Guess what – I had a baby! She was born on Nov 11th (11/11 baby), and her name’s Maya – which we felt would go perfectly with her older sister’s name, Lila. She is such a sweet baby – calm, easygoing, and makes lots of cute sounds and faces 🙂
As you can imagine, life with the little one has been oh-so-tiring, but filled with lots of sweet moments. Seeing Lila care for her baby sis, having my mom and dad here to help us adjust to being new parents again, and navigating new complexities (with less sleep!) in our marriage has been so sweet, yet requiring new levels of patience and tolerance.
I’m reminded of the famous verse:
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonour others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
and always perseveres.
Love never fails.
Between multiple feeds and diaper changes at night, the erratic sleep patterns, recovering from my delivery, navigating breastfeeding, and trying to get a crying baby to feel better, I find myself at my wit’s end sometimes. By 8pm, I’m ready to throw in the towel! My other daughter, Lila, is 2 1/2, and sometimes cries for more attention. Laundry, cooking and cleaning piles up in the house.
There are so many times I want to snap – at Krishan, the kids – or just run away from it all (I know – it sounds extreme 🙂 I start getting resentful and angry at Krishan, or feel overwhelmed and guilty. Anxiety and panic rear their ugly heads. Sometimes grief shows up, reminding me of my lost freedom.
And yet, I get through it, and end up smiling, or at least being grateful for the opportunity of doing this again (as I turn 40 this month!) – with my best friend and beloved, Krishan.
Becoming a mom has taught me so many things about love:
1. Self love is the foundation of all love: Without caring for my body, my feelings, my mind and spirit, I wouldn’t be able to serve others and be present for my loved ones. I have to allow myself to feel my feelings, find moments to meditate, nourish my body through healthy foods, and be aware of when I become self-critical – and instead turn to self-forgiveness and self-compassion. I’m so glad that I built this foundation BEFORE I got married and had kids, but I recognize this always work in progress. I have created a whole team of supporters like my coach, doula and healers (and of course, my husband, parents, neighbors, community, and so many others).
2. Our emotions require caretaking: As mentioned above, suppressing one’s emotions is unhealthy. Rather, finding mindful ways of lovingly observing and allowing one’s feelings to pass through the body, and processing painful thoughts and narratives with the help of a specialist, is important. New transitions, such as death, birth and loss not only add trauma – but can bring up old traumas or beliefs that need healing, which show up in our emotional plane. Moreover, motherhood comes with its own feelings of resentment, overwhelm and guilt. All of this is outside of the postpartum phase, in which hormonal changes cause even more emotional turmoil (for instance, after having my first child, I faced depression and anxiety, along with the emotions mentioned above). As a mom, you need support from your loved ones, a supportive community and health professionals to help be with the emotional changes.
The good news is, when you are able to be with your emotions, your capacity to feel joy becomes amplified! You go from Rupture to Rapture.
3. Our body is a temple and needs our attention: Becoming a mom has reminded me that my body is such an intelligent, complex, beautiful being. Being able to birth and nurture a child is indeed, divine! I’ve learned to listen to her, rest as much as I need, get help in rejuvenating and restoring my body. I try to practice gratitude and love to my body every chance I get. After all, without her, nothing would be possible.
4. One’s partnership (and marriage) is the most important, in the family: Sometimes it’s easy to forget your partner, or take him for granted, once the kids arrive. And yet, without him, all of this wouldn’t have been created! It takes so much love and intention between a couple to create a life and household that’s healthy and nourishing for all. Harmony between the couple is paramount. Kids look to the love that parents have for each other, and derive their security and strength from this love.
Of course, parenting brings up all sorts of issues between a couple – all the things that can fall through the cracks before, now become apparent.
Before I became pregnant with #2, Krishan and I made a commitment to work with a couples’ coach to improve our marriage and communication. Over the last year, we’ve learned and discovered so much about ourselves and each other through this work. We’ve processed some old pain, found new levels of pleasure and feel like we’re romancing each other again 🙂 Our teamwork has become phenomenal – which I feel has been foundational for our marriage. Weekly date nights became our norm, but we’re now trying to navigate this as we’re now with baby #2.
5. Fulfillment is different from Happiness: Before, I used to think that happiness was my goal in life. However, after having kids, I’ve realized that while it’s not always possible to be ‘happy’ as one goes through life’s ups and downs, being able to love and serve others far surpasses my need to strive for my own happiness.
Service through relationships, and being in joyful, conscious relationships, has been so incredibly fulfilling for me.
Again and again, studies show that our relationships are the #1 contributing factor for one’s well being and mental health. Our happiness is dependent on relationships – with our selves and our loved ones.
I see marriage, and becoming a parent, a powerful way to consciously serve my loved ones, and grow as a better human being. Each day, I strive to be a better person – more kind, aware, authentic, patient, vulnerable, courageous… it takes practice, and yet that’s what relationships are for.
Dear one, what does love look like for you? What do you find fulfillment in? I would love to hear from you!
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So well said, Sarika! I love the nuance you distinguish between happiness and fulfillment. I have never thought of it that way before but your totally right! I can be annoyed in a moment (ie not happy) and at the same time deeply fulfilled by my life. I also love from Rupture to Rapture! Thank you!!