By Amy Quinn-Suplina,
Bend + Bloom Owner
In her moving piece ‘What do new mothers do all day?’ Anne Rust captures the paradox of new motherhood—we feel like we never stop working to keep up with the demands of our infants, homes, and new realities, yet also constantly feel like we get “nothing” done. Moms’ work can not be measured.
But when I think back to my time as a brand new mom it is, ironically, the time in my motherhood I felt most recognized. I owe that to the cluster of moms I spent countless hours with in the first year of my son’s life. We met when pregnant at a Childbirth Education class and gravitated back to each other after our babies’ births—sitting cramped in each others’ small Brooklyn apartments a few afternoons each week breastfeeding, eating lunch, and chatting. For hours we would oscillate between conversations about our new mama war wounds and discussions beyond our identities as new moms. In addition to sore nipples we had political opinions, art critiques, and shifting careers!
I recognize now that what we were engaged in while sitting on the floor with our infants was a very informal practice of mindfulness. No, we never sat quietly and meditated or even contemplated it but we infused ordinary moments of our newly chaotic lives with the art of noticing. Of course there was a whole lot of moaning and griping going on but we were registering the seemingly mundane details of new motherhood, sharing the subconscious or private thoughts other women bury when caring for their babies in isolation, and validating each others’ experiences. While this exercise wasn’t an act of measuring per se we did evaluate and recognize our contributions to our changing families and relationships.
As we collectively affirmed the mundane, painful and quietly joyful moments of new motherhood our patterns of overwhelm shifted and the emotional load we carried lightened over time. While it is conjecture, my theory is that through time and the process of noticing the otherwise invisible, some of my friends who were suffering postpartum depression eventually rewired neural pathways and were able to envision choices available to them beyond the first years of diapers, breastfeeding, and exhaustion. It was during those long afternoons spent with my mom friends that I committed to my vision of opening Bend + Bloom and starting the New Parents Support Group which is launching its ninth year.
In closing her article, Anne Rust urges moms to close their eyes and “measure your day not as tasks, but as feelings, as sounds, as colors. “ In essence, she encourages mindfulness-- a great practice for those long, lonely days at home with an infant and a beautiful, transformative habit to practice in community.
Amy Quinn Suplina is the founder of Bend + Bloom Yoga. We invite you to find your parenting community with our New Parents Support Groups on Tuesdays at 1p starting tomorrow, Tue 10/3. The first 5 clients to arrive will receive a free Bend + Bloom onesie!