The Weight of the World
It's a heavy, heavy time. Russia is invading Ukraine. There is an unrelenting assault on trans rights in Texas. We're about to enter year 3 of this pandemic.
I've been struggling with wanting to do more - more activism, more fundraising, more supporting communities outside of my own.
I've also been struggling with what to say about it all. The unfairness. The complete heartbreak. The seething anger at those who intentionally bring suffering to others.
I've gone outside. Played games with my kids. Sat in silence. Called friends.
I've let the grief take up residence and noticed how the guilt flows in and out like waves.
And I keep coming back to a lesson I've already learned a thousand times:
We are doing incredibly important work.
It's not all about gratitude
The holidays can be a mix of everything - deep gratitude, devastating grief, overwhelming joy, immense frustration, and so much more.
There are multiple layers in the national tradition of Thanksgiving - is it about gratitude? Or mourning? And on the individual level of our families there can be so many different dynamics as well.
I have found a few wonderful posts on instagram recently that I wanted to share with you as we enter into the holiday season - because they all say it better than I do :)
How do I receive support?
Thank you for diving into our September Theme - What do I need? We talked about checking in with our bodies and our feelings, texting friends for accountability, getting sleep, making time for yoga and meditation, and so much more.
Now, we're taking the next step - Being open to receiving support.
When was the last time someone offered to help out and you said "Oh yes! I'd so appreciate that. Thank you!"?
Likely, your automatic response is "Oh it's ok, I've got this." Even if life feels completely overwhelming.
Because in our culture we're supposed to do it all.
What do I need? Step 1!
I'm here to dive in with you on starting to answer the question "What do I need?" And we'll begin with two more questions:
1. How do I feel right now?
To me, this is the first step in figuring out what I need - checking in with how I'm feeling. We usually notice a feeling when it is REALLY present - like complete exhaustion, pure joy, overwhelming stress, etc. but with practice we can check-in on the more subtle or nuanced feelings - check out this excerpt from Do Less by Kate Northrup on tuning in to ourselves.
Remember, all feelings are valid! This great Brené Brown Podcast with Mark Brackett (author of Permission to Feel) has other great ideas for getting in touch with our feelings.
It can be helpful to write these down. We can only begin from where we are and acknowledging that is the first step. Then, move on to the next question -
We had big dreams for this community. We wanted this to be a place you could go for advice, to feel supported, make connections, and meet up in real life (remember what that was like?).
Because it was already hard enough to be a parent. It was already isolating and lonely. And now this. Our vision for this community (and, lets face it, most of what we wanted to do in 2020) was completely derailed by Covid-19.
But now the need is greater. The isolation deeper. The parenting so much harder. As a friend of mine recently wrote to me, "I've never felt such a convergence of heaviness and turmoil." Me either.
So we're here to figure it out together. Amidst caring for ourselves and our children, trying to maintain relationships, managing risk tolerance, and taking on a completely overwhelming and unreasonable amount of emotional labor.
This month we're going to start to figure out what we need.
We're often given the advice "ask for help!" Which is great, and incredibly powerful when receive it, but we have to know what to ask for.
We may ask ourselves: What will actually help? Maybe it's a shower every morning. Someone to take your kids for a day (or a month?!). It could be a scholarship so you can take a yoga class or join a mamas circle. Or a really big ugly cry. The time and brain space to read an anti-racist book to your 4-year-old and talk about it. A social media detox. Long walks as a family. A visit with an elderly relative. The reminder that you're not in this alone.
We're here for you - to teach and learn and completely mess up together. We always love your feedback, thoughts, honesty, and realness.
Thank you for being a part of our community!
No Easy Choices
I can't tell you how many conversations I've had about how hard it is to make decisions in this covid-19 world. There are so many factors. So much (and so little) research. So much news. So many contradictory studies. So much advice from well-meaning (and maybe some not-so-well-meaning) people in our lives.
I have friends whose kids haven't missed a day of daycare this year and others who have not been anywhere except their homes and the outdoors since mid-March.
Some of us can't imagine doing this one more day. Others have settled into a rhythm that works for their family. I have those same two thoughts sometimes within 5 minutes.
Advocating for ourselves
While pregnancy and motherhood often feel completely all-consuming, there's nothing like a pandemic and full-on 24/7 parenting to remind us that it's SO HARD. The uncertainty, guilt, and need for a real break have punctuated all of my recent conversations. So here's our timely reminder that we need to advocate for ourselves, ask for help, and prioritize our own well-being.
During pregnancy, not only are we building a human being with our bodies, we are also morphing from an autonomous individual mostly free to spend our time, energy and resources any way we like into a person with responsibilities for others lives and well-being. We begin to feel the limitations of our time, energy and resources as we experience sickness, exhaustion, physical pain and discomfort, or simply getting too big at some point to tie our own shoes or go for a run.
