by Erica Rodefer Winters
It’s hard to believe that this time last year, my little girl was only two weeks old. I was in the middle of one of those exhausting nighttime feedings when we both fell asleep on the couch, my sweet newborn snuggled up on my chest–a big no-no according to all the books and websites that make new moms like me question their intuition and worry about every little thing.
I must have been dreaming because at 4am, something startled me. I woke up disoriented and I felt something roll off of me. In that moment I forgot that I had a tiny person sleeping on me, and it was my reflexes alone that caused me to grab my tiny bundle, before her tiny body hit the hardwood floor below.
I shook myself awake, suddenly aware of what had just happened. I was sure that a fall, while only a foot or so, would have left my precious little one brain damaged forever and it would have been all my fault. On my first Mother’s Day, just a few hours into it, I had nearly broken my new baby. Great job, Mom. I cried as quietly as I possibly could so I wouldn’t wake her up. That’s right. As panicked and upset as I was about the whole incident, my baby slept right through it.
Everyone tells pregnant women that practicing yoga will help their bodies prepare for labor, schlepping carseats (why are they so heavy?) and holding babies for hours on end. It’s all true. But as helpful as it was to prepare my body, what yoga really helped me to do in this last year was learn to cope with the many moments of panic when I felt like I had NO CLUE what I was doing, which is pretty much all the time.
All those times when my muscles were screaming at me to bail out of Warrior 2 were practice for the times when I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it through one more sleepless night. (I always make it through Warrior 2–I got this!) When I felt that someone must have really messed up to put a helpless baby into my care, I remembered that at one time I had no idea how to take care of myself either–but I learned how to pay attention to my body’s cues and calm my mind. Eventually, I’d learn how to calm a crying baby, too.
Yoga taught me that there’s no shame in resting when you’re exhausted (Child’s pose took on a whole new meaning after I became a mom). It taught me to forgive myself and get back up when I fall (or, in this case, when my baby falls). Panicking doesn’t help when you feel uncomfortable in Pigeon pose, and it definitely doesn’t help when people are giving you the stink eye as they wait for your parking space because it takes you FOREVER to clumsily put your baby, stroller and all the rest of the gear back into your car after a short walk at the park.
When I’m in awe at all the mothers out there that make it all look so effortless, I remind myself that they were once beginners, too, and that comparing their journey to mine is as silly and useless as comparing our backbends.
Erica Rodefer Winters is a writer, yoga teacher, and the mother living in Charleston, SC. You can find more of her writing at YogaJournal.com
where she’s a contributing online editor, and her own blog, SpoiledYogi.com.
This post is part of a 4-part Mother’s Day series “You know you’re a yoga mom when…” Read the other posts:
Tales of a Bendy Mama: Life On and Off the Mat as a Yoga Teaching Mutha by Sarah Wells Kohl
Toddler Dog by Toni Nagy