It’s something we have all heard so many times – ‘this too shall pass’. But how does it really help when you are drowning in the tough parts? Mama, coach and yoga teacher Claire Obeid reflects how she can now see the wisdom in these words.
“This too shall pass”
I remember these kind words of advice all too well, as I teetered on the edge of postnatal depression in the early months of motherhood.
My sisters would drop in for ‘visits’. Really, they were colluding behind the scenes to regularly check in with me. They were worried: they could see I was headed into darkness. Which, ironically, I literally was as I was relegated to rocking a hysterical, unsettled baby in the dark (multiples times a day) to the irritating sound of white noise.
During their drop-in visits, my sisters, who have six children between them, would all repeat the same words of wisdom, just delivered in different ways.
A message of ‘This Too Shall Pass’.
Claire, they would say, nothing lasts forever, it’ll change soon enough.
This time of your life is a season and seasons inevitably change and merge into a new time, a new energy and experience. Just as the last high Summer days ease off into crisp mornings and technicolour autumn leaves, the various experiences of our multi-layered lives do the same.
You would think that this beautifully profound and wise message would have eased the inner turmoil and distress I was feeling… but at the time, it did nothing of the sort. I was so lost in my head and so deeply down the rabbit hole of new-parent-land that I couldn’t really make sense of nor fully align to the truth of the message.
I was unable to soak up the wisdom my sisters were offering me.
These women – these mamas – weren’t just sharing an idea they’d heard, but instead were passing on their own experience and knowledge: that time passes, seasons change and this (all of ‘this’) will pass. They’d lived and breathed this, and moved through it to the other side. Through the light, the dark, the joy, and the struggle – every facet of motherhood.
And now, I can say the same. Yes, I’m only two years into this crazy-wild ride but I’ve ridden the waves and undulations enough now to know the power of these words. I’m ready now to embrace this season knowing that it’ll change again, faster than I can say ‘this too shall pass’.
Today, I live with this idea etched into my heart. Today I can feel that these aren’t just words, but a life-line and a guidance system. And, most importantly, one of the key ‘Mama Commandments’ to live by.
There came a time when the truth – that everything we are facing will pass – carried (and still does) me through some of the most testing experiences of my life. The Mantra – This Too Shall Pass – on repeat in my mind helped guide me towards a place of acceptance. Like the time I had gastro; violently throwing up every 15 minutes into a bucket, in the dark, whilst my baby who was also fighting the bug, refused to be anywhere but in my arms and latched to my breast. Yes, throwing up whilst breastfeeding and in between singing to her to alleviate her fear.
This too shall pass, this too shall pass, this too shall pass.
However, this truth has eventually morphed into something quite different. It’s become less about bearing down and breathing through challenges, and more about pressing pause and being here now. And fully embracing the chaos – yes, even the gastro-fuelled variety.
Let me explain…
Sometimes as a mama we want to be everything to everyone. We still feel a strong desire to be the wife/partner we used to be. Committed, engaged, loving, present. We also want to be in the world as women, not just as a mama. That might be through the work you do, the projects you birth, the art you create, or the way you participate and serve. Perhaps even how you dress – getting out the door with some mascara and a clean shirt is no mean feat! Then there is the desire to be the perfect domestic wife, the super mama juggling all the balls. Cooking up delicious organic meals in your spotless kitchen with your beautifully manicured nails. Not to mention making sure we have plenty of me-time for self love and self care.
All these desires left unfulfilled can leave us in a state of resentment. Not necessarily towards our little ones, but definitely towards ‘Motherhood’. When we feel robbed of time, energy, choice, freedom, independence, it’s so easy to understand why we sometimes catch ourselves wishing away this time. Wanting to hurry it along is normal, mamas. Trust me – you’re not the only one that thinks that way.
I used to catch myself fantasising about the day when Soleil would be at school. Oh! The time I would have back again. What would I do? I’d start the day with an ocean swim and yoga. Perhaps work over breakfast in my favourite cafe. Then head home to put dinner on and be a domestic goddess. More soul-nourishing creative work. Throw in a massage, a meditation and some reading/study before picking up my little one from school.
(By the way, I am totally aware that this is seriously unrealistic and perhaps fanciful, but hey – consider this my official request universe!)
So what’s my point? Well, it’s precisely this. Yes, all our desires matter. And yes, it’s hard to adjust to the lack of time and the unfulfilled and incomplete dreams. But, this season, right here, the one you are in… this WILL end. And if we keep wishing it away, my god will we be sorry we did one day.
Because ‘this too shall pass’ is a spiritual law, an unshakeable truth. The season of mamahood you are in will most certainly, without a shadow of a doubt, change – and rapidly change at that.
Your toddler will go from waddling to walking to running before you can say ‘slow down!’ Those nights where she wants to be in your arms only because her eye teeth are cutting will come to an end and so will her desire to be wrapped in your warmth. She’ll utter her first words and soon enough she’ll be back-talking and smart-assing her way through slang words you’ve never heard.
Now, when I look back at that horrendous gastro night, all I remember is strength, softness, bravery, love. I don’t remember the exhaustion, the tears, the fear, the pain.
You know where I’m going with this. It’s clear as day. This season is precious. Golden. Unrepeatable. It will instantly move from the present into a story you will desperately try to recall one day. As it should. The changing of time, the growth, the transformation is a beautiful thing. Watching our babies unfold is such an unreal experience. Gratefully, we get to see our babies grow and evolve.
Today when I’m in the parenting trenches, I try not to grit my teeth and bare it. Instead, I try to throw myself in a little deeper, to soak in it more. Absorb the beauty, the slivers of joy that are there, hidden sometimes under the chaos. Because this season is changing before my very eyes – and I already miss yesterday.
So I choose presence.
I choose the magic of the here and now.
I choose to crack open my heart and lean into the moment.
The more I do that the more I am accepting and filled with gratitude for this season. Knowing full well that this too shall pass, I know now that those words of wisdom are inviting me to bundle my baby up into my arms, my everything, my being and dive head first into motherhood in all of its crazy-beautiful mess.
Claire Obeid is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Yoga Teacher who inspires women to discover balance, true happiness and perfect health. She reaches women in over 15 countries worldwide through her insightful and intuitive blog, video posts and dedicated Facebook page.