In becoming a mother, we lose some of our autonomy, but we gain many other things, including a deeper sense of self and purpose in life for things in and outside of our home. We become oriented to a deeper richer fuller life if we allow ourselves the transformation.
But we can’t transform alone. We need help. We need to advocate for ourselves and our needs. While motherhood is a time of giving to the next generation, it is also a time of asking for and receiving help. The task is too big to do alone as an autonomous individual.
Check in on your people!
There have always been ups and downs in life - but never have they felt so acute for me as immediately postpartum with both of my children and continuing into parenthood.
In the span of 30 seconds I can be grateful for our health, completely overwhelmed by the state of the world (and the state of my house), in love with my kids' yogurt-covered faces, and desperate for a minute to myself. My feelings are amplified and contradictory.
I want to share a combined lesson I learned at a young age: everyone's struggle is real and there is enough empathy in the world to go around.
Those of you who have had children know that so much of the transformation to motherhood happens behind closed doors. It is largely invisible to the world. It is also a monumental shift. It’s real work.
In a newborn group this week, several new moms spoke about how guilty they’ve felt that they are sitting around feeding babies while partners do everything (or don’t do everything and there’s conflict!).
They are watching
I've been feeling the outward call to action in response to the injustice and tragedy in our country. The need to do something, anything. And while there are great organizations to support and resources to gather we also need the reminder that transformation begins with us. In our own internal landscapes, with our families, our neighbors, and our communities.
This wonderful post from Paula Kuka is a great reminder:
I hope you'll be able to make some time for reflection this week. Looking at our own values, lives, and actions so we can use this amazing gift of motherhood to make the world a better place through our own actions and as role models for our children.
No one gives birth but you
While we do often have support around us, giving birth is an experience we go through alone under any circumstance, pandemic or not. Birth is happening in your body, with your body, and ideally, with your full participation of your own internal experience. It’s a Heroine’s Journey. (A Hero’s Journey is the masculine experience of adventuring out into the world, whereas a Heroine’s Journey is the experience of going inward to heal and reclaim our feminine power.)
Though it is a solitary journey, we can support and bear witness to each other, share our experiences, learn from each other, and build a new world that works for all, together, as a result.
There are many ways to experience the Heroine’s Journey. Pregnancy is one of the most tangible. Pregnancy is an internal, alchemical process, as you build a human in your body with your body. Creating, holding and growing life where there was none before. Please allow that to sink in. Really. If we understood the miracle of that, we could no longer have violence against women. Nor could we have violence against anyone who’s life was created by a woman. And we would trust women to know what’s best for her body, her life, and her family.
Owning this sacred, internal process is vitally important, now more than ever.
We cannot go on ignoring the sacredness of the lives we women bring into the world.
The Heroine’s Journey does not stop with pregnancy and birth. It is, however, an essential first step to the rest of your life as Mother. No one else will be Mother to your child but you. You may have proxies, but no one else will ever fill that role but you. No one will know and advocate for your child like you will. Partners, family members, friends and caregivers have their very important roles to play, but you alone are Mother. No one will give birth but you. No one will Mother but you. And no one will give birth to you as Mother but you.
There was just a really great recent thread on our companion list serve about essentials for a hospital birth - especially items not covered by the basic lists available online. Here are what 10+ moms in our community shared...
How do you/can you feel supported?
Happy Mother's Day! It's a day for US - to feel celebrated, appreciated, and supported.
But many of us are finding this especially hard with stay-at-home orders and social distancing. Everyone is overwhelmed and we are doing more than we ever should on our own. We were meant to give birth and raise our babies and children in community!
Many of our conversations over the past few weeks have been about our traditional sources of support disappearing with COVID-19 - just a few of the ways we've heard your plans unravel:
-My doula can't come to the hospital to support me in labor
-I can't introduce my rainbow baby to my best friends
-My husband may miss the birth of our second child because my in-laws can't come to help
-The (relatively) quiet maternity leave I had planned to bond with my baby is now filled with toddler tantrums and homeschooling
-My sister who was supposed to come be with me can't fly in from California
-Daycare is closed and I can't get any work done with my kids at home
-I am feeling anxious and don't have anyone to reach out to
We've also heard so many creative ways to ask for (and say yes to!) support even amidst a pandemic - here are a few ideas:
Pregnancy and early motherhood are already filled with uncertainty - the added layer of a global pandemic may make it feel close to impossible to make plans and decisions.
What about my birth plan? Or family and friends who were going to come and help? What about childcare? Or any of the other plans we had for the next few months?
Here's an article from Motherly about how to adapt your Birth Plan. One of my favorite questions from the article: Are you making decisions out of fear or in confidence?
Thoughts on pregnancy, birth and motherhood.
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