CELEBRATING MOTHERS: THESE AMAZING MOMS SHARE THEIR STORIES OF CHALLENGES, LOVE, AND PRACTICES
We want to create a culture and community that supports, nurtures, and celebrates mothers. Mothers need our help, our time, and encouragement. Everyone talks about the sweetness of motherhood, but rarely about the real struggles that we face. Mothers today are up against so much judgment. Breastfeeding in public, not breastfeeding long enough or too long, what you feed your children, and the list goes on. Rarely do we have time for ourselves, giving almost everything to others. It’s time we get real about the realities that we as mothers face.
KARISSA BECKER ON MEDITATION, MOTHERHOOD AND ANGRY BEDTIMES
My son was having a hard time settling down at bedtime, and as he became angrier, I knew we would need to reset our intentions and emotions. I sat up in bed, “Ok, let’s meditate. I can see you’re out of control and we need to be in control to make good decisions.” I invited him to sit with me and said, “I’ll do it with you.” He said, “I’m still going to be angry.” And I said, “That’s ok, let’s try anyway.” And we sat in bed and started breathing. I could see in the darkness he still put his hands on his knees and the crying seemed to slow. I waited for a few breaths; I could feel my own self shift into heart-centered feelings of compassion. I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “I know you’re angry right now. You know what, though? There’s a voice inside your head and it’s telling you to be angry…. You don’t have to listen.”
I waited another breath.
I said, “You could even replace the voice inside your head with a new mantra. You could say to yourself, ‘I can be happy because I get to sleep next to my mom.’ Because you know I’m always here with you.” He had stopped crying and I waited for him to speak next. He looked down at the bed and slowly started to lie down. I took the cue from him and, lifting up the blankets, wrapped him in my arms and snuggled my face into his and kissed him. Another bedtime saved by meditation.
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GASYA GAUKHAR AKHMETOVA-ATHERTON ON PAUSING YOUR CAREER FOR YOUR KIDS
The biggest struggle for me was to stop/pause my career. I decided to start a family and I always wanted to have kids close together in age. It’s been four years now and I have two kids. I’m blessed to have my angels, but a part of me is screaming to go back on stage. It was hard, but I did find a solution. I started to train at home, and my daughter saw me doing my routine so she decided she wanted to join me. So from now on, she’s my inspiration and motivation and we do train and work out together. My son is slowly starting to join us, too.
SUMMER PEREZ ON SETTING THE ENERGY, PATIENCE, AND FORGIVING YOURSELF
Many of the most important things that I have found in this journey through motherhood are about shifting mindset. As a mother, I have a big role in the energy of the home. I thought the whole “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” thing was just something people said until I saw how my moods really affected the entire household. I learned that at any given moment, I can choose to see things differently, causing me to be more conscious of how I feel throughout the day. If I forget to do so, the kids will become mirrors and reflect it back to me. Being a mother to these two beautiful souls has opened my heart, mind, and soul in so many ways. Every moment presents itself as an opportunity to learn a new lesson or practice a previous one.
And that’s one of those moments when patience is needed. With practice, patience becomes easier and easier. There will be a lot of repetition, some meltdowns, and messy homes, but having patience has helped make the meltdowns end quickly, the home get cleaned faster, and allowed me to really connect with my kids. And as for the onslaught of “but why” questions, I have learned that a long, scientific answer usually gets a stare and then a thoughtful “huh.” And no more questions. Which leads into learning to embrace the little things in life (because they really do matter). The morning hugs and the farewell greetings, the play times and mealtimes, all have an immense impact on our family.
Being absolutely present for those moment allows us to really see each other and hear what the other has to say. Motherhood has brought me more into the present moment than ever before. And it has also had me giggling and playing so much that sometimes I feel as if I’m getting another chance at childhood. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons I have learned is to forgive myself. I won’t have all the answers, nor will I be able to make the best decision all the time, but I will try to do the best that I can with what I have and allow myself to start all over if need be without beating myself up about it. When things go south, and it’s getting hard to see the light, I remind myself to breathe and be love, and to keep moving forward. Everything will be alright. Life is no longer about me; it’s about what I can do to make this world a better place for my kids, her kids, your kids, and for you. And I believe that by supporting each other as we go through this immense transformation that parenthood brings, we can become the change that we wish to see in the world with our children following in our footsteps.
