“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” Sufi saying
To the mamas making your own decisions, deciding what is best for you and for your baby, and refusing to apologize for the choices you know are right in your heart- you’re amazing.
I have seen so much beauty in the community of mamas that surround me, both online and off. I’ve also seen judgement from the outside. The world is always telling us we’re not good enough, that we’re not doing the right thing. But we are.
In France they say, “There’s no such thing as the perfect mother,” and this I know to be true. Because perfect is boring. Perfect doesn’t exist. We do our best and we love each other along the way.
If you know a mama (experienced, new, or soon-to-be) try offering her these graces.
1. Offer permission, not advice. Tell that mama how much you love her and give her permission to miss texts and calls and girl’s nights because she is doing her very best. Keep your advice to yourself unless she explicitly asks for it.
2. Do not comment on mama’s body. I’ve always found it strange that saying, “YOU’RE SO TINY!” to another person is thought to be a compliment. All of us have different and beautiful bodies. Yes I am healthy but that doesn’t mean you get to comment on the physical vessel that holds my brain, my soul. You would not yell, “You’re so big!” at a mama so keep your comments about bumps and bodies (before and after birth) to yourself.
Yes, you can keep telling mamas they look beautiful, that one is okay. Even better? Tell them they are strong and wise. Tell them you can’t imagine what they’re going through but you think they’re killing it.
3. Offer a place to be real. If a mama is complaining, don’t assume she loves her little one any less. Don’t assume she hates being a mom. Just give her a place to be real and loved. If you ask a mama how she’s doing and she’s honest with you, empathize. Don’t just say, “But it’s such a beautiful time and such a gift!” We know it is, we also know our bodies and minds are tired.
Help ease minds and hearts. Offer respite from the rest of the world.
This cacti poster for baby’s room, the crisp cool fall weather, watching Kiley and Max roll in the wet morning grass, nesting, our cinnamon + spice soy candle, new to us baby furniture from people we love, imagining little one in Chase’s arms.
“Everything grows rounder and wider and weirder, and I sit here in the middle of it all and wonder who in the world you will turn out to be.” Carrie Fisher
I am now firmly planted in the second trimester (weeks 14-26 of pregnancy.) I have been hesitant to write about pregnancy. It’s something new and exciting- I’m certainly no expert.
But I’m not an expert on minimalism either. Nor am I an expert on veganism, feminism or anything else I write about. I simply write from my own exploration of the topic and my experience. And so many of you read my posts and raise your hand and say, “Me too! I understand you!”
And so, I will write about pregnancy. My pregnancy. Not as an expert, but as a person experiencing it right now. I will be as honest as authentic as I can be, and maybe some of you will say, “Me too.”
As I head into my third trimester I want to reflect on the first. Weeks seven through fourteen nearly killed me. I’m not trying to sound dramatic, I quite literally walked around feeling like I was going to die. I would wake up with nausea, getting so violently sick I was left crying on the bathroom floor. Each time I tried to wake, move, eat or drink I was sick again. I lost six pounds. I cursed the people that call it “morning sickness” when really it lasts the entire day (and night.) Looking back I have no idea how I got through each day at the office.
But I did. I did get through it. With the love and care of my fiance. With kisses from the puppies and knowing looks from the few people I had told. If you are currently in your first trimester experiencing this extreme sickness know that it will end. Even though you want to punch everyone that tells you that, I promise it will. You will think back on it as a distant memory as your baby continues to develop and grow.
The only bright spot during that extremely difficult time was the 12 week ultrasound. We got too see our baby on a big screen. With dim lights and Beatles’ music playing in the background. Baby did flips. He flipped and flopped and wiggled around. We cried and cried and I knew I had never been so happy in my whole life.
Other beautiful things that happened in the first trimester? We got engaged, we put the crib together, we picked a name, we found out our parenting styles are so beautifully complementary. I felt baby move. It feels like wings fluttering…it feels like magic.
My overarching philosophy during the first trimester? Pregnancy is the happiest reason ever for feeling like crap.
We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that pregnancy is, and that women are strong. To all the mamas reading this, I salute you. I love you and I honor you.
“Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.”Nhat Hanh
The sun is setting. I’ve just finished my prenatal yoga practice, I’m steeping my raspberry leaf tea and enjoying the company of my pets. Max licks his paws, Kiley snores and Tony explores.
I am savoring these moments. I am truly noticing my surroundings and letting them fill me up. We sometimes savor food or use the word savor to describe something delicious, but we can savor everyday moments too.
We are always rushing. To work, at work, coming home from work, making dinner, packing lunch, walking the dogs- rush rush rush.
I propose instead we begin to savor moments in our day. To savor is to slow down and to pay close attention. The next time you sit with a cup of tea notice its warmth, its steam, the way it warms your hands and your heart. When walking the dogs listen to the animals alive in the nature around you, look at the clouds and the sky, feel the wind.
We can practice savoring daily rituals and activities each day. Your morning shower, your breakfast, snuggling with a loved one- all chances to slow down and pay close attention to our lives.
What are my favorite times to savor? After I wake up and wipe the sleep from my eyes I make my cereal with fruit and coconut milk, I pour a glass of half juice and half water and I sit in our beautiful little chair by an open window. I breathe, listen to the morning birds, feel the morning air and savor each bite of my breakfast.
We are often unsatisfied and unsettled. As we are doing something we ask, “Am I doing the right something? The best something?” We watch a movie and feel discontent so we reach for our phones. We’re eating a delicious meal but don’t want to “waste time” so we put on a show. We’ve forgotten how to enjoy each moment. How to do a singular task and to be fully present in it.
When you savor, the anxiety of missing out melts away. You begin to notice how content you truly are.
Other cultures do this so naturally. The french treat meal time as sacred. They eat in courses which aids in digestion and allows one to notice the food in front of them. Americans, myself included, make a plate plop on the couch and don’t even taste or look at the food they’ve prepared. This leads to late night snacking and other unhealthy habits because we weren’t even fully present for the meal we just had!
So, how can we savor more and lessen our “something better” anxiety? Here are some ideas-
Take your meals at the table. Play music instead of Netflix. Here is my favorite playlist at the moment. Notice your food. Look at it, smell it, truly taste all of its intricacies. I promise this will become so enjoyable soon you won’t even think to grab your phone or laptop or sit in front of the TV. You will learn to savor.
Notice your movements, be present when you exercise. Whether you run each day, practice yoga or go on walks with your dog you move throughout the day. Begin to notice these times when your body moves. Thank your body for doing all that it does, we often forget how truly amazing our bodies are. I thank my hands daily for the amazing things they do. Fully notice your breathing, your feet touching the ground and your toes wiggling in your shoes- savor savor savor.
“As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise, you will miss most of your life.” Buddha