Dear mama guilt: you’re a f*cking b!tch!

I find the story of Prince Siddhartha wildly inspiring.

Especially the part when, at 29, he left his family of origin for 7 years- renouncing a life of ease and privilege, in search of spiritual liberation.

The tiny part of the tale that history seems to forget is that he left his wife and newborn son behind.

When he came back from ‘meditating-under-the-tree,’ he met his 7-year old child.

No biggie. Whatevs.

He was subsequently named “the Buddha,” “the enlightened one.”

*****

APRIL 14th, 2018 on the Narita Express

I was a puddle of tears and snot this morning when my husband kindly dropped me off at the train station this morning.

I felt terrible thinking ‘how much of a selfish, deserting as$hole am I to be off to do a 200-hour yoga teacher training and leave my 2yr and 5yr olds behind?

Who made me cry?

Not my husband — he is super supportive and reminded me that this has been my dream for close to 20 years

Not my kids — they are excited about spending time with dad, Omamma, Saint helper Norma, Happy Meal toys and their iPads

Not my parents — they live on the other side of the world and don’t even know I’m going

Not my friends or clients — they are always encouraging and say that I inspire them to take more time for themselves.

So, who is it?

Dear mama guilt: you’re a f*cking b!tch!

You seem to be forgetting the time and energy expended on having had 2 kids in the past 6 years:

+ 18 months of pregnancy — no massages, no cheese, no wine, bad sleep, bleeding gums, water retention, gestational diabetes…

+ 2 x major surgeries — 3 levels of body tissue severed, little feet kicking the scars, meridian pathways in the middle of the body blown to pieces…

+ 28 months of breastfeeding — no sleep, mastitis, feeling like a hunchback, waking up with baby vomit in hair, never finishing a thought, a conversation, or a warm meal…

+ 85 months of catering to the never ending daily needs of:
- 6 kilos of groceries to buy, carry, and put away
- 3 nutritious meals to prepare, carefully cut up, and serve (only to find it all on the floor)
- 1 dishwasher to unload before loading it with double its capacity
- 2 heavy trash bags to take out
- 40 nails to cut
- 28 teeth to brush
- 4 ears to clean
- 6 diapers to change
- 4 outfits to put on
- 2 heads to brush while they are doing jumping jacks
- 2 seatbelts to click
- 31 items of laundry to hang and leave out in the rain
- 2 story time books to read
- 1 sticky floor to wash
- 1 bath to draw
- a minimum of 4 big arguments to have over the tiniest of shit
- 4 apologetic hugs to give
- industrial mess of toys to put away
- 1 peed bed to change
- catching whatever sicknesses going around school (for the record hand foot and mouth disease as an adult sucks)
- countless hair dresser/vaccinations/dentist appointments/extracurricular activities to book and remember to show up for (on time and preferably dressed) …

That’s a total of 131 months of my life solely dedicated to my kids’ upbringing.

Dear mama guilt, I’m not asking for a medal.

I’m just asking for a little ‘me’ time to recharge.

+ A little time to get to know myself again and to work towards something I’ve always wanted to do

+ A couple of days to pause and catch my breath

+ A couple of hours to reacquaint myself with my body again

+ A couple of minutes to shed some weight of responsibility off my shoulders

+ A couple of seconds to seek spiritual liberation

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One month in exchange for 131 months doesn’t sounds like a fair trade? No?

Well, I respectfully don’t give a sh*t what you think.

I know deep down that I’m creating a space to nourish my soul so that I can show up in the world as the radiant woman my husband fell in love with.

Yes, mama guilt, now is my time. Not yours.

Get the f*ck out of my path to becoming perhaps not “an enlightened one,” but at least “a lightened one.”

******

Carmela Fleury is a certified lifecoach, a yin yoga teacher and the village crazy mama. She has a soft spot for working with mothers of young children and currently leads “Raising Happy & Healthy mamas” retreats worldwide. 

The Mamafesto

You may copy or use any of this content. This was gathered from information I’m pretty sure I misunderstood in the first place and misinterpreted from a gazillion different teachers. So feel free to misinterpret this to your little heart’s desire.

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This mamafesto is intended to infuse you with hope and joy especially on rainy, sleep- deprived, tantrum-filled days.

 It’s a permission slip to give yourself some extreme self-tender-loving-care (even if it’s only 5 minutes on the Lego-covered bathroom floor) so you can then give love to others on a full(er) tank.

You know you are more efficient and inspiring when you radiate fulfillment rather than walk around like a human sacrifice.

Some days will be easier than others.

So don’t worry. Don’t stop.  And keep going regardless of results, setbacks, kids vomit on shoes, praise, toddler hugs, or criticism. 
 


MAMAFESTO: THE TOP 10 SECRETS TO RAISING A HAPPY & HEALTHY MAMA

 You have little ‘you time’ in the day, so let’s get straight to the point:

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1. SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES AROUND “YOUR TIME”

“I have no time”

“Shut up, yes you do!” There I said it.

You have the same 24 hours a day as everybody else.

Saying you don’t have time for yourself is like driving a car and saying that you don’t have time to stop for gas. At some point, your life will make you break down.

Regularly refilling your tank with activities that deeply satisfy you =  fresh energy reserves to work from.

Trade with other mamas/ hire an army of sitters/ barter with university students/ ask the neighbor’s grandmother/ the restaurants’ donkey/ any warm body will do.

They may not do things as perfectly as you do but research shows that exposure to different caretakers makes children more resilient and able to interact with people as they grow up. And someone may even teach them something you can’t, such as napkin origami.

So ask around, book it in the calendar and have an emergency back up plan.  This is NON-NEGOTIABLE.

Now go do what you need to do for yourself. Not sure what to do anymore?

