How yoga has influenced the way I parent
I spent 4 years trying to fall pregnant.
After 3 miscarriages and 2 IVF’s, we decided to adopt and were blessed with a little boy. J was 15 months old when he joined our family and it was a massive adjustment for him and a massive adjustment for us. To say the first few years were rocky would be a monumental understatement. All three of us went through physical and emotional changes and we all took it out on each other.
As I became all consumed with an instant toddler running around, having tantrums and trying to find himself. I had to become accustomed to another toddler running around, having tantrums and trying to find herself. Me.
I found the sleep deprivation impossible to deal with. Most toddlers are sleeping through the night and running around all day. Most infants are keeping mum and dad up at night but during the day they’re mostly immobile. Humans were created to be this way with a purpose in mind. J wasn’t sleeping at night (understandable considering the trauma of placement in a strange home at that age) and he was like a whirlwind during the day and that meant Hubby and I were exhausted.
There was no time for anything. Especially yoga. I would rush out and teach my 3 classes a week, racing back home to my toddler and I’m ashamed to say that I became a Momster and it was not pretty. This little being who needed to be loved and accepted for where he was in his life brought out my shadow, my dark side and although my circumstances are not typical, other mom’s I’ve spoken to have had similar experiences with their own biological offspring. Becoming a parent forces you to face your demons and to see yourself in your totality, not just the bits you like to share.
I spent a good few years battling the Momster until I realised that I needed a time out. My cup was empty. I had nothing more to give. I decided to do a weekend workshop on yoga for kids. Selling it to my family (because I thought I needed to – only I didn’t) that it would be beneficial to all of us to bring more yoga into J’s life. That weekend I realised that my soul was begging me to re-start my own practice, I had time and space to listen and really hear the message from me to me.
I began my own practice. Properly. Taking time each day for my yoga, not just teaching but actually doing, for me. It wasn’t an overnight change but slowly I began to see less and less of the Momster and more of me. The Momster began to identify the triggers because she was listening to herself and she began to reign herself in. I began to use the practices that I teach in class, finding my centre, acceptance, gratitude and compassion and slowly we all began to feel the change.
I still turn into the Momster some days, but now I’m a little kinder to myself afterwards. I remember that I am human and I am not perfect. I forgive myself for being the Momster, I take a deep breath and go and find J, I sit with him and I explain that my behaviour was unacceptable and I apologise to him. We move forward.
I hope that I am teaching him how to deal with his feelings in a healthy and respectful way, because they are real and should not be buried. I hope that he sees and feels my growth. I know that he knows how important my practice is and often he will join me during my practice and sit on the mat alongside me (sometimes he’ll even go back to sleep since its usually around 5am, right there next to me). If I’m meditating he knows not to talk to me and he will colour in or do something quietly nearby and I hope that I am teaching him to respect my time and in turn realise that he too is entitled to time for himself.
Everyday I make mistakes and I wish I could turn back the clock and put the Momster in a box but I have realised that she is part of me. A part of me that I don’t always like but she’s there and now, when she escapes, I try not to let her take over. I try and understand her needs, deal with them and then I put her away, make amends and move on.
Yoga has given me permission to embrace my shadow, to accept who I am in all my beauty and all my ugly, in my calm and in my storm. It has also taught me to accept my child for who he is and to allow him to be himself without prejudice and without judgement.