A letter to my firstborn on your 10th birthday

Wow!  I can’t believe today you are 10 years old and that it’s been that long since I “officially” became your mom.  I remember seeing the two pink lines on the pregnancy test and knowing my life would never be the same.  And here we are, a full decade since I gave birth to you, and I was absolutely correct.

Pregnancy awakened the mother in me and showed me how precious life truly is.  When I felt your first kicks, my heart filled with more love than it had ever held.  I lack the words to fully express how that moment forever changed me, but at that moment the awareness of the sanctity of it all kicked in.

As my belly grew, so did my love for you and my curiosity about you.  I remember going into labor and wondering who you would be and what you would look like.  I had a feeling you were a boy, although I didn’t know for sure.

While I was in labor, I wished for many things for you.

That you would know love, peace, the beauty of a rainbow, and how truly special you were.  Life, in all it’s forms is miraculous, and you are no exception.

You are kind, loving, intelligent, and all the other nice things moms say about their children.

Your presence in my life has made me a better person in more ways than I can count.  Your love and grace have allowed me to be perfectly imperfect as I navigate motherhood daily.

My heart now holds more love than I ever imagined it could.

The depth of the emotions I feel as a mom is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.  When you were born, you also birthed a new version of me, one that feels and loves more deeply than I ever imagined possible.  My laugh is louder and my tears are bigger.

I love watching you grow and learn new things.  I think by now you’ve read about 1000 books, and I hope you never stop reading and learning.  From the day you took your first step, to watching you practice capoeira and help take care of your younger siblings, you’ve amazed me.

I hope I am doing right by you. The world can often seem crazy and I want you to know I will always be your safe place.  You can come to me and share what’s on your heart, no matter what.  I can’t promise I’ll always agree with what your saying, but I do promise I will always listen with an open mind and a loving heart.

As you enter young-man-hood, remember to stay true to who you are.  Society, your friends, and even your dad and I may think you need to be a certain way, but I hope you don’t listen.  Keep practicing your acting faces in the mirror and figuring out who you are.  Knowing yourself is the deepest truth you will ever know, and also the most sacred.

Thank you for coming to me as my firstborn child.

Thank you for your kind heart, your love of animals, and your sweet hugs.

Thanks for showing me what it means to be fully alive and present.

Thank you for everything you are and everything you will be.

I love you.

Nobody Told Me

Nobody told me that after giving birth to my baby I would have to deliver the placenta

Nobody told me how much emotion would rush over me upon seeing my newborn’s face for the first time

Nobody told me how hard it is to be the mother of a newborn

Nobody told me how much new babies need to nurse and how little sleep I would get

Nobody told me how isolating it would be to be a new mom

Nobody told me my postpartum hormones would make me feel as if I was losing my mind at times

Nobody told me how much love my heart could hold

Nobody told me my child’s smile and laugh would light up my whole world

Nobody told me how exciting it would be to hear my child speak their first word

Nobody told me how wonderful it is to watch a human being develop

Nobody told me my child would forgive me no matter what

Nobody told me I could make another being so happy and they would do the same for me

Nobody told me how amazing and difficult the whole experience would be

Nobody told me about the majesty of motherhood

 

What is your home base?

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My youngest walks across the room at his brother’s capoeira studio and gets a piece of paper. He also brings one crayon. He colors with that crayon on the paper, then calls for me to look at it. He walks across the room again and changes crayons. He colors with the new crayon and again asks me to look at his artwork. He does this a few more times and then he is finished with his masterpiece.  For now, I am his home base. He comes to me for recognition, love, comfort, and his milk.

I encourage you to think about what your “home base” is.  How do you find your center? What brings you peace and calm? Is it a walk on the beach? A conversation with a friend? A hot cup of tea? A run?

I invite you now, if possible, to find a quiet place where you can spend a few minutes just being and breathing. Create a space for yourself with blankets or pillows where you can comfortably lie down. Once you are comfortable, close your eyes and allow your body to begin to relax.  Feel your breath moving through you. On your next inhalation bring your breath up through the bottoms of your feet to the top of your head. As you exhale, scan your body from your head to your toes, releasing any tension you may be retaining as you breath out. Repeat this process for five to minutes.

Taking time to breathe in our busy lives is vital to our well being. I hope that you honor yourself, and return to your home base as often as needed.

Be well,

Sarah

A Letter from My Mom

imageI have a letter that my mom wrote me for a special occasion and I treasure it. In order to make sure the words stay with me forever, I will type what it says here. This is an out of the ordinary post for me….but it’s important.

Sarah,

I hope that you will get to experience a special event like this with your children. You are doing a beautiful job and my heart is filled with so much love and pride.