Start by taking a slow, long, and deep breath right now… and exhaaaaaaale.

 

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2.  BREATHING

It’s an easy one to forget even though it’s right under your nose, literally.

But I bet you anything that you will breathe deeper when you are reminded to.

From your very first breath at birth until your last dying breath, breath is your faithfully metronomic companion necessary for survival.

However the conscious mastery of breath is the secret to thriving and claiming back the years lost to sleep deprivation.

When you increase your lung capacity your heart pumps more oxygen throughout the body, and everything functions better.  You get to do stupid things with much more energy.

It is the easiest, fastest, and limitless way of repeatedly giving your body a chance to heal and realign everything.

So I give you full permission to wear comfortable bras and to set your skinny jeans on fire.

THE MORE YOU BREATHE, THE MORE YOU LIVE.

Close your eyes for a moment, and enjoy a longer and slower breath right now…

 

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3.   THOUGHTS- LET’S GET MENTAL  

You will forget to breathe as soon as your thoughts take over. Like ‘crap, what’s for lunch?’

Thoughts trigger emotions. Emotions are reflected in your actions. And the way your kids and grandkids will remember you, will be a reflection of your thoughts.

So pick your thoughts carefully. And clean away the ones that don’t serve you, daily.

Consider it preventive maintenance work just like you brush teeth and wipe your kitchen table clean.

The best way to wipe your thoughts clean is to meditate or silently repeat a mantra (or ‘mamantra’) in your head, for example “at least I don’t have quadruplets, as least I don’t have quadruplets, at least I don’t have quadruplets.”

My advice to you is to train by sitting and practicing in the heart of a messy home with overtired kids loaded up on sugar pulling at your hair. If you manage then- when you finally get a quiet moment to yourself- it will feel VERY easy.

And when your mind starts taking you away, again, to the next meal, come back to your breath, always. Fondue.

Enjoy a longer inhale and a slower exhale right now…

 

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4. LET’S GET PHYSICAL

The way you treat your body reflects your mental state. Read that again.

Whether you are a trained Olympic gold medalist or a professional iPhone thumb dancer on your couch, if you want to be fit your whole life, I invite you to always go to your physical feel-good edge. No self-torture, no suffering, no denial, or white knuckling grunting.  Nope.

Instead anything that oxygenates you. That helps you step back into your body. And is sustainable over a lifetime.

For I assure you that when you are in a relaxed state of mind (breathing fully) your body will function at its fullest capacity and your brain can then enter ... drumroll please… ‘feel-good thoughts’ space.

So play at your physical edge without overwhelming the system. How do you know? Follow your breath as a barometer for how your body is feeling.

Release any physical tension with your exhale right now.

 

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5.  A LITTLE MAGIC DUST

The ‘feel-good thoughts’ space is where all the magic happens. I repeat. The ‘feel-good thoughts’ space is where all the magic happens.

I don’t care if you are an atheist with a rectified right brain holding a Masters in Advanced Engineering, a PhD in Scientific Law, and a Doctorate degree in Evolutionary Biology. Start grabbing the woo-woo by the horns. Yesterday.

Believe in something outside yourself. The Universe. Consciousness. Energy. God. Massages. Christ. Christa. Goddesses. Fairies. Unicorns. Horoscope. Tarot cards. Crystal balls. Astrology. Divinity. Mythology. Mother Nature. Father Christmas. Ladybugs. Dumplings.

Start believing in magic and miracles. I promise life becomes less painful and heavy when you start trusting a higher benevolent force outside of yourself. You start realizing that you don’t need to control everything. You start to soften, trust and surrender.

Enjoy a longer and slower breath right now.

 

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6. NURTURING SISTERHOOD (IN NATURE)-

Throughout history, women have followed the lunar calendar and instinctually taken refuge in the woods away from society to support each other emotionally, spiritually and physically.

When was the last time you took a trip with friends, or even by yourself?

I’d like to invite you to consider what you’d do with a couple of hours/1 night/a weekend/a week if you gave yourself the same amount of energy you give your kids all year long.

If bathing in the forest and running naked into the moonlight is not available to you right now, simply look up at the sky and picture your next solo moment and …

… take a deep breath in and loud exhale out…

 

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7. $$$

I don’t care if you are the heiress of L’Oreal, married to Ellen DeGeneres or if you are working 3 full time jobs. Never ever stop monetizing your skills. The world needs them.

The healthiest relationship to money is making it and spending it. Period.

If being a stay at home mom is your calling. Eee-i-men, sista! But please do the math of how much you would pay a helper per hour and set up a contract with yourself to get paid for it. And spend that money the way you would if you had earned it working outside the home.

No matter how small, always nurture that private secret garden of $$$ for yourself. There is a freeing pleasure that comes from spending money that you have earned without needing approval or permission. Put mama guilt on a time-out and treat yourself.

In. Out.

 

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8. OTHER MAMAS-

We mamas are social beings, programmed to fit in for survival. We have been conditioned by our environment and ultimately we are a product of each other.

Take charge of your energetic health. Begin to notice what, where and who depletes your energy and conversely what, where and who enlivens your spirit.  That knowledge is worth gold.

The Buddha's last words were, "Make of yourself a light." Light yourself up from the inside and follow your instincts so you can enlighten the mamas around you to do the same. 

Deep inhale. Deep exhale.

 

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9. NOTHING-

This is by far the hardest one.

 The do nothing. The just be. Under effort. Choose ease. And be ok with it.  

Notice the automatic breath that happens all on its own. Magic. Dumplings.

  

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10.  RED WINE-

And if everything fails, I’ll quote my favorite life coach Anna Kunnecke, “Red wine has antioxidants. You're welcome.”