I miss yoga. I was struggling in Warrior II during my second prenatal yoga class last night and feeling frustrated. How yogic of me, huh? I was torn between feeling disappointed in my performance and trying to not blame motherhood on the loss of “The Old Me.”
I’ve been thinking about “The Old Me” a lot lately. I’m knocking on the door of the last trimester of what is probably my last pregnancy. There are so many things I am looking forward to with a mixture of anxiety and elation, and yet less than two years into the life of my first child, I still struggle with what I have given up to be a mother. In the not-so distant past I was a woman always on the go. I’ve been a kickboxing instructor, yoga instructor, capoerista, martial artist, gym bunny, soccer player, volleyball player, and half marathoner. I’ve been a leader in a handful of young professional groups, and my bosses have always been able to count on me to take something that has never been done before and run with it. I could party all night every weekend, hit every weekday mixer, and still find time for intimate lunches and dinners out with my best friends.
It’s intriguing to see how people react to me during the transition pre- and post-motherhood. Some admitted their doubts that I could change. Some were certain that I wouldn’t allow anything to change. Despite these varying opinions, everyone has said that I wear motherhood so naturally it’s hard to remember who I was before I was a mother. I think that last sentiment can be applied to the things in my life that I have loved the most.
As a kid I played T-ball because my Dad made me. I hated it. But my Dad knew I just had so much energy to burn, I had to channel it somewhere. Sometimes he would tell me to run up and down the long hill on our property or jump on the trampoline in the garage if it was too cold out. Even though I played organized sports my entire youth, I really didn’t consider myself an athlete until adulthood. I distinctly recall thinking to myself, “I want to be one of those people who gets up and goes for a run.” Simple as that. It took time and dedication, but I ran on my own for 5 years until I caught the half marathon bug and have been an impassioned runner ever since.
Yoga was similar for me. I thought, “I want to be one of those yoga people.” Yeah, I wish I had a more noble goal, but I didn't. Like running, once I got a taste of yoga, I threw myself into it wholeheartedly. I took Bikram yoga no less than three times a week, cross training with three different types of martial arts. I expanded out to a variety of styles, branching out from Hatha and Bikram to Vinyasa and Iyengar. I researched the Bay Area’s best instructors and took their classes. I scoured bookstores for obscure and out-of-print books about philosophies and poses to enhance my personal practice. I even took a travel course in college on holistic healing which included Ayurvedic principles, which serve as the foundation of yoga.
I haven’t actively practiced yoga for several years now, but I will always consider myself a yogi. To this day I tap into the peace of mind that mindful breathing gives me, and the body spatial awareness I learned has carried me through from weight lifting to child birthing.
I think that motherhood is the same way. Like yoga, I discovered it, embraced it, and allowed myself to be changed forever and for the better because of it. For that matter, although my oldest child is merely a toddler, I know that I will always be a mother. I will always be my children’s mother, but more importantly I will always be a mother. I already feel empathy and protectiveness over others more than I ever thought was possible. I handle others more gently than I did in my young, selfish days. I care for others so much. I know I’ll always be my children’s mother, and God willing I’ll be a grandmother, great grandmother, etc doling out advice and home-baked cookies for years to come.
I have not always been a mother, but like an athlete, yogi, and so many more of my identities, there are parts of myself that I have discovered and nurtured and allowed myself to be transformed by. I will forever frame the way I live my life through the lens of the identities I have held. There is no "The Old Me." There is only "Me," and I seek to improve her a little bit more every day.