Nearly two years have passed since I became the mother of the love of my life. There have been many moments when I’ve wanted to write and share a bit of this story. Yet it’s taken until now for my pen to ink these few pages.
Becoming a mom has been the greatest process of personal learning that I have ever lived. I look back at the woman I was, just three years ago, and see her as so different from who I am today.
Maternity has gifted me with a perspective of the world endowed with more compassion, empathy and humility.
I reflect on the ideas I once had about being a mom. Phrases would pass through my mind like, “when I have kids, I’m going to be a cool mom,” or “my kids are going to be like…”. Now I laugh remembering my own words. And one of the greatest gifts of this process has been to accept all the things that aren’t in my control and embrace them softly, instead of fighting against them.
I have always been of the mentality that everything is possible. I began telling myself that I could turn my every vision into reality, and I believe that this mindset has given me the motivation and energy to live the experiences with which I have painted my life’s canvas. I’ve been able to materialize my creative ideas, have my own business, travel alone through many countries where I met wonderful people and immersed myself in their cultures. I’ve been able to incorporate my passion for the sea and surf into my everyday lifestyle. To surf paradisiacal waves. To live in different countries and create a family on the other side of the world.
Three years ago, my life was full of exciting adventures, new places, parties, trips from one corner of the world to another, and perfect waves everywhere I went. But the lack of routine and stability – even if I wasn’t fully aware of it – was accompanied by headaches, fatigue and doubt.
When I was three months pregnant, I flew from Australia to Bali to renew my tourist visa. I rented a room in front of the ocean near the famous wave, Keramas. I remember being on the point, full of experienced surfers, and paddling competitively against them for a few good waves. Once I snagged a decent right and started paddling back out to the lineup, a giant set came and I got stuck on the inside. Another surfer caught a wave, and as he turned, scratched over my back with one of his fins.
Fortunately, nothing happened and I wasn’t hurt. Yet, after that moment I lost my mind. I began thinking seriously about what would happen if one of those surfers actually hit me, and that just because I wanted to catch a wave - like the many perfect waves I had been blessed to surf in my life – something would happen to my baby. It wasn’t just about me anymore.
That afternoon, instead of returning to surf, I went to the nearby Komune Resort, located just in front of the wave. And although I never spent money on that sort of thing, I reserved the “Goddess Package” at the spa – a full treatment with massages, facials, and a steamy bathtub full of rose petals. I indulged in a delicious jasmine tea surrounded by beautiful Balinese gardens. After the three-hour treatment, I left feeling like more than a goddess, in a state of sheer bliss. It was exactly what I needed in that moment: to take care of myself instead of trying to prove to myself that I could catch and surf those big waves.
Back at home in Australia, I kept surfing throughout my pregnancy, until one morning in the waves when I was six months pregnant, and accepted that I wasn’t enjoying it. My sensitive nipples hurt in the frigid water of Fall, and it bothered me to have people around me, as I feared they could inadvertently hit my belly. It was then that I traded surf for long walks on the beach and re-invigorated my yoga practice.
While I’ve gone to many yoga classes over the years since I was young, this time I started practicing five times per week. Previously, I would often say that mellow yoga classes bored me; but during my last three months of pregnancy, I finally started to love breathing, holding postures, listening to my body and not forcing anything that didn’t feel right. I would try to imagine what the baby was doing inside me. I felt how he would grow calm with the rhythm of my breath. How he moved and became more active with my movements.
During my pregnancy, I was lucky to be able to rest a lot and take naps whenever my body asked for them. Practicing yoga frequently, I started to discover that there are days when my body wants to be more active and is more flexible; and other days when it begs for rest, wants to relax and repose in savasana for an entire hour.
I had a natural and very quick birth. My son was born in warm water - the only thing that alleviated my pain. A few seconds after, I held him in my arms, pain-free and full of the greatest love I have ever felt. And in that moment, as my own mother had warned me: my life changed forever.
In a few months, I will complete a three-year cycle of living in Australia. Although I feel fortunate to live in this beautiful, tranquil place, my soul misses being in my own land. I miss the humid ylang-ylang scented air, the sound of the scarlet macaws over the almond tree on my patio, those rainy afternoons that smell of fresh, wet earth; the animated smiles of the people around me.
Becoming a mom has coincided with this period in my life where I’ve lived far away from home. Australia has gifted me with patience, a new perspective on the world and society. Living here has grown my appreciation for the simple things and the perfect cycles of nature.
In our modern culture we are used to running; to having everything and more. We live our lives so busy thinking about what we’ll do next, the next place we’ll visit; until the point that we forget to live this moment, to enjoy this place.
As women, we want to teach the world and ourselves that we can be and do everything. We want to show that we are intelligent, beautiful, professional, sexy, sporty, funny, capable, strong; mothers, friends, lovers – in a word, perfect. We want to prove that we are everything, always.
I feel that most of us have that microchip built into the fabric of our skin. The need to prove our worth to the world is so great that we feel guilty if we take a break.
As women, we are not only capable of being mothers of incredible human beings. We also have the potential and energy to give life to and grow businesses, creative projects, communities and all types of dreams.
I believe that the time has come for us as women to set aside that necessity to prove our worth and ability. It’s time to gift ourselves the time we need to listen to ourselves, our bodies and our spirits.
More time to breathe deeply. More naps in the garden with our children. More deep conversations and less social networking. Fewer “stories” and more smiles at strangers. More breaks. More pause.
We are living a time in which it has become impossible to make plans. Everything I planned for this year has been frozen or canceled. This is the perfect moment to live in the here and now.
I’ve heard many times that yoga teaches us to be more flexible; to create more space. I’m finally starting to understand that yoga is not about being a contortionist. Mentally, we should be flexible enough to accept and mold ourselves to what life presents us. Knowing and accepting ourselves, we create space for tranquility - space to receive the new experiences we need to learn and grow.
Living firsthand the process of how a spectacular human being starts as a microscopic union inside of us, gets nourished, and grows into a perfect baby, is absolutely wonderful. It has filled me with a profound sense of admiration toward the female human body and the overwhelming perfection of nature.
For me, the hardest part of becoming a mother was the death of the woman I had always been. When I realized that I was pregnant, despite the joy I experienced in somehow already knowing I wanted to have a baby, I cried inconsolably without knowing why. I look back now and believe that something in me knew that the “me” I was up until that moment was dying. And with that death has come a profound renewal. I have not only become the mother of my son; I have also witnessed the birth of the new woman who has arisen inside me.
Perhaps in those first few months I also cried for fear of the unknown, since I didn’t know what this new life would bring me. But as we witness all things born from the earth that are nourished with love, watered with attention and admiration, grow little by little, that’s how I have grown fond of my new me.
I still sometimes miss those endless, carefree days of surf for hours on end in the jungle. Yet I know that soon I’ll be able to go back to living them with an adventure partner who has made me feel more safe, more humble and more compassionate; and who has gifted me with this newfound appreciation for the cycles of nature and a deep love for what truly matters in life.
Motherhood, what a blessing it has been.
Originally written in Spanish by Michelle Rodriguez and beautifully translated to english by Tara Ruttenberg.