Motherhood and Mobility; My Single Greatest Piece Of Advise I Can Give Any Mother To Be
Motherhood and Mobility
My Single Greatest Piece Of Advise I Can Give Any Mother To Be
There’s a ton of advise out there for mothers to be. When I was pregnant, just 5 months ago I was consuming this advise at a massive pace. One day reading about a mom who still feels trapped inside a new body and new life eleven months postpartum. The next day having my coffee while recapping the experiences of a happy-go-lucky woman who makes being a mother of four seem like a mental and physical breeze.
(Yes, I was having one coffee a day while breast feeding.)
Of course we all know that nothing in life is a breeze. On the other hand having a child, while not without it’s set of challenges should be a joyous time. As I learned quickly, thinking back over all of the advise I’ve read, my truth was always somewhere in the middle, and often much more individual and personal then I first considered. After all, challenges are not universal, some people deal with a new sleep schedule like champions, others may find multi-tasking with a baby on their hip a breeze. The reality is that something as life transforming as pregnancy and motherhood is as daunting as it is exciting and as magical as it is intimidating.
After I gave birth the things I read seemed to echo in different ways all throughout the fourth trimester. I’d think back to the mom that talked about watching countless sunrises as she fed her baby. I fed mine in darkness at 1am then 3am and 5am and reflected that it wasn’t as terrible and exhausting as she had described. In fact I recovered right back to a REM sleep of dreams the moment I put my baby in her crib. I’d look at loads of new laundry and think of what better things I could be doing with my time; from writing, to working out to playing with Ari, the laundry at first seemed impossible. A month later I was answering my inbox as I played with my daughter and swung a kettlebell in the laundry room. Basically you adapt, you reflect and you laugh at all the anxiety the unknown of mother inflicts on you. Wishing you can tell your old self to just sit back and relax a moment.
The thing about all of this retrospect is that you need to be pliable, mobile enough mind-body-spirit to shift any emotions you may have had and embrace a new way to go about challenges.
Before I continue I will give this story and my overall single greatest piece of advise to you some context;
I am not in my twenties. I had suffered a serious loss in my first pregnancy, then worked up the nerve to try again and had an incredible little baby. I am happily married in a wonderful relationship of 16 years. I am a business owner and my field is fitness. I also, just relocated my family from New York City to a suburb outside of my favorite city (I’ve never, ever lived in a suburb before- but now I own trees!). I worked out my entire pregnancy. I took ten weeks off postpartum to be with my baby and my inbox exclusively at home. I need sleep above all else to be a normal human. You get the picture.
One last things guys, as a new mother, wife, business owner and well, a woman who still has a ton of hopes, goals and dreams I learned to be malleable and it has been my greatest asset.
Malleable (what a great word!): to able to be hammered or pressed permanently out of shape without breaking or cracking.
In fitness mobility is described by most as the meeting point of strength and flexibility. Say that you can aid your leg into a stretch, then say you can load that leg with weight and lift with momentum. Well, then mobility is that place where you can take your leg on its own, maintaining the strength to hold it there in a specific range of motion.
Sounds complicated? It’s really as simple as identifying the range of motion you have in an area and then working deeper- in fitness and health our first mission is to keep a clients range of motion, then to expand on it. Maintaining and enhancing mobility above flexibility or strength.
Why the lesson in basic biomechanics? Well, truthfully, that’s the advise I have for you. Oddly enough, it’s the advise I have for you when you’re thinking about getting back into shape postpartum and when you think about how you will survive your new responsibilities, challenges, sleep and work schedule- all of it – with a new baby.
In past decades being rigid was a thing, it somehow underlined our values and highlighted our morals.
Rigid: unable to bend or be forced out of shape; not flexible.
In today’s ever evolving world there is nothing worse then being termed a rigid person. Instead we want to be flexible yet strong- like a bamboo stalk that will grow resiliently through anything but also move with fluidity in the most horrendous winds.
Sounds romantic I know, but the thing is, life can be romantic and fun and serious all at the same time. It’s simply a matter of mind-set.
It may be hard to encapsulate this concept when you are growing a tiny life inside you. You’re likely already building a big picture in your mind; one of how you want things to be, and two, how you will deal with the challenges everyone tells you about.
