The Big Stretch of Motherhood
Motherhood is all about stretching. Stretching your body, your heart, your patience, your understanding, your compassion, your boundaries, and your capabilities. Spiritual stretching is much like stretching cold muscles, it hurts sometimes. There are days where you feel sore and tired. Thankfully, there are also days where you feel elongated and open because you are meant to expand.
When I was about 1 year post-partum, I called a dear sister friend to honestly and vulnerably speak about my experience in motherhood. I was terrified because it was the first time I admitted that motherhood wasn't what I expected and I was hard-core suffering with post-partum depression and anxiety. I was having disturbing and distressing intrusive thoughts that created such a shame spiral that feelings of happiness and joy were just a distant memory. Thankfully, she held space for me without judgement or sympathy. Rather, she opened her heart to hear my experience and said so poignantly, "Mama you are growing, and growing is sometimes painful. Allow for the stetching." All the shame and hurt fell away and I was able to see, for the first time, that my peril was a growth experience, not a punishment or that I was a bad mom.
Since then, I see the gift of pain. Instead of suffering by telling myself how horrible I am, I embrace the pain. Recently, I stopped nursing my baby. At first, I didn't seem to be too emotionally impacted by the change. However, after a week or so of not nursing, the crash of emotions came tumbling down. I was struck with sadness and grief from the realization that I will never nurse again because this is my last baby. I will never feel life growing inside my body, I will never feel the power of childbirth, I will never have another post-partum time at home, and the "baby" stage of my life is almost over. This is another opportunity for stretching. I can choose to let this negatively consume me and make it mean all sorts of things that are untrue, or I can decide to allow and to recieve the gift of grief.
The gift of grief is stretching me know how much I love and how much I am invested in motherhood. The love is what stretches you mamas, not shame or guilt. Allowing for love to stretch you will create more openness and space to be present, to be fully engaged, to untie suffering from pain.
Taking ownership of your experience, whatever it is, is the first step in the direction of separating suffering from pain. If you are denying any part of yourself or your experience, you cause resistance and resistance causes suffering. Fully embracing the light of your situation, as well as the dark will allow for full healing. I refused to claim my human darkness for a long time. I did not want to be the mom that didn't love parenting all the time or the mom that felt sad or anxious....but I was. Claiming that fully broke the chains of resistance, and I was able to let go of the shame.
Shame is the golden handcuffs of suffering. Since shame feels awful, we naturally look away from it so we are protected and feel better. However, shame is also what keeps us stuck until we look at it. Shame, until we hold it, work through it, and let it go, will keep a hook in your heart and disconnect you from experiencing the deep love and joy you deserve. Not hiding and reaching out to people that support you unhooks shame and allows for the stretching you are naturally privy to.
Look in your heart mama. Where are you suffering? Where can you shift shame into love? How can you allow for the big stretch?