Thanks to my sister’s suggestion, I started an online course with Brené Brown on The Gifts of Imperfection. Which is perfect timing, considering the new state of affairs in our household. So far, one week in, I am fast recognizing my propensity to want perfection. Of course it’s easy when life, relationships and circumstances resemble expectations– but the unplanned, undesired or imperfect are a struggle.
Who isn’t dealing with some degree of this in some way at some time? I figured I had been making the transition into this new phase of motherhood pretty well. It was this morning while on the phone with a good friend that I broke down in tears and realised I have a long way to go with this new deal.
I’ve been struggling with a wicked virus for weeks – which means no gym visits and toned down everything else (walks, vinyasa, social outings) in an effort to get well. The typical outlets and small sense of accomplishment that comes with them are not available to me.
Thinking I would be back in the gym by this weekend, I was struck for the fifth time with the down swing of said virus a few days ago. The low energy also means housework and little chores that I usually whiz-bang off no problem are piling up before my eyes. Working from home means I get to stare my lack of efficiency in the face too. Yay!
Darling came down with conjunctivitis earlier in the week – meaning no day care and an envisioned productive workday down the tubes. That’s all right, I told myself, you’ve got Thursday; tackle the work 100% then. Her condition has meant more frequent waking at night, which has not helped with my health or patience.
This morning I hand my screaming baby, who desperately clings to me, over to the day care, feeling a huge sense of relief and excitement about the chance to get some work done, even though I am plugged up with a cold again. Of course as I drive out of the parking lot I feel guilt, is it normal to feel so happy to off-load her?
Less than two hours later I get a call, and it’s confirmed by a visit to the doctor: hand, foot and mouth disease. Sparing details, there’s no swimming, no day care, no outings until she’s better. After my taste of freedom this morning, it’s another round of virtual house arrest for baby and me.
I ask for a blood test; surely there is a way to chalk up the hell I’ve been going through. Perhaps it’s my Hashimoto’s acting up again? “I just want to get something started and finished in my life,” I say to the doctor as I tidy up the blocks girlie has tossed around the office.
“Oh you won’t,” she laughs, “Didn’t anyone tell you about being a parent?”
Uh. Not really.
So I’m in an extended “just get through this” mode. The cycle is taking on a never-ending tone and I admit my patience is slowly eroding into anger. This is more imperfection than I signed up for!
How do you resist these moments of imperfection in yourself and in your life? And how do you accept them?
It’s been a couple weeks now so the distance and time brings me closer to acceptance, and the reality of the long view is coming into focus. I had to say no, to what once would have been an easy and perfect opportunity. There is a craving to return to yoga teaching. Of course, like everything with a youngster, this is easier said than done. Things seemed aligned and perfectly falling into place. A studio I previously taught at had an available slot, Thursday evenings 5:30 until 7:00, perfect! Preliminary verbal arrangements with my mother-in-law were made for child-minding one evening a week so that I recommence teaching.
And then a reality I didn’t anticipate set in. Mondays and Thursdays are also daycare days. She is settling in; on the fourth visit there were no tears, for her or I. With each day she attends her time there has extended and she has become close to her carers. But there’s one thing that has not faded for me and that’s my desire to see her after a day away from her. Maybe in time I will feel different but I know reconnecting is important for us both. I let the available slot at the studio go; despite knowing this was right for our family it was still so hard.
Even though I adore my child I wrestle with the sense of loss that comes with fading oneself into the background as a parent. Staying confident in myself, remaining patient, and knowing that I can pursue my passions while providing a stable environment for girlie is harder than I anticipated. I admit, I get a bit angry at my pre-baby self, wondering if I didn’t waste time in the past, taking for granted all of the freedom I had to focus on those ambitions. Time has changed, and I am adjusting to the unforeseen sacrifices that I will make as a mother for the sake of a happy child.
This incident sparked reflection on the whole idea of letting go. So often in yoga class the ultimate release happens at the end of class when we lie in savasana, or corpse pose. But to truly release in an easeful way takes bravery and strength. Patanjali speaks of sthira and sukahm, or strength and lightness, in II.46 of the Sutras. Though he is referring to this in the context of asana this relationship between grasping and releasing applies to life in general.
No yoga posture can be obtained purely through one avenue alone; you must always refine and explore the perfect ratio that enables you to use your strength and proper alignment to safely release into your expression of the posture.
Physiologically speaking, all strength and the rigidity prevents you from feeling true release. All softness and those precious connective tissues are in grave danger of strain and tearing, potentially impacting your body’s functioning and alignment in the long term, possibly permanently.
As a new mother, life presents opportunities to observe the symbiotic relationship of these yogic foundations. Letting go of opportunities and desires that would have once been simpler to pursue without a child requires self-conviction. A belief that alongside the new mom I’m becoming, the yoga teacher waits with confident patience, knowing that releasing this chance does not mean relinquishing long-term goals forever. In time, with perseverance, the right balance will be struck.
And so I continue this journey of watching a brilliant new life unfold. Grateful that this little being has opened my heart in ways that no other experience has.