You’re also probably overwhelmed by the idea of registries, baby cribs, sleep training methods, breast feeding or formula advise and a million other things you ‘haven’t had a chance to get to yet’. After all, it’s not like we get a maternity leave four months out to prepare for baby.
But, if you take my advise now and begin to let go of some preconceived notions. Throw out the baby babble and take all advise as a reference to keep in your back pocket instead of a tattoo immortalized across your back, then you’ll begin to feel better. You will also teach yourself to adapt to a way of thinking and living that will help you make the decisions your family needs, letting go of standards and building your own standard of living, one that makes you and your family happy and fulfilled.
I know that no matter what I say, if you’re going into a second trimester, or days away from birth or just found the plus sign on that test you are as we speak formulating the outline. But I urge you, truly to stop yourself. To stop and enjoy the beautiful blank canvas in front of you. Realize that it will take time to detail the landscape, to get the colors just right, to outline the leaves and the sails and to allow everything to flow together in a way that compliments the world ahead.
So mobility huh?
Letting go of your big picture? Not having a plan? No visualization? You’re probably wondering what this means and if it’s worth thinking about. Isn’t being pregnant all about looking forward to a great new feature?
I had this Luis Vuitton coin purse designed by Murakami that my husband bought me ten years ago. I’ve never worn it and it’s been just sitting there in my closet. I love it, have a slight attachment, but it’s just there, sitting there, unused. After I had my baby I listed it on eBay and got a pretty significant bid. I knew I could hold out for now, wait for more money, keep it as a fixture in my closet, but something just told me that I needed to let it go.
That’s the thing- mobility is about being able to grit through and work hard and at the same time let go and move on.
Motherhood should not be about pain and endurance every step of the road, and it shouldn’t be about uninterrupted instagram portrayed bliss. It’s actually a combination. There are so many moments that are epic and incredible; special beyond anything you can ever imagine. There are moments of frustration too.
And as I have found it, if you want to enjoy these moments to the fullest and get through the new hardships without having them wear you down, you need to embrace mobility in your thought process. When I s I mean make it a religion, something so deeply a part of your process that you can apply it to everything and anything that comes your way.
Teach yourself and tell yourself that it’s completely okay to let go of things (ideals, morals, notions, methods) no matter how valuable they may seem. It doesn’t mean that they wont happen for you in the way you imagined, they very well may. But to survive and thrive in modern motherhood you must be able to adapt quickly, flipping your script and moving onward.
I always thought that I would breast feed. In fact I knew that I’d have one of those epic breast feeding at the gym pics floating around on my Instagram somewhere. I knew it was the way to do it, I knew I was ready for the challenge, I knew that it was best for baby. Three months in I was told I didn’t have enough supply and no matter what I did- pump, pump some more, I had to supplement with formula. This my friends was just one of the countless mutations I had to make peace with after baby. I anguished over the thought, hearing her cry for lack of milk I finally gave, and suddenly she became a much happier little girl. In retrospect there is no question that I did the right thing, but in the moment my picture and the voices of others was so deeply ingrained in my mind that I actually had a difficult time doing what was best for all of us.
Later it became a brilliant exercise, to let go of a notion and move forward into a new vision. After a while so many things were not like the books or blog posts that I was happy to find my own path, and I freed myself from self judgement.
I did and still do like the mom blogs, the voices (so long as they aren’t screaming at me but speaking to me) of other women. It’s nice to see how people are doing the same things differently, to get inspired. To laugh, to nod and then to move onward with myself.
Mobility is also oddly the first emphasis I put on women getting back into exercise postpartum.
Finding your ranges of motion again, embracing them, regaining them. Moving with your body not through it or despite your pain. Looking at your postpartum-mom bod with a level of mobility. being able to identify yourself with meaning and the notion that you will reagin and look and feel even better then before. That it simply takes time. Because returning back to exercise after having a baby is oddly not about working as hard as you can all of the time, but about working in a smart way. Often pacing and making new milestones.
And so, in closing arguments I will say that if you just allow yourself to maintain an open mind to the process (the entire process) from the birth itself to everything that comes after, you will have an easier time with the challenges and a far (far) better time with the incredible milestones.