Being a mom comes with many challenges, of course, and many are difficult to understand until you actually find yourself in that situation: the toll a chronic lack of sleep takes on your body, how hard breastfeeding can be, how invested you could possibly become in another person’s well being, choosing where to live based on schools...The list goes on. One thing that is topping my own list lately (okay, for the last 17 years, really) is space! When I hear “Space: the Final Frontier,” I think of empty-nesting, not Star Trek!
It starts in pregnancy feeling so physically squished. In the last trimester, so many moms wonder each day how they could possibly get any bigger- and then they do! Many literally have no space to breath efficiently. Moms await labor to get their bodies back, only to realize afterwards that the baby is still nearly as attached as actually being on the inside.
Then there’s the space in the home. I remember trading our king for the queen in my mother-in-law’s spare bedroom so we had enough room to attach a co-sleeper. It wasn’t long before the baby insisted she sleep in our bed and we traded back. It doesn’t matter how big of a bed- a tiny baby will manage to take up more space than two parents put together. I remember looking forward to the time each child would get old enough to move out of our room so we could have our space back. My room does feel a little more like my own compared to when they were babies, but nothing like before I had kids! The youngest still uses our bathroom at night because she claims it’s closer despite passing the other bathroom on her way. <insert eye roll> No matter how hard I try to keep things minimalist, the kids’ stuff takes up more and more of our home, and of course, they have no qualms about leaving a trail of junk wherever they go.
Nothing feels like “mine” anymore. The teenager is getting better about it, thankfully, but still occasionally “asks” to borrow something from my closet after she’s already walked away with it, assuming I’d say yes. (Bright side is I don’t feel quite so bad borrowing something from her closet! Lol!) The littlest one thinks everything in my office is fair game and I find all sorts of craft remains cluttering my desk, despite repeatedly reminding her my desk is off limits. And where the heck are my scissors!?
The worst for me is my own bodily space. I get so tired of being touched. Yet there is something sweet about a little person always wanting to hold your hand, hug you, be held. I try to focus on her sweet intentions and remind myself there will be a day when she is not here to love on me. In the meantime, though, it is pretty challenging to try to simply walk down the street with 60 lbs of another person pressed up against me. Getting some stuff done at my desk often means a certain someone is hanging out in “my trunk”- squeezing in between me and the back of my chair. Sometimes I can’t help but exclaim, “Can you. Just. Stop. Touching me for one minute!?”
All of this put together leads to a lack of mental/ emotional space. It’s always been a challenge for me to quiet the mind- my biggest focus in my personal yoga practice- and now there is just so much stuff to consider with raising a family. From the day to day stuff, like who needs to be where at what time (too many days lately with Maceo’s baseball game and Arya’s ballet class at the same time) to the heavy things like are we doing the right thing by encouraging Jeannessa to start her higher education at community college? My mind really needs a day off...
It’s no wonder that I have been focusing on spaciousness lately in my practice. In all of my classes, not just prenatal, we start with the physical body, noticing the places that feel crowded, and imagine breathing space into those areas. The body begins to soften. The deeper focus on breath surpasses the physical body to find space between thoughts. Finding this space between thoughts brings deeper meditation, deeper awareness. And when I find that, the crap all over my house suddenly seems to take up a lot less space.
Recently in class, I asked a full-term mom, “What one thing do you want to get done before the baby comes?” She expressed knowing how important space was to her and that she just wanted to find some time to herself, knowing it could be a long time before she finds her own space again. Then she added something along the lines of, “Maybe that sounds kind of mean.” On the contrary, Mama! Space comes in many different forms and it’s important to find the kind you need. It’s not always easy to find when you are a parent, but worth every effort.