For my little boy’s first year, surprise surprise… I didn’t get a full eight hours’ sleep at night. No S%&T! I hear you say… I was walkin’ around like a Mr Snuffle-up-a-gus of Sesame Street. From being told by the doctors that I’d never get pregnant, to being the owner of a baby that didn’t want to sleep more than a few hours in a row – I was seriously questioning how to obtain a refund on the baby.
I remember when Ethan was only about four weeks old and I was right in the thick of being a new mum, completely freaked out by the whole experience. I was running on adrenalin because I didn’t choose to sleep when Ethan was sleeping during the day.
Resentment of Ethan was building up rapidly because I was so sleep deprived, but more so because instead of feeling that my life had expanded, I felt it had shrunk. I felt like I had taken twenty steps backwards in designing my life.
I was angry because the 10-year cosy, care free, fun relationship with my husband had been tipped upside down, literally the moment Ethan was born. I could see the prospect of impromptu holidays and weekends away disappear before my eyes and I knew I could kiss goodbye to lounging by the pool of a no-kids-allowed luxury resort.
Just the time it took to get out of the house with a newborn was driving me mad. Dashing out of the house in less than a minute, with a small clutch under my arm was definitely a thing of the past. And after 12 years running my own companies and working with amazing teams, I was beginning to question if I was going to have to put every career and creative aspiration I had on hold for a very long time.
But the biggest resentment that was building inside of me was that I could no longer follow my daily morning ritual of getting up in the morning refreshed and amped after a full eight hours of sleep, running through a peaceful yoga session followed by an hour of walking through the park and then a long hot shower. I missed that along with being able to deliberate over the day’s wardrobe for five minutes—all before 7:30am.
I’m not sure exactly when or what triggered it, but I started reflecting how I could raise a child not by the book, but my way. Millions of women have done it before of course, but I wondered what my way could look like? The first (and biggest) lesson Ethan taught me was to be flexible. I hadn’t realised how rigid my thinking had become. I recognised I had enormous resistance to change, and now was the time to practice being flexible. I had (and still do sometimes) a propensity to be incredibly rigid, which makes me miserable and a miserable day is a wasted day in my opinion.
Part of my rigidity was trying to force things to happen, like attempting to make Ethan go to sleep at the times that worked for me, not when Ethan actually wanted to sleep (though he rarely slept during the day as a newborn). So if Ethan was sleeping at 3pm, I learned to practice my yoga at this new afternoon time. Hardly rocket science but honestly it took me a while to get there!
When I was doing my yoga, I loved the feeling of my body feeling stretched. Ethan was stretching me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. He was helping me to expand (and I don’t mean gaining baby weight… post-birth breast-feeding is the world’s fastest weight-loss program!)
I guess every phase of our daily life can be seen as a spiritual ritual. I don’t need to go to an ashram in India (even though I’ve meditated in one in silence for 21 days!) I’ve got my guru right in front of me.