I met a first-time mama on the bus last week, and she left such an impression on me that I still find myself thinking of her. She had this strength about her that was so beautiful, and I could see the fierce love she carried for her little one. I also sensed that she was struggling. Perhaps it was the exhaustion, the loneliness, the coming-to-terms with her new identity as a mother…and the rawness of it. I could see it in her eyes, and I could hear it in her voice. I recognized it at once because I’ve been there myself in those early months and years of parenting.
I wanted to support her in some small way. I wanted to acknowledge the validity of her feelings and empathize with her. I wanted to reassure her that it would be okay. That she would be okay. There was so much I wanted to say, but just one simple phrase slipped from my lips:
I think you’re doing a wonderful job, mama.
I practice Bikram yoga. At the end of each class as I lie in Savasana, I find myself reflecting on the lessons I learn on the mat and how I can apply them to my life outside of yoga - to my parenting, to my relationships with others and to my work with parents. One mantra that resonates with me deeply is meet whatever comes your way today with compassion and kindness. I think to myself how different the world would be if we were all to do this a little more often.
“Ah, kindness. What a simple way to tell another struggling soul that there is love to be found in this world.” – Alison Malee
Did this mama I met on the bus feel alone? Perhaps she did and in a sense she was. But in another very real sense, she wasn’t. Because on any given day, many people are struggling behind closed doors. Feeling lonely. Isolated. Scrolling through social media looking for adult interaction…longing for connection. Connection: It is one of our most basic needs. It’s why babies want to be held, why toddlers want to be close, why adults feel empty without it. We need to feel connected to others…it’s as vital as food or water.
What if we slowed down enough to really see those around us? To meet others where they are at and to meet them with kindness and compassion? Would that change their day in some small way? Would it change their experience of motherhood or fatherhood?
So for all you mamas out there:
I see you.
You matter too.
You are not alone.
It’s okay to feel lonely sometimes even when you’re with your baby. I know you love your little one more than life itself, but that doesn’t mean that you have to love every minute of parenthood. And that doesn’t make you a bad parent or a bad human being. It just makes you human.