On June 16th, 1980, I had one of the greatest surprises of my life. You were born almost two months early, but that didn’t stop you from being a feisty baby. You were on your own timetable and still continue that trend. Sarah, you never cease to amaze me with what you are capable of saying and doing. In other words, you are full of surprises both good and bad.

Sarah was and is a survivor. In a lot of ways, she reminds me of her Great Grandmother Sarah for whom she is named. Great Grandma Sarah was strong willed and filled with determination. She attended my wedding at almost 90 years of age and walked down the aisle when doctors told her it wouldn’t be possible.

Sarah has these same traits and they have helped her get through some difficult times in our family. You can’t begin to imagine how much her love and support has meant to me. She is a very special young woman. I pray that she continues to be independent and think for herself. I wish that the love and good feelings that are here today will grow and always be a part of Sarah’s life.

May Sarah’s life be filled with friends and family that are there to share her good times and bad. May Sarah always be herself and stay on her own timetable even if it means being different. May she have the strength to stand up for what she believes in.

And most important of all, may she always remember that she is never alone as long as she believes in G-d.

Phew….I cry every time I read it. I miss my mom daily, and love her so very much.

Be well, everybody. And hug your loved ones.

Sarah

Laughter and Honesty

              

When I was depressed, there was one thing that I could always count on to make me laugh, an episode of the Golden Girls.  I was sure to watch it daily at 10pm.  Watching them took me out of my own life and allowed me to feel free.  Thank you, Rose, Dorothy, Sophia and Blanche for all the laughs and lessons learned. They taught me about sisterhood and honesty. Presently, I can tell you how important my mama friends are to me.  I love them all.

Every woman could benefit from having a few close female friends in her life. Historically, women were in other women’s company while the men were out gathering food.  In some traditional cultures, this is still the case.  The women are picking tea leaves or grinding grain, together.  For me, it is key to have a friend I can laugh with, one I can cry with, one that encourages me to grow, and one with whom I share a relationship where both parties are able to be completely honest.  These can be 4 separate friends, or one friend all rolled in to one, whichever you prefer.  Build your support system, we could all use a friend to share a laugh with or a shoulder to cry on at one time or another.

Being honest about motherhood is a courtesy we owe to our fellow mamas.  Why did no one tell me that after you birth your baby you also need to deliver the placenta?!?   Maybe this is information that is traditionally passed from mothers to daughters, I don’t know. Of course I know this now and I love placentas, but really, it would have been nice to know before the childbirth educator told me.  Or, how home we always hear about a great day a mama had with her children, but rarely about “one of those days?”  We are human.  We have challenging days and not so challenging days, and we should feel comfortable talking about them both.  After all, a battery has both a positive and a negative side.  Balance is a beautiful thing.

 

Letting Life In

Please, close your eyes and listen to the lyrics.  Feel them.

While driving today, I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw the reflections of three beautiful faces.  Joy permeated every cell of my being.  I soaked it all in and continued driving.  It was one of those moments you wish you could capture and hold onto forever.  I did not always have the ability to experience joy.

Nine days after I turned 18, my mom died.  She was sick for ten years so her death wasn’t sudden, but losing her was like a knock out punch straight to my heart.  I battled depression for many years after she passed and dealt with it by eating too much, drinking too much, smoking, taking anti-depressants, and even making myself throw up sometimes. I remember going to the grocery store and buying foods that were easy to bring back up.  I was sick and needed help.  I was mean, miserable and unable to experience joy or open my heart to anyone.  I didn’t even know who I was and I wasn’t willing to take the time to find out.  I was a b@*#@ and I had no intention on changing that.  I was cruelest to the people I loved the most, including myself.

One day, while I had the end of my toothbrush down my throat in order to make myself throw up, I realized I could not let my entire life pass me by while I was miserable.  For some reason I felt that letting go of the pain would be letting go of my mom, and I wasn’t ready for that.  Instead of harming myself that day, I went for a walk.  It was then that I promised myself I would never intentionally self harm again.  I joined the gym and began my healing journey.

Fast forward to now, and I am living that promise daily.  I take it all in.  I feel the hurt, the pain, the sadness, but also the joy, the love, the happiness and I am present. I am letting life in.

 

 

 

Creating Your Village

arizona_sunrise_92312Meet Cher. She wakes everyday with her heart full of gratitude. She tends to her home and children with joy. All of her daily duties are completed with ease. She has perfect hair, impeccable style and her makeup always looks great. Her children never misbehave or have tantrums in public.  You find yourself wondering….Does she  even fart?

The image of the “perfect mother” may look different to you, but the expectations can seem very real.  We all want the best for our children and oftentimes we strive to do it all like wonder woman.

Mothering is not intended to be done in isolation. Who is part of your village? Are you able to ask for help when you need it? What would it take for you to ask for help?

