What does your yoga practice have to do with self-love? Stephanie Birch talks about the process of showing up on the mat for herself, how it gave her purpose, turned pain into passion, and love into life.Read more
When life makes you a mother, you’ll need a support group for that. The kind of cheer squad that says, “I am with you, been there, done that. You’ve got this!” I chuckle as I type this to find the humor in one of the toughest “jobs” in the world. I don’t say, “tough” to mean I don’t love it. It’s quite opposite actually. Being a mama is one of my greatest joys and loves, in fact, and yet it is one of the most challenging life adventures! I am sure many mamas can relate.
If you are a parent that has never been wide-eyed and knuckling your coffee cup, I'm not sure we can be friends. I say that lovingly because some days feel like I am gripping. Some days, this parenting trip exhausts the hairs up my arms and the three on my two big toes. The admission to say this publicly drips green with guilt, I finger-tap-on anyway. Because I know, deep down into my bones, that not everyday has me clinging to comforts of coffee cups. During the days I find myself at my wits and patience ends, I often am in search of another mama or dear friend to take my hand and say, “I’ve been there too, mama.”
Here's what I do know, saying this hard stuff is not easy, but it's harder holding it in perfecting smiles for a crowd. There's this bubble-effect where we, as women, try to keep ourselves primed and prepped for the world. We paint under the eyes to cover the dark circles as if to say to the world, "look, I'm not tired, see? No circles!” I’ve experienced the straight-faced judgment stare-down from a mom telling me her child has never had a public tantrum, as mine flails in the dirt. That mom and me simply cannot be friends. We’ve become so discombobulated by parenting labels and food policing on the playgrounds that such pressures create a divide, rather than a system of support. As if we need more labels, rules, and separation standards in this life gig.
There are some parents that cling to perfect life, sometimes I imagine it’s simply by omission; as if to broadcast life perfections makes for some prized collection. The relationship with the perfect sex life after children, the mom with the perfect vagina after birth, the perfect everything after children. We are not one of those couples, I am not one of those women, and we are not one of those families. Our days, however, are really fantastic and mostly, I am hanging on by a thread dreaming of next morning's coffee press and singing kid bop, coloring, alphabetizing, chasing, snuggling, negotiating screen time, smelling kid farts, and praising the air when the night falls so this mama can have a little chill time to herself or alone with her Mister.
Some days, I feel like a winner simply by the company I keep. The mamas that will take a call or stop by on a whim for a venting-release session. They are the mamas that offer childcare so Mr. Tiller and I can have a date night. All of the women in my life don’t hide behind perfection; they say what’s hard and give nod to a healthy dose of tough love and share the “me too” life-parenting scenarios. Some days, when I feel like I’ve hit a parenting wall, a friend that simply checks in is all the support I need. I would not be here without my backup of mama-bears.
I raise a glass to all the mothering women, whether you’re a parent or not, for being a supportive figure in my life. Thank you for your loving and nurturing honesty. Your admission of having a messy house, wearing oatmeal crusted pants while sharing stories of escape, and rocking the mama top-bun from sun-up to happy hour sun-down has filled me with more comfort and love than I can ever express. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are not alone, even through our differences, we are so much the same. Though the highs and lows, supporting each other through this wildly, beautiful thing called life.
I hold close to the mamas near and far, directly and indirectly in my life. The mamas that inspire me are some of the most kind, loving, strong, creative, and hilariously-witty women on the planet. Some of the mamas I follow in powerfully connecting world, through social media, say what’s real even when life is beautifully challenging. Some of the mamas that breathe life into my life: Jen Pastiloff (@jenpastiloff of @nobullshitmotherhood) is a new mama, writer and yoga teacher that travels the world leading others On Being Human. Rachel Brathen (@yoga_girl of @oneOeight.tv) is a mama to be, yoga teacher, and author sharing her real-life experience and emotions on pregnancy (she is about to have a little girl). Karly Treacy (@karlytreacy) is a mom of 3 and yoga teacher shares her weekly #MCM which is “Mom Crush Monday” introducing all kinds of mamas to the world every Monday. Joanne Encarnacion (@gofitjo, you may recognize her as one of the other lovely lucy Activewear ambassadors) gets really-real about motherhood, body image, and self-love and discovery is never-ending.
Here’s to you and your motherhood tribe of loving and supportive women. May we lift and encourage each other, always.