For the past several years, I have been living in a reactive state. As a stay-at-home mama to three little dudes, I have been the main target for my childrens’ every need, want, and whim. “Mama, mama, mama!” I snap awake for the pitter patter of footsteps down the hall, anticipating my son’s night terror. “Mama, mama, mama!” I heave the clean laundry onto the bed as our newly potty-trained son yells from the bathroom, “I’m done!” “Mama, mama, mama!” I stop chopping the onions for dinner to intervene as the two-year-old tries to stomp on big brother’s just-put together puzzle.
Like a bug erratically flitting toward a light source, my attention is constantly beckoned and uprooted from the present moment to the newly unfolding present moment. As a result, I feel myself buzzing through my day, my brain pinging and ponging from one task to the next. A new mom friend donned a “Chaos Coordinator” t-shirt the other day, and all I could do was air high-five her in solidarity. Because, isn’t that what it feels like as a mom, let alone a mom during a global pandemic – the manager of all the feelings, all the noise, and all the unpredictability of life?
Even with an amazing, support team – including an extremely involved husband, and my right-hand gal – my mom (I couldn’t do it without her!), I often feel a vibrational energy coursing through my body, clouding my mind, and leaving me drained. Maybe I anticipate too much, maybe I idealize too much, maybe I set ambitions and intentions that are too lofty or unrealistic. Or maybe, my lenses are just too fogged up to see clearly (and not just because of the mask)!
In yoga, there’s a concept called avidya, which translates to “incorrect comprehension.” Avidya is the root cause of obstacles preventing us from recognizing things as they really are. For example, things like our ego, attachment, refusal, and fear – all of which cloud our perception and alter our reality. Maybe we replay negative self-talk (“I’m not a good mom” or “I’m not good enough”) or we’ve become attached to a version of ourself (“I’m a dowdy stay-at-home mom” or “I’m a type-A, multi-tasker”). Or maybe, we judge others and their choices (“Oh my gosh, can you believe she sent her kid back to school during the height of the pandemic?”) or we’re an energy zapper (“And then Tom said this, and I said this,” insert word vomit, negativity, and drama, drama, drama, and never ask your poor friend how her day has been).
Maybe you don’t find truth in any of these statements, but maybe you do. Whatever the answer, just take a minute to reflect. No one is saying you’re a bad person, and no one is saying you have to change. However, if you find yourself perpetually repeating the same patterns (and you’re not happy with the outcome), then it might be worth taking some time for self-reflection. My avidya manifested as feeling trapped. I was working so hard to be the best mom, wife, friend, etc., and yet, I didn’t feel at peace with how my life was unfolding. Soon, the sneaky ooze of bitterness started seeping into my pores, situating itself in the dark depths, bubbling up and exploding when someone said something or did something that made me feel judged, attacked, or blamed. I yelled at my kids for the most ridiculous things, snapped at my husband for any wayward comment, and got into petty arguments with my family over issues that were once resolved. I felt tired, I felt stuck, and I felt like I was on a merry-go-round, slowly becoming a person I wasn’t thrilled to be.
As a modern mama, we are often praised for “doing it all,” but at what cost? Micromanaging, multi-tasking, and maneuvering through our days as if our lives’ depended on it doesn’t lead to becoming super woman — it leads to super burnout. I’ve lived a lot of my days reacting from a place that wasn’t necessarily rooted in reality. The early days of motherhood are so all-consuming, so bone-achingly tiring, and oh-so fragile, that I started believing that I didn’t have a choice in any of it. I didn’t choose to stay up all night breastfeeding, therefore, I didn’t choose to yell at my toddler because he hit his brother – it happened because A caused B. Tiredness caused crankiness. Which, to be fair, is valid. But, it’s also a reality I started constructing for myself that didn’t serve me or my family. It robbed me of my power. It left me feeling helpless and lost.
Sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes it’s really hard, but I’m learning along the way. I cannot change reality – and I accept that. I am an imperfect human – and I accept that. But as the clouds start clearing, I know I always have a choice. And, once you know, you cannot unknow it. So, the next time you get riled up, I challenge you to stop, take a breath, and consciously move from a place of right action rather than reaction. Embrace your power – it’s your choice, mama.
You Got This,