Yoga Diary: Aware Parenting

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It’s the middle of the night, and I’m frantically rocking my newborn and sobbing—from lack of sleep, raging hormones, and sore nipples. He won’t close his eyes. I’ve lost control: My tired mind forgets simple things, and my spirit is alternately broken and uplifted.

But yoga, I remind myself, has taught me lessons I can use as a new parent. During many wakeful nights, I remember the sensation of opening up into a glorious backbend and remind myself that surrendering, rather than controlling, is a wise approach.
Surrendering means setting aside seemingly reasonable expectations. It means not making a mental checklist when my son is happily playing in his crib—I can check my voicemail, eat, clean up the mess—so that when he inevitably needs my attention, I don’t get stuck in resentment. It means remembering that he’s tiny and helpless. It means laughing instead of crying at the absurdity of getting dressed with one hand. It means not planning anything, because he might be napping or cranky.
“Mothering is very difficult and there is a lot that you can’t control,” says Diane Dillon, the coauthor of Mommy Mantras. “But what you can control is how you think and how
you respond.”

I try to respond by breathing.
“If you take a deep breath and repeat to yourself, ‘I can stand this,’ then
you start to have a greater sense of control,” Dillon says.

I can stand this. Surrendering control is like melting into a backbend—I feel more alive, connected, present, powerful. I look down at my son’s
inquisitive eyes and touch his velvety skin. These moments of complete
surrender allow me to soften, and I whisper thank you to whoever listens.