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A wake-up call from mama guilt and the unending to do-list

Jan 29, 2021

I feel stirring next to me and peek my eyes through the dim light to see big eyes staring back at me. I groan, shush him, and roll over. I don’t want to get up. I don’t want to start the day. With a sigh I sit up and begin again: diaper change, hot cocoa, emails, keep the toddler from pushing the baby, put the baby down for a nap, nursing, soothing, feed the toddler, yell “for god’s sake!” while I try to work, make lunch, naptime…you get the picture. At the end of the day I feel like I’ve run a marathon and I just barely managed to get my overstrung, dead limbed, emotionally fraught body over the finish line, just in time for that elusive me time. Is my partner around? I’m not even sure I care at this point, I just want to be alone in silence until the sound of crying breaks the spell.

Is this motherhood?

I was recently reminded that there is a difference between the business of doing and the art of being. This has everything to do with pregnancy, labor and delivery, and motherhood. Ladies, we don’t do pregnancy, we are pregnant, and we don’t do labor and delivery, we are in labor.

…and the wake up call for me today…I am not doing motherhood, I am a mama. There are plenty of doings in motherhood – washing clothes, cleaning spit up, making breakfasts, pumping, nursing, changing diapers, driving the kids around, BUT these are in service to the being part. When we lose that, we lose our minds, and all the juiciness of living.

It is so easy to get lost in the doings and forget about the being, then to feel guilty about not being enough, and double or triple down on the doings to make up for the lack of being, and so on in a vicious cycle that can leave a mama exhausted, disconnected, and feeling like she’s not good enough. Lately, as the distance between my partner and I has stretched, and the tension in our house has grown, the kids seem unruly, and I can never catch up, I realized that I feel so guilty for not being present.

Then, last night, my partner’s voice pierced through the choreographed drama of my life and woke me to the simple stillness within. He brought me back to myself, to him, to our children, and to what really matters.

With this renewed centeredness, I am reminded of an intention from long ago when we first began this journey of being a family: to hold space for each other’s beingness – for ourselves and for our children. Furthermore, we promised to hold space for the spontaneous miraculous unfolding of life, to allow ourselves to be blown away by the unexpected, and to honor the profound sacredness of each breathe. 

This morning, as those big dark eyes flutter open and seek my own, I meet them with a smile, a giggle, and rise to a day full of unexpected, magnificent possibility.

If this is hitting close to the mark, close your eyes for a moment. Take a deep breath. Let everything melt away, just for a second, and rest in the simple relief of just being present.

Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.

 Thich Nhat Hanh (Living Buddha, Living Christ)

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