It is October in Northern Spain. The nights are rapidly becoming longer, cutting into the evenings, and threatening to continue until 9am when we take our children to school. This dramatic darkening is encouraging me to slow down. I have spent much of my adult life focused on to-do lists, being productive, and contributing to society in some way. I have to remind myself that I am creating a different pace of life for myself this year.
Here, shops close from 2-5pm every day, and everyone enjoys meeting in cafes to chat with friends. I never see anyone eating fast food as they rush from one thing to the next; meals are a relaxed, sit-down affair. The only things people eat in the street are ice cream cones. There is a preservation of sanity in these elements of life…moments throughout the day to slow down and connect.
I have just started reading a book called The Exquisite Risk: Daring to Live An Authentic Life by Mark Nepo. This quote has helped me to shift my perspective from stress to being present:
“In the same way that watching the surface of the water can be mesmerizing and yet it does not reveal what waits below, the busyness and drama of the world can keep us from going below the surface of the very moments that are ours to enter. In my life, I have known truth and beauty and peace to be ever-present companions that I often sit beside, bemoaning their absence.”
When I first became a mama in January 2007, I gave myself permission to slow down and be present. It was one of the happiest times of my life. My son and I figured out our schedule together and the simple tasks of life filled much of the day – cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, napping, bathing. It was such a gift to not have a to-do list (and I am eternally grateful to my husband for supporting our family financially during that time). I am trying to channel that period of my life now, sinking below the surface of moments to truly enter them, and I find that life is pretty satisfying.
Most new mamas in the US today are focused on getting back to life as it was before baby, full of productivity and energy thrust outward. “Look how much I am able to accomplish” we used to say to the world. But now, now that you have a small human being that you grew in your body and are nourishing with your breastmilk, can you turn away from the to-do list and look inside? Can you see the truth, beauty, and peace that are there for you?
Postpartum presents an exquisite opportunity for deep nourishment and deep connection. Whether you are currently in the postpartum phase, or in a place of shifting/redesigning your life, you have this opportunity. The more we, as mamas, can allow ourselves to sink beneath the surface of the water to claim the moments that are ours to enter, the more we can live a life that is sustainable….and peaceful.