As I prepared for the birth of my first baby over nine years ago, I was completely unaware of the impact stepping into motherhood would have on all of my relationships. Sure we talked about it in prenatal yoga and yes people mentioned it casually during conversation, however, it’s like a secret club you don’t really get until your baby is born. No matter how much it was discussed, I did not fully embody all of the refinement and expansion I would experience within every single one of my relationships.
Initially, my relationship with my body was the most apparent to me. Over the nine months of pregnancy and 3 plus years of nursing that would follow (plus one more baby), I was constantly in awe of how much my body was shifting and changing. I was not prepared for how large my breasts would become during the early weeks and months of breastfeeding. I was not prepared to hold onto an extra 15 pounds throughout the majority of our nursing relationship. I was also not prepared for this new gratitude and love I felt for my body which conceived, carried, delivered, and was now feeding and sustaining my sweet baby.
It didn’t take long for relationships to also shift and change with extended family. As I was stepping into this role of motherhood, my family was also stepping into this role of grandparenthood, and aunt and unclehood. At times I felt a deep connection with family unlike any connection I had ever felt and at other times these relationships were heated and rocky at best. It took us all time to navigate our new roles and to treat one another with unconditional compassion regardless of differences in parenting styles that became very apparent after birth.
The relationship with my partner was also not free from this growth and refinement. Initially it was navigating what it meant to move from a couple to a family. It didn’t take long though for conversations regarding sleep, breastfeeding, vaccinations, money, work, self care, etc. etc. etc. to find it’s way to the forefront of our conversations. It’s almost as if a marriage/partnership undergoes a spiritual and symbolic upheaval after the birth of a child and then each person must continuously relearn and reconnect with each other amidst all the demands of life…. work, errands, grocery shopping, laundry, children, commitments, the list just keeps going on and on. While you are continuously finding yourself as a mother, you are simultaneously trying to relearn the landscape with your partner and carve out moments of stillness where you both reconnect with one another. Not an easy task to negotiate.
And my relationship to myself…initially this relationship was overlooked for many years by my own innate desire to care for my daughter and my family. My deepest calling during the early years of motherhood was to receive love by caring for others. But the time comes as your children embrace their own wings where you awaken to the stirrings of your own soul. The desires of your heart become so loud and unmistakable that it forces you to pause, to sit with yourself, and to relearn the landscape of your own inner being. What a beautiful, heartfelt, soulful experience to completely be with yourself but also an unnerving experience to undo old patterns that no longer serve you.
I recently felt called to pick up and start perusing “A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson. My heart of course was drawn to the chapter on relationships. And here’s what is settling into my heart…
“Relationships are assignments. They are part of a vast plan for enlightenment, the Holy Spirit’s blueprint by which each individual soul is led to greater awareness and expanded love. Relationships are the Holy Spirit’s laboratories in which He brings together people who have the maximal opportunity for mutual growth. He appraises who can learn most form whom at any given time, and then assigns them to each other. Like a giant universal computer, He knows exactly what combination of energies, in exactly what context, would do the most to further God’s plan for salvation. No meetings are accidental. Those who are to meet will meet, because together they have the potential for a holy relationship.”
Now feel free to insert any words that resonate with you for Holy Spirit, God, He, etc. It’s more about the vibration these words hold for you rather than the words themselves. But the yoga here is to embrace all of the shifts, refinements, expansions, intimacy, blissful moments and sometimes loss that unfolds within any relationship as they are all an expression of the divine. Relationships exist to support our individual and collective growth and invite us to lean more into the divine. Channel love and compassion to all of your relationships including the ones that trip you up the most. Including the relationships with people who irritate, confuse, and infuriate you the most. These relationships are your greatest teachers and greatest opportunities to deepen your sense of love. These relationships are your practice and your yoga!
As Marianne so plainly says “An intimate romantic love (insert any deep, soulful relationship in your life) is like taking graduate work toward a Ph.D. in the ways of love, and many of us are hardly out of elementary school.”
May we all continue to embrace our relationships from a place of curiosity, studentship, and unconditional love. May we continue to remove any and all barriers to manifesting more authentic love and connection within our lives. May we see all of our relationships as our greatest teachers and as a means to quicken our walk to the divine.
With deep reverence and love!