A week and a half ago, YogaBaby got her first bad cold with a fever. Coincidentally, it was also the first time my husband F had to travel for business since YB was born. My mom came down and stayed home with YB on Thursday, since she couldn’t go to daycare, but the two of us were on our own Thursday night. I was pretty terrified: YB hadn’t been sleeping well anyway, and now she was sick. How would we get through the night?
It was an incredibly hard night, but we did get through it. I was there with my poor sick girl every time she woke up, over and over all night, ready with comforting arms (and boobs) to soothe her. It was the best mothering I’ve done since YB came into my life – I didn’t think about it or complain, I just did. As I rocked her to sleep one more time and watched the sun rise early that Friday morning, I let myself realize that the hard night was over – in a few hours we would go to the doctor, and a few hours after that, F would be home from his trip to help share the load.
Fast forward to Sunday morning. YB’s fever was long gone, but she was still under the weather, and even with F by my side, it had been a rough weekend. We were all tired and grumpy, me most of all, and I wanted a break. No nap or quiet time in the swing was long enough for me. I felt angry and resentful at being so needed, defeated and discouraged about my independence. What happened to that supermom who’d been here just a few nights ago? I hate being angry, and it was even worse to be angry at my little sick baby who couldn’t help being miserable. I broke down and cried.
I had been hoping to go to yoga class on Sunday afternoon, but after the weekend we’d had, I thought I should stay home instead. F made me go. The baby, feeling fine, was hanging out in her stroller helping her dad rake leaves as I drove away. The yoga class at EEY was taught by a sub, one of the current YTT students about to graduate in two weeks, and meeting her gave me a chance to reflect on where I was one year ago at the end of my teacher training. Throughout the class, I focused on centering myself here, right now on my mat, letting go of all the anger and bad energy I’d been feeling, reaching towards my truest self and the patience and kindness I know live there.
After class, I felt refreshed, as if the reserves inside me had been empty and now were full again (or, if not full, at least not empty anymore!). I came home feeling like I had something to give to my family again. Of course, when the baby cried for half an hour as we tried to eat dinner, I lost my composure again, but anyone would have felt that way, and later on in the evening I reached for patience and was able to find it.
This experience made me think about a few things in yogic terms. First, it was important for me to remember that sometimes I need to take care of myself first. I want to give my best self to my daughter, and if I’m exhausted physically and emotionally, I can’t possibly do that. This is such a vital thing to remember, and such an easy thing to discount and forget.
Also, examining my feelings and realizing I was angry made me think back to my musings on yoga and emotion last year. First, I had to acknowledge that I was angry, not just to myself but to my husband, out loud, and share my frustrations and fears, and let loose some of the intensity of the emotion by crying it out. Too often I bottle things up, which only serves to make me angrier in the long term. Then, according to Patanjali, the way to end negative emotions is to cultivate the opposite emotion instead. For me in this situation, the opposite of my anger was patience, kindness, my love for my baby, and my compassion, both for her feeling sick and for myself feeling tired and worn out. When I was able to focus on these qualities in a thoughtful way through my yoga practice, the anger dissolved.
I also needed to remember that I can’t be a supermom all the time. Sometimes I’ll do a great job, and other times I won’t, but that doesn’t make me a bad mother or a bad person. It just makes me human. We all strive for perfection (and I think I have a separate post brewing on that topic), but in an imperfect world, we have to take the good with the bad. I will never be a perfect supermom, but in all my imperfections, I’m still a super mom.