I recently talked to a new mom. She was having her baby blues moments and felt a bit lost. She said she felt she had lost herself – the woman she had been for three decades of her life was now gone- she was a mother. Her identity as her old self she felt was gone.
As she talked she also was mourning the time she once had with her husband as a couple… just the two of them. She felt she missed him so much. He had gone back to work and she was taking care of the baby on her own now during the day.
I remembered something I had read by Thich Nhat Hanh where he shared about a father who at one time felt he had to divide or compartmentalize his life into his time, his time with his wife, his time with each child. And somehow he never had enough of his time. How often do I hear parents say this? But this father went on to share with the monk that indeed he had more time now since he no longer separated himself out of the time he spent with others. He felt it was his time when he spent time with his son– not his son’s time. He felt it was his time when he spent time with his wife- not just her time.
I shared with this new mom the thought of metamorphosis. We can still see the caterpillar when we look closely at the butterfly. She is not gone at all- only changed. She is still present in the butterfly… only made more beautiful now.
If we look at motherhood as a loss of our maidenhood and our couple status now changed to one of family loosing the couple we have failed to see the beauty of metamorphosis in our lives. Change is not something to be afraid of- it is something to be embraced.
I am an “empty nester” now- but still a mother- and now morphed into a grandmother as well. My relationship with my husband has changed once more as our roll as parents have changed. It is one more passage on our journey of life.
I encouraged this mom to consider a water color picture… one where the colors blend one into the other. Instead of seeing our lives as static colors not merging into one another- when we blend the colors as they meet, it makes a beautiful flowing picture.
The emblem of the butterfly has always meant something really special to me. Our company logo is a metamorphosing warrior woman. Not a loss of the maiden- but the new birth as a mother. Nothing loss at all- only changed to be made more beautiful.
I wanted to share some quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh that I think convey this message as well.
“Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.”
So when I read this I think we can not dwell on what has been lost at all- we must move ahead in order to embrace life- but we need to be still and feel where we are right now- in the present to fully feel alive. As parents we are usually in such a hurry to get our children into the next stage of life that we don’t fully appreciate where we are right now in their lives. We need to be still and present where we are- knowing it will not last forever- but will be changing quickly enough.
“Everyday we do things, we are things that have to do with peace. If we are aware of our life…, our way of looking at things, we will know how to make peace right in the moment, we are alive.”
As new mothers we are also competitive.. “is your child sleeping through the night yet?” “does johnny have a tooth yet?” “is sally eating solids yet…” You get my drift? We need to be at peace with where we are and our children are- one day at a time. Peace comes with acceptance. Not being compliant about the things you hope for and want to change- but acceptance of where you are now so you can begin to live and make the changes you desire.
“We cannot enjoy life if we spend a lot of time worrying about what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow . We worry about tomorrow because we are afraid. If we are afraid all the time, we cannot appreciate that we are alive and can be happy now.”
I love what the bible says, Matthew 6:34, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
As new parents we are full of worry. We worry about the kind of parents we will become. We worry about our children’s future. We worry about their health and ours. We worry about our finances and providing for our children. But if you look back on your life- notice the things that brought you happiness and joy. Worry was not part of that. Living is what brought happiness.
“The beginning of wisdom is wonder, and the spark of wonder is kindled in the person who sees the world as new.”
As new parents if we embrace the newness with wonder instead of fear and anxiety, we will see some things about ourselves and our children that would have been missed otherwise. Looking back we notice how we managed to get through events that made us afraid before doing them. Embrace newness of events with this wonder that the monk refers to here and you may find an excitement you failed to see before.
“Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand-new hours to live.What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.”
Yes as a new parent morning may come sooner than you wanted with little sleep from the night before… but I love the way God brings the darkness at night and the sun in the morning as a way to remind us it is new day- a new time to start over- to move forward on a new journey.
Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We don’t have to travel far away to enjoy the blue sky. We don’t have to leave our city or even our neighborhood to enjoy the eyes of a beautiful child. Even the air we breathe can be a source of joy.”
So hold your baby in your arms- sniff that beautiful baby smell into your nostrils. Realize it is a new day, a new journey, a new experience… and live!
“We can smile, breathe, walk, and eat our meals in a way that allows us to be in touch with the abundance of happiness that is available. We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive. Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.”