It was the very last thing I wanted to do-- surrender to motherhood.
Having a baby wasn’t going to change me or my life or my marriage or anything else. Having a baby was simply going to be an ADDITION to everything else I had in my life, because well... it was MY life. Right? And in MY life I was the one who had control. I had it all planned out. I’m sure my daughter, still in the womb, was laughing at my naiveté and arrogance. She was born fiercely into this world and all my “plans” came right out, too. With all of my motherhood expectations not being met and my former life gone I fell into a deep crevasse of what-the-f*#@-just-happened!?
What happened was the clichéd reality that strikes most new moms today: “a baby changes everything.” I was no exception...
I had expected to still have many evenings to myself, wear cute, wrinkle-free, no-spit-up clothes, still be on time for plans that were scheduled, have a picked-up and neat house, continue my yoga practice uninterrupted for at least an hour, have date-nights with my husband, etc., etc.
Of course, none of this happened. My clothes would sit in the dryer for at least a day before I got around to putting them away, all nice and wrinkly. I usually had to cancel plans, so forget about being on time. Just showing up was a big deal!
My yoga practice was reduced to deep breaths as I tried to stay calm in the Target checkout as everyone stared at my screaming daughter. Date nights?....Three years later and we're still trying to work those in.
But, I still WANTED all of my expectations to be met and more. So instead of adapting, I found myself resisting just about every bit that was thrown my way those first few months of motherhood.
I thought that fighting and resisting change or resisting the things I didn’t like meant that I was showing the universe that I wouldn’t accept it and didn’t approve.
My resistance was supposed to be a signal to the universe to change things for me because I didn’t like what was currently going on.
Imagine my surprise when the universe didn’t seem to get my message and how much more I resisted the long days at home alone, never getting sleep, and the ongoing demands of an infant.
I paid a dear price for that resistance with a lot of despair, anger, resentment, and overwhelm. Not an optimal way to start out the journey of motherhood!
When my daughter was a few months old, I suddenly had the realization that my new life of motherhood wasn’t going to change much. She was here to stay and there was nothing to get “back to”. There was only this new life as a mother. She wasn’t going anywhere. I was going to be a mom for the rest of my life. And I’d better figure out how to be OK with this new life- fast!!
What I needed to do was surrender to the journey. Through all of the changes and challenges I needed to acknowledge that motherhood was my new truth, my present reality.
Whoever is soft and yielding
is a disciple of life.
The hard and stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail.
- Tao Te Ching
Resisting “what is” didn’t help me, ever. Of course, I didn’t have to LIKE some of the things that were happening such as epic sleep deprivation. But the energy it took my body to furiously fight my reality drained what little energy I already had, and as the Tao Te Ching says, broke me. I had refused to yield to my new life.
“HELLO RESISTANCE... SURRENDER TO THIS.”
This is my internal mantra nowadays, whenever I hear myself yelling in my head like an obstinate toddler; “No! I don’t want it to be like this!!! No!”
I bring awareness to and acknowledge the resistance. And then I invite surrender instead.
Being aware of my resistance is key. Awareness breaks apart and dispels the power resistance has in my mindlessness brain. It’s a very simple technique, but powerful and remembering to do it is the tricky part.
Over time, I find it’s getting a bit easier and more consistent. The universe gives me ample opportunity to practice this!! And I still need a lot of practice (like when my daughter refused to sleep on a 5 hour, overnight plane ride and wailed and cried instead).
Special note- this mantra doesn’t apply to things I can change. I use this for the things I experience that are out of my control, that are beyond what I can change.
If you feel there are things in your life as a mother, or life in general, that you are resisting, try this short mantra and see what happens in your mind and body.
Observe if there is a physical sensation of release. See if it frees up some energy in your body, even a small amount. See if your mind wants to argue against the mantra and justify its resistance.
Observe if you can change your MIND instead of trying to change your unchangeable present moment. And if the mind doesn't immediately shift into surrender, that's OK. It takes time and repetition!
Experiment with it and you may find a release to the resistance you feel in life and motherhood.