I am learning to communicate my needs to the people I see most often, my family. My husband may not know that I need the clothes transferred from the washing machine to the dryer, but if I tell him, it gets done. My older two sons are able to help with clearing the dishes from the table and sweeping the kitchen floor.  Sometimes, my 4.5 year old helps wash the dishes.  I take the help when I can get it.  There is no way I can do it all by myself, and if it means I have a heap of clean clothing piled up on a bed, so be it.  Setting realistic daily goals helps me to prioritize and focus my energy where it needs to be.  The clean laundry pile will be there tomorrow, but my boys will never be this young again.

Start thinking about how you can delegate some of your responsibilities.  Create your village, your sister friends, your support team.  And whenever things feel too crazy, take a step back and a deep breath.

Centering Breath

Anytime things start to feel crazy, I take a deep breath.  One of the best ways I’ve found to release any thoughts or feelings that are counter-productive is to let out a huge sigh.

1- Sit (if possible) in a comfortable seated position

2- Allow your eyes to gently close.

3- Begin focusing on your natural breath, and start to breath only through the nose.

4- Lengthen and deepen each breath for about 5 cycles.

5- On your next exhale, release the breath through your mouth and let out an audible sigh.

6- Repeat as often as needed to re-center throughout your day.

You can also do this simple breathing exercise standing up!  It is here for you anytime you need it.

Embracing Motherhood

During my pregnancy I had it all mapped out.  When my baby turned one, I would go to work and use the Master’s Degree I earned.  That was my plan up until the day my son was born.  I looked into his little brown eyes and knew no position I held would be more important than being with this tiny human being.  Six and a half years later, and mothering is still my primary job.

Why did I choose not to go back to work? Because my child needed me.  He was not fond of being too far away from me, or his milk on tap, and I couldn’t see how it would be possible for me to leave him.  That was the first time I realized how much love my son had for me, or his milk ;).  I had many people ask me when I planned to use my degree and wonder if I was bored being just a mom.  To be clear, for me, there is no “just” before that ever important title.

Being a mom means I meet my children where they are and honor their needs numerous times a day. I hug them, hold them, cry with them and most importantly share in their joy.  I express all of my emotions and let them see what it means to be human. Most of all, I love being silly with my boys.  Really letting go and laughing.  And to be honest, being with my children brings me joy.  My sons are my friends.

Some days don’t go as smoothly as I would like.  I raise my voice too many times because someone is not listening. The boys are fighting. The house is a mess. I haven’t yet brushed my teeth and it is time for lunch. These are the days when I really need to step back and see what is needed to get back in the groove.  Most often, the difficult days happen when I haven’t set aside time for my yoga practice, I didn’t get enough sleep, or we aren’t eating quality foods.  My children are a reflection of me and when I haven’t taken the time to be with myself and center, they remind me I am overdue.  Once I set aside the time for a deep breath or a good cry, I am able to refocus and regain my presence.

The slogan for the Peace Corps is, “The toughest job you’ll ever love.”  As a former Peace Corps volunteer, I can say that for me mothering is by far the toughest job I will ever love.

Now, by the small body of my sleeping son

the hidden river in my chest flows with my son’s

and I time my speech to the rhythm of his breath

joining my night with his, singing his night song

as if those waters underground

were secret rivers washing through the soul

bringing out the untold life

which is the stream he’ll join in growing old,

in silent hours when his sureness

of his self recedes.  There he’ll find

the rest between the solid notes

that make the song worthwhile.

David Whyte,

From “Looking Back at Night,”

Where Many Rivers Meet

A Mother’s Unconditional Love

love I was privileged to spend my day yesterday with a beautiful group of human beings.  One of the women, whose husband is my husband’s friend, is mothering two children she did not birth. When I first saw two young babies without their mothers, I cried. (That sensitive heart of mine.) My husband encouraged me to see the bright side of the situation, that they were being taken care of by a wonderful family and they are loved.  I wiped my tears and continued to watch this family throughout the day.

Those two babies are fortunate.  They are in the care of a woman who loves them as deeply as I love my own 3 children.  She is their mother and she loves them unconditionally.

Mothering is by far the most rewarding and challenging “job” I have ever had.  My children need me to be present, to be with them and to love them.  They also know exactly how to push my buttons and encourage me to grow.  These three young people need me.  They need ME!   On days when I would rather stay in bed, I am up and taking care of them.  For me, this is all part of unconditional love and fulfilling the role of mother.  To sometimes put others’ needs before your own, even if it means pooping with three sets of eyes watching you.

Mamas, we are all in this together!  If we see a fellow mama struggling with a tantrum-ing child, instead of secretly judging her, help her out.  We have all been there.  Mothering is not intended to be done in isolation. We all know children have boundless energy and curiosity and a need to be seen.  Grandmas, sisters, aunts, cousins, friends……Let us be the village that we long for.  Let’s love each other.

Love is a promise, love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear. –John Lennon