Breathe in. Breathe out. Feel better?
If only it were that simple. After a day of caring for an infant, it is not always easy to feel any sort of tranquility.
I’ll start off by saying that my son, Theo, is seriously adorable. Yes, all mothers say that…but who would actually admit otherwise? (Oh, my baby is just hideous! A real orc!) And two of my son’s best traits are his endearing smile and winsome personality. They are, however, often accompanied by ear-piercing squeals, zealous kicking, intermittent wailing, frantic hair-grasping, and discontented writhing. (Sound familiar?)
Towards the end of the day, when I am finally able to place him into his DreamGlider for his first segment of bedtime (which lasts a couple hours before he wakes up looking for that first nighttime feed, after which I place him in his crib), I’m pooped. But, I’m also left with the difficult decision as to what I would like to accomplish in those precious, limited hours before I hear his next siren call.
Vacuuming? (Thank you to DJ Shark for making it look like I somewhat have my house together.) Exercise? Nap? Eat? Watch TV? Read? Meditate?
I have to admit that last one usually takes top priority for me. (You can only smell like spoiled formula for so long.) And, while I rotate on different nights between all of the other tasks mentioned (and then some), there is one thing I endeavor to achieve every night: say my mantra.
If you don’t know what a mantra is, there are several definitions that can be found on the web. Wikipedia describes it as, “a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and/or spiritual powers. A mantra may or may not have a syntactic structure or literal meaning” (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia). But, you don’t necessarily have to recite Sanskrit if you do not want to. You can find a variety of mantras online (Pinterest is full of mantras), or you can create your own personal mantra. Which is exactly what I did.
Why did I create a mantra? Well, because I don’t always find comfort in the cliched mantras found isle after isle in Hobby Lobby (you know the ones). Not to hate on anyone who has purchased this type of decor before (my classroom is COVERED in posters and wooden plaques from a variety of hobby shops in my town — English teachers, am I right?). Cliched mantras can work (PureWow even has an article on this titled, “9 Cliché but True Mantras to Get You Through the Day” — and yes, it is true, Beyonce wasn’t built in a day), but they do not stem from your own inner turmoils or outward toils.
When you take the time to meditate on your specific issues, you are able to devise a mantra that speaks to your truth; this is where the meaningful, weighty mantras are born. (I know, I should’ve said if you get the time, although I do believe you need to prioritize time for yourself — see my recent post, “Bad Mama: The Internal Struggle Between Choosing Time For Yourself and Time with Your Baby” if you would like to hear more about my thoughts on that).
For me, when I was finally able — and willing — to use those precious couple of hours to create my mantra (while Theo rocked gently in his swing, hopefully floating in an ethereal bliss where mantras are superfluous), I cried. I bawled in a way I hadn’t since I was in the abyss of baby blues. Not because I was sad, but because it was a release. Like digging out a thorn from underneath the skin; it was a healing.
And this sensation — this ameliorating of thoughts that bugged me for months — made me feel more connected to that person, mama and all, that I set out to be long before Theo entered this world.
So, here it is. My own personal mantra:
Gratitude for what I have.
Appreciation for those in my life.
Acceptance for the way things are.
Be kind to others and to myself.
It may not appear like much to you (or maybe it did, I really have no idea!), but that is not the point. The point is that, to me, it is powerful. Each one of those lines reflect some aspect of my life that needed to be addressed. And every time I say those lines, I am reminded of what I have, who I am, and who I want to be. And that, my friends, is the power of personal mantras.
So, mamas (and papas), whether you choose to hop on Pinterest to find your mantra, pull out your favorite religious scripture, review your favorite poem, tune into your favorite song, or create your own personal mantra, try to say a few words every day to remind you of what you have and who you are. Even if it only occurs in the shower.