The Body Is The Vessel
Today during my coaching session with Michiko Rolek she spoke the words, "the body is the vessel." Now I am taking it slightly out of context because there is always so much more to everything she says. Like tree rings (also called growth rings) deeper and deeper into the heart of the matter we go.
I am interested in a deeper understanding of all things. Myself included.
Back to the vessel. As a woman my body is a vessel for many things. My spiritual awakening occurred when my body served as a vessel for my baby girl, Isabelle Rae McCarthy-Moya. Born on September 7, 2013.
I always wanted to be a Momma. Intuitively I always knew in the deepest part of my heart that motherhood would be a significant part of my life journey. Before Isabelle was born my husband Nico offhandedly commented, "I hope she doesn't cry a lot." My perfectly natural head in the clouds Gemini response went something like this, "Cry? Why would she cry? She is going to be so happy and so loved. She will have no reason to cry."
Babies don't need a reason to cry. They don't need a reason because they don't think. They feel. And when Isabelle was born she felt like crying. For 6 hours every evening. Until she was about 4-months-old.
Stay with me as I rewind to a phone call from my sister Jessica when I was about 6-months pregnant. "I think Isabelle's middle name should be Rae. She is going to be such a little Rae of sunshine."
Hmmm. Where were those sunshine vibes at??
I was ready to quit Motherhood after week one. Ok, maybe not that soon. But by week 8 definitely. Yet, I persevered. Because I love her. Because I was determined to be a good mom. Because I am stubborn as hell. And because I had no choice.
Don't get me wrong there were a lot of sweet MOMents and those are forever etched in the chambers of my heart. The smell of her. The way she held my finger in her entire hand. Midnight nursing sessions when all the world was quiet and I was free to gaze at her in wonder and awe with no outside distractions. I would take her hiking regularly and I loved carrying her in the baby bjorn heart to heart. Looking down and seeing her curious face peering out. Or the angelic expressions on her face as she slept in total peace snuggled into my body. The way her teeniest smile made my heart EXPLODE with joy and reminded me that I was doing something right. Ah, the smell of her! I couldn't get enough of that.
And there was the crying. In the background during every dinner. In the rocker way past bedtime as one of us did our best to lull her into a comfortable slumber. I would try to escape in the bath. No amount of candlelight could block the sound of the crying. As a mother it does something to your body. There is a STRONG physiological response. The STRESS! I had never experienced anything like it and I didn't have any tools to cope with it.
By the time we reached the 4-month mark I was exhausted. I didn't have an outlet to talk about what I was going through and even worse I didn't know how. So I existed in this space where I felt immense guilt for not enjoying motherhood, for not knowing how to help my baby, for not having more energy, for not calling my friends, for not being enough. Yes, for feeling like I wasn't enough. I wanted to be more. A better mother, a better friend, a better wife. I wanted to do more. I wanted to feel the way I felt pre-baby when I had energy and bopped around in tiny black dresses.
Thank goodness it's not possible to go backwards. I needed all of it to grow and become who I am today. But, at the time the thought of freedom from my responsibilities and my depressed state sounded pretty good.
Looking back I can clearly see I needed some serious momME time. A glass of wine. A yoga class. A day at the spa. Some connection and support. How about a deep breath?? A little relaxation probably could have helped.
As I sit here typing I am firing questions at the ghost of my past, "Melissa, what about YOU? Where in those feelings of shame and guilt is the love? The SELF-LOVE?! You are a mother, BUT above all else you are a woman. And you MUST above all else, love yourself first."
This is why on our Zen Momma business cards we share this quote from Sue Monk Kidd:
“You have to find a mother inside yourself. We all do. Even if we already have a mother, we still have to find this part of ourselves inside”
What? It's my job to take care of myself? It was a revolutionary MOMent for me when Michiko asked me, "How are you feeling?" during our first session after I had filled her in on how the first 8 months of motherhood had been for me.
"How are you feeling?"
That little question served as my spiritual awakening. From that day on I have been a committed student, total FunZen girl, Zen Momma and MAJOR advocate of self-love. Through experience I have learned it's much easier to say than put into practice. It takes FAITH. Time. It is a lifelong journey. It takes a willingness to learn with a beginner's mind, which is an open heart. And it takes COURAGE. As Michiko reminded me just today, "the gift is a deeper understanding." There is no end to that depth.
Back to the story of my sweet baby and motherhood. I love baby steps. They are wobbly yet made possible by the belief that they will succeed. That soon they will walk. Run. Dance. Live! And that is a beautiful thing. I also love learning in baby steps and that is how I have gotten to where I am today. One. step. at. a. time.
Today I am a blessed Momma of two. Gabriel Nicolas McCarthy-Moya was born August 14, 2016. It is no accident that one meaning of Gabriel is "messenger of God." Both Isabelle and Gabe named themselves by the way. I asked each of them what their name was and both times it came to me in a dream. Thank goodness Hubby was on board with that.
With Gabe I had a natural birth. After three years of coaching with Michiko I was in touch with my body. I had a regular meditation practice (and still do) and was much stronger in my posture and breath. "The body is the vessel." It is the vessel for our spirit, yet our spirit must be grounded here on Mother Earth. Here in the present MOMent. Our breath and posture are always present and our body is their vessel. Mine was a much more GROUNDED and capable vessel for birthing my babe with this knowledge and consistent practice.
I am so grateful for both of my experiences. With Isabelle I delivered vaginally with an epidural. I LOVE that experience because I know firsthand the difference between a natural birth and one assisted by pain management. With my natural birth my mind, body and spirit were one. In harmony they worked together to bring Gabe into this world. I knew what do to and when to do it. I was truly a divine force of nature.
The power of my breath, my inspiration, is the reason I was able to have a natural birth. Leading up to the delivery, during and after my breath helped to circulate endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. Breath releases toxic stress and tension from the body, freeing it to operate in a more relaxed state so it can do what it innately knows how to do. Nature is smart! The breath is a tool for focusing and channeling energy. The breath is our superpower!
You get the idea.
My commitment to self-love, which includes my "blisscipline" makes me a stronger, more compassionate woman and a better mother. I want to add that I am not perfect - far from it. That is a part of self-love too. Seeing all parts of myself; the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Forgiving myself when I make mistakes. Self-acceptance was a radical idea for me! It is so liberating (and sooo much more effective) to let go of the guilt and simply keep the lesson.
So long story short I am really a mother of three. I am first and foremost a mother to myself. And I promise to love my inner child just as much as I love my outer two.
Amen! And phew! This post was a little journey in itself. Thank you for joining me as I continue to grow, love myself more and deepen my connection to my body, my sacred vessel, that I couldn't be more grateful for.