT OF YOU. Right there in my arms was my sweet baby girl playing with my hair and falling asleep in my arms. I mean, she still fits in my arms. How amazing is that?
I reminded myself that the beauty of that moment was fleeting. Emily won’t always fall asleep in her mama’s arms and want to play with her mama’s hair. This was a moment for me to cherish NOT a moment for me to run away with fear, worry and shame.
If I push aside all of the “shoulds.” If I stop comparing myself and my child to other moms and children. If I really sit down and feel what my instinct is telling me, I know we are okay. I know when the time is right we will take the bottle away. I also know Emily is a capable human being who can fall asleep on her own just fine when we decide to make that change. She’s okay. She’s more than okay.
Moms and dads out there- please hear me when I say this. SEE WHAT’S IN FRONT OF YOU. See what’s there today and try not to get carried away with the tomorrows. I know how easy it is to fear that you’re somehow failing or doing things wrong. But if you can pause, breathe and see the human being in front of you, you’ll remember that nothing else really matters except that deep love you feel inside. Enjoy the little moments of today because they pass by and become the big moments of tomorrow.
You’re doing great. Just keep on seeing what’s in front of you.
Today while Emily was napping the contractor who has been working on our apartment came by. He wanted to check on the floor he had recently fixed in Emily’s room. He had given me no advanced warning. When I told him she was napping in there he said, “I’ll be quiet.” I paused a moment in disbelief and said, “No. Sorry. She needs to sleep.”
He’s a very nice man and certainly didn’t mean to piss me off, but come on!
What strikes me most when I reflect on this now is the fire I had inside of me in that moment when he said, “I’ll be quiet.” I pictured Emily taking a serene nap and a man she doesn’t know suddenly entering her room. No way! My internal mama bear instinct was screaming “GET OUT!” I didn’t say this to him, but I was definitely thinking it.
Mama bear instinct is real. This past year I’ve been stuck by how loud it is and how protective I feel of Emily. I never knew I could feel this way about another human being! In the past a weak point of mine has been creating clear boundaries with others. My need to people please often came before my ability to take care of my own needs. That’s not the case with Emily. I have no problem saying NO if it’s not in her best interest.
I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care lately. I’ve been reimagining what it looks like and how it feels. I’ve been asking myself- what if I were to offer myself the same love, attention and respect I offer to Emily every day? Today I’m thinking that sometimes the ultimate act of self-care may be to just say,”GET OUT!”
Today my cousin had my family over to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday. Grandma’s been up in heaven for five years now. It’s been a tradition for us to gather around her February 23rd birthday each year.
I have to admit this year Grandma’s birthday hit me harder than past years. I actually didn’t allow myself to fully think about it because I knew I just couldn’t deal with it. Having my own daughter now who I love so deeply makes the loss of my grandma sting more.
I wish Grandma were here to snuggle Emily, tell her how adorable she is, and squeeze her cheeks and say “I love you sweetheart.” I imagine she would tell me how gorgeous Emily is and giggle at all her cuteness. I would visit her just to see how happy she got to see Emily and me and I would feel loved and seen. I’d call her often and update her on everything. I’d say “Grandma- Emily said car today!” and she would say “Oh my God she is SO smart.” And then she’d call me back five minutes later to tell me how proud she is that I called her.
There’s something about losing all of my grandparents that makes me feel like my childhood is gone. My Grandma, Nonno and Nanna were all incredible forces in my life and now they aren’t here anymore. It feels like they were the connection to baby Jessica and now that they are gone that baby is also gone.
Yes, I do believe they watch over us. I do feel their presences often. And I feel blessed to have them around. It’s just not the same as having them physically here sharing these moments with.
I miss them so. My heart aches. I am so proud that they are where I came from.
Out of nowhere a woman walked close to me and with an intense anger looked me in the eyes and said, “Don’t text while you’re pushing your baby in a stroller. Your baby can’t tell you that you’re a NEGLECTFUL mother.”
Yes. A stranger- a woman I have never seen before (and hope to never see again) said those exact words.
She did not stop walking as she spewed her venom but just continued on her way. I, on the other hand, stopped and froze in complete shock.
There was a moment while I stood frozen when I could have reacted in anger. I could have said a lot of horrible things to her in return. But I’m a good mom and I would never want Emily to see me act that way.
Once the woman, who I’ve since deemed “angry mean scarecrow lady”, was far away, I looked at Emily in her stroller. She contentedly ate her puff cereal and her eyes struck me as particularly blue and pure in that moment.
I’ve had time now to get my bearings. I’ve talked it through with an empathetic friend and I’ve cried. And here’s what I want to say.
To judge another person so quickly. To just look at someone and decide to inject them anger and hostility. That must feel really, really horrible.
That woman must be miserable. She probably feels pain inside all the time, and she tried to spread to me.
Instead of internalize her absurd statement, I’ve decided to do what the wise Daniel Tiger says. “When something’s seems bad, turn it around. Find something good.”
So, if what that stranger did today was drive by meanness, I would like to start up some drive by kindness. Starting tomorrow when I notice something nice about stranger I’ll tell them. Whether it’s saying, “I know how hard it is and you’re doing great”to a hardworking mom or nanny or simply telling someone “that’s a beautiful hat!” I’m going to spread me some genuine kindness.
So, I’m sorry angry mean scarecrow lady, but your attack was not successful. I am going to continue to be the dedicated mom I am and I’m not going to let some hatred get in my way.
PS- This is a picture I drew of her when we got home. Something about drawing this was very therapeutic!
It has been a true blessing this past year to introduce Emily to yoga. It has been amazing watching her grow and become an active part of my yoga practice. Here is a compilation of our yoga playtimes together. She’s the best yoga buddy I could ever ask for!