Postnatal depression was the greatest gift I ever received. I had been living a life that was totally out of alignment with who I was. The self-reflection required to come out of it brought me wisdom and peace that I would have never obtained had I not become a mother.
Here are five things I wish that every mother knew:
1. Your children become who you are, not what you tell them to be.
Have you ever seen how children are always interested in what we're doing? Every time I get into something new, my daughter is totally into it. When I was learning about Hindu goddesses, my daughter was discovering her favorite one. (Durga, it seems!) Every time I do a new yoga posture, my son stands around and fixes my alignment. (This can be scary in balancing postures!)
They want to be just like me. So, if I want them to be happy and healthy little people, I need to model that behavior for them.
2. Your children do not belong to you; they have their own journey.
The great poet Kahlil Gibran says about children: “They come through you but not from you.” When we allow our children to have their own journeys, we become so much happier as mothers. This requires a degree of trust in them. We have to trust that their inner wisdom is just as strong as our own inner wisdom.
Ultimately, we cannot choose their future for them. The sooner they develop their intuition muscle, the better. They'll make better choices for themselves, just the way that we have.
3. Self-care is not selfish.
We've all heard the flight attendant telling us to put the oxygen mask on first, in case of an emergency. So, why is it so hard to take care of ourselves when we have children? It's because our instinct is to protect them. On a primal level, protection means preventing predators from invading the cave.
Survival of the species requires that the fit stay alive, so we will instinctively sacrifice ourselves to keep the younger ones of the species alive. The thing is, if you're reading this, a bear in a cave is probably not threatening you.
If our children become who we are, it makes sense that they will put themselves at the bottom of the pile — if that's what we do. Which doesn't make for a life in which they can thrive. It makes for a life that is second best.
If you want your children to be healthy and vibrant, show them how to do it.
4. Your children have great wisdom to offer.
Why do we do things like yoga and meditation? Because we want to become free of resistance and be happy like children are. Children are so full of life and energy. They just want to have fun. We all wish to have the freedom that they have.
Perhaps they have something to teach us?
I learned more about living in the moment from walks in nature with my toddlers than I have learned from any spiritual book.
5. Children do not need to be taught yoga and meditation.
A child cannot learn meditation or yoga when it is not practiced in their home. Children are natural yogis. If we want them to stay in the alignment that yoga and meditation naturally provides, we need to be practicing it ourselves.
Otherwise, we're putting the cart before the horse.
Being a mother does not have to be hard. It can be the greatest tool for self-discovery and peace we will ever have. I know that it has been for me. Would you agree?