Prior to little sleep, lots of feedings, tons of diapers, and the cutest baby smiles, life as a family of three was pretty balanced in our house. I would wake up before work to practice yoga and meditation at home. I could sneak in a run before work or after work since Cole was at school until 6pm. If I needed to do any of those things in the evening or on the weekend, Christian and Cole hung out and gave me my time. Now that Chet is a part of the mix, I still haven’t redefined our family balance in terms of finding time for running, yoga and meditation.
It’s not the diapers or the feedings or even the lack of sleep that keeps me away from those things. It’s me. I could easily leave Chet in his bouncy chair while he’s happy to sneak in a quick yoga practice. I could try to get him to nap somewhere besides the moby wrap. I could put him in the BOB to go for a run. But I don’t want to do any of these things. My heart is happiest when I have my itty bitty baby with me. I don’t want to miss a smile or a laugh (which are slowly starting to form).
Right around Chet’s 4th week of life, I hit a wall. Chet was crying every night for hours. He still wasn’t sleeping for more than 2 hours each night. I felt like I must be doing something wrong. On Chet’s 4th week update, my friend wrote the following comment that changed my entire perception of parenting during the rough patches:
I got through the constant screaming and crying by whispering in her ear constantly “Mommy loves you so much. I promise it won’t be like this always…it’s just for now. And then you will feel SO much better and will laugh and play.” Really, it was my method of maintaining calm by talking myself off a ledge and reminding myself that it truly is just a couple of months out of a lifetime.
Her comment (thank you Jessica!) brought me back to what I already knew in my heart but lost somewhere between Chet’s birth and week 4 of his life. I needed to take everything I love about running, yoga, and meditation and I need to give those gifts to my son. I need to breathe. I need to use positive affirmations to get through the tough stuff. I need to let go of my frustration and give my baby a safe peaceful place to grow. I took the tears and self-doubt I was feeling about myself and turned them into a positive things for Chet. I quit thinking that I can’t make my baby happy. Instead I started telling him that I love him. That it is hard to be baby and to grow so fast. I told him if he needed to cry I would rock and bounce and sway as much as he needed me too. I told him that I was there to support him through his tough journey. I took myself out of the equation and I brought it back to my baby.
It worked. The crying became less stressful. He cried a lot less. I cried a lot less. His crying and my breathing became a form of mediation for me. I started to find peace knowing that I was being Chet’s best mom in that moment.
We didn’t stop there. I took this practice and applied it to our night-time routine. Chet was no longer sleeping comfortably on my chest at night. He was showing signs that he wanted to stretch out and to grunt on his own. He wasn’t sleeping peacefully with me anymore. Although he was getting sleep, I certainly was not. It was time to move Chet into his Moses basket for the evening hours. I placed Chet in his basket. I turned on his musical seahorse. I rocked him (his basket is on a rocking stand). I focused on my breath. We found a rhythm and a pattern in this process. It became calming and relaxing. Chet now sleeps in his basket throughout the night (with a few feeding in between). Chet is sleeping. Mom is sleeping. The moments in between our sleep have now become a peaceful beautiful time with just me and Chet.
Although I haven’t taken time to sit quietly and work on my mediation practice each day, these moments with my baby have become my form of mediation. It rejuvinates my heart. I feel centered and relaxed. I have found the same calm and peace that I normally find in mediating in all these moments with my baby.
This practice is something I want to further explore. As soon as I started breathing with my baby, I knew that there had to be more. I knew that there had to be things I could do to extend these lessons to parenting Cole. There had to be things I could to do to bring them into my relationship with Christian. At the same time I was having these thoughts, another friend was already exploring these ideas with her family. She introduced me to a book called Momfulness. I just received the book in the mail this weekend. Per my friend’s advice, I’m devouring the book on my first read. In one nap, I’ve read nearly half the book. It is everything I’ve been thinking put into practical practice. I plan on exploring each exercise introduced in the book and finding things that work for me and my family.
The best gift I can give myself and my family is being present in each moment I interact with them. This book will allow me to explore my mediation practice while parenting both my boys and while being Christian’s wife. I may not choose to take 10 minutes each day to mediate on my own, but I can certainly find peace in my time with all 3 men in my life.
My friend also blogs about her journey to remain present in her daily life. Go read it. It’s inspiring and motivating.