AMANDA JOE HELLER ON LETTING GO AND JUST BEING
Being a mother to a sweet and spirited boy has gifted me the biggest lesson of just BEING and LETTING GO. Motherhood isn’t easy. Some days it brings me adventures and amazing heart-filled moments, while other days it brings me to tears. Some days I know exactly what I need to do, and some days I just have no idea. There is always this challenge of surrendering to not really being in control.
I want to be part of the growth of a human being who is able to express himself and able to problem-solve and not feel confined or muted. In order to do this, I cannot grab onto the reins all the time. Freedom to be is so necessary for growth. I have found that this theme is universal, not just in my motherhood, but in my yoga, my life.
When I grab on and dig my talons in for control, I feel confined and hardened. When I give in to the sweet freedom of flowing with life, I find softness. When we allow life to flow, and allow our moments to be as they are, we can cultivate more love and a greater fullness of living. Motherhood is yoga in itself, and the big topic for me is just being. Letting Go and JUST BEING.
JASMINE ROSE ON PREMATURE LABOR AND DEPRESSION
Much like yoga, motherhood has a way of stripping us down to our most vulnerable selves, revealing our brilliant light, compassion, unconditional love, as well as our less flattering features. My first lessons in motherhood were of struggle. I felt I had been thrust into a world I wasn’t yet ready for; at 36 weeks pregnant my daughter was born and carried away in a stranger’s arms, and I had to go home without her for two weeks. The moments after her birth would be a blur of heart-aching numbness, and the months after that would be covered in a thick fog of depression and confusion.
Through self-love and a daily yoga practice, I began to see that period of my life for what it really was: a time of renewal, regrowth, and the very thing that shaped me to become the woman that I am today. I began to see the strength, not only in myself, but in all women. I learned to surrender to moments of struggle and embrace the growth that comes with it: on and off the mat. I try to no longer resist difficulties, and for that I am forever grateful to my tiny gurus who continue Omshantimom.com to teach me every day!
AMY DAVIDSON ON HOW PREGNANCY CHANGES OUR PRACTICE AND THE EMOTIONAL CHALLENGES OF MOTHERHOOD
Photo: Lu Tapp
I’ve been doing yoga since 2008. I remember a girlfriend dragging me to a class kicking and screaming, saying I would just absolutely love it! After an hour and a half of what felt like torture, I left feeling refreshed, strong, and inspired. Yoga filled a void that I didn’t know even existed. I became addicted, wanting to calm my mind, along with strengthening my body. It was such a natural fit for me and the emotional and physical workout was what I had been seeking and didn’t even know. I’ve been an avid yogi ever since! Before I got pregnant, I would go to class probably five times a week and challenge myself to continually grow. After I got pregnant, my doctor asked me to slow down. He recommended not going upside down. I really struggled with that at first. Classes became boring, and I was frustrated. I know this sounds silly, but I felt like I lost a little bit of myself during that time period. Then I started to feel the baby kick, and truly nothing else mattered. There was a shift. I was pregnant, and the baby was in class with me! I cannot think of anything more special. We meditated together. I was able to slow down my mind once again, which I know relaxed the baby. It was our break from the busy day. I had found my “yoga” again.
After I gave birth to Lennox, a whole new set of emotional challenges began. He was born nine weeks ago, and I have been back to class maybe once or twice a week. Although my practice is starting to grow again, my first couple classes back felt like they were missing something. My yoga buddy wasn’t kicking me and hanging out, while I was doing something I was so passionate about. My first time back, I cried almost the entire class. I felt empty. Something like a handstand that used to make me so excited felt so meaningless without him inside my belly. It’s amazing the perspective motherhood brings.
Now that I’m two months postpartum, everything has gotten so much better. Yoga has become something that fills me up again, instead of making me melancholy. I’m really focused on what the practice of yoga continues to teach me. I take the time to go within, focus on my breath, and remember why I fell in love with this practice in the first place. I am blown away by the female body and what we go through during pregnancy, birth, and afterwards. Yoga prepared me for birth and keeps me strong as I continue to practice postpartum. Through yoga I have found a way to quiet my mind and settle into my body. When I go too long without going to class, my mind starts to race and my body locks up. It’s extraordinary to me that having a practice and staying true to it keeps my mind and body healthy. I encourage everyone to go to yoga.