Every mom understands this predicament—if not the inner peace, then definitely the lack of toilet peace. You no longer belong to yourself, even in your most private moments.
A few days ago I found myself simultaneously having a pee, singing “You Are My Sunshine”, rocking my crying 6-week-old baby boy in my left arm, and grabbing toilet paper with the right (surprisingly hard to do with one hand!). As if this were not enough to juggle, just then my four-year-old son came bounding up the stairs shouting “Mammaaaa! Where are you?!” and, upon discovering my whereabouts, proceeded to climb exuberantly onto my lap, announcing “I am the lion king!”
Ah privacy, my old friend: I miss you!
Not that I’m complaining. I actually resolved to give that up for Lent.
I chose to become a mother. I am blessed to be a mother twice over. I love being a mother. Some people try for years to have what I have, injecting themselves with hormones in the hope of just one baby, let alone two. The sum total of what I have had to give up is nothing compared to what I get in return daily for being a mother.
But when I read articles about how to change your life by waking up early, meditating and getting shit done, I despair. I fantasise about quiet mornings, sipping warm lemon water while watching the sun rise after my wonderfully refreshing early yoga & meditation session. This is just not an option for someone who has to stay up till midnight just to get a few hours of alone-time.
How am I supposed to maintain inner peace when I can’t even pee in peace?
Before my second son was born at the end of last year, I had a pretty good routine down. I balanced teaching a handful of yoga classes a week with a full time job, being a mom to my eldest the rest of the time, not to mention a half-decent wife who cooked infrequently and made love more so, occasionally writing something of worth and still squeezing in a regular yoga practice in my lunch-hours. In a weird reversal of the fabric of time and space, when I was working five days a week, I had the time, not to mention the energy, to do all of this.
Now that I am at home with two kids full-time, apart from my son’s 15 free hours per week at nursery, I cannot fathom how I previously managed to juggle all of this without even feeling as though I was juggling. Now, on some days, just getting dressed before 10 and out of the house by midday seems unattainable.
One thing I can say is that, having been previously hazed into the motherhood sorority, I am aware that this is a phase. I know that one day I will be able to remember what eight hours of straight sleep feels like, which will mean that I will rise early to meditate and practice and teach; I will have date nights again; and I will be able to use both my hands to grab the toilet-paper.
For now though, all of the above and more luxuries not mentioned are pretty much out of the question. This means that I have spent the last six weeks cranky as hell. I miss my time, my routine, my tidy house, and I miss my inner peace.
But then was it really that real if a bit of new baby chaos could have thrown it out the window so easily?
In truth, it never really went anywhere.
In the last few days I have had glimpses of it again. I realise that its temporary obscurity had nothing to do with external circumstances, but everything to do with inner constructions. While I’ve left it untended, my mind has been very busy building noise. So many thoughts—expectations, disappointments, desires, resentments, obsessions, worries, fears—that I could no longer hear the quiet sound of eternal emptiness within me.
In the last few days I have done things a bit differently. As soon as both my boys are asleep I have rolled out my yoga mat and given myself time to rediscover my inner peace. It’s not easy. My body is tight in places I had forgotten it could be and that’s nothing compared to the tension in my mind. But the wonderful thing is that this practice doesn’t require months or even weeks to yield space. Space in the body and in the mind.All it takes is one return to the mat. One return to yourself, and you can taste home again.
But what about the days when there is no chance to stretch and sit?
Tonight when I rolled out my mat in the small space between my sleeping baby and the wardrobe, he stirred and cried just as I started my first salutation. I picked him up, held him and spoke to him quietly. I folded a soft blanket and put it in the middle of my mat and lay him down on it. And then I carried on as best I could, stepping gently over and around him, kissing his tummy in child’s pose, smiling and making faces at him in downward-facing dog. And he calmed and watched me intently. We carried on that way for the next 10 minutes until he cried again.
As I got myself into a comfortable position to feed him, my mind started fussing about the lack of sweet conclusion to my practice that I had so looked forward to. But I recognised its trouble-making straight away and reminded myself that there was no reason I couldn’t meditate with a baby attached to my boob. So I did. And I wrapped myself and my little boy in the quietness inside me. Thoughts came, as they always do, but we let them pass. And for a while after he finished feeding, I sat.
“You already are the peace you are looking for. Be still and know that.” ~ Mooji
Author: Khara-Jade Warren
Editor: Caroline Beaton