How to get clear on who you want to be, even when the Inner Mean Mama voice is telling you you’re doing it all wrong.
At the heart of Happy Mama, there is the commitment to self-inquiry.
You are here because, like the rest of us, you are wanting to learn how to live a life full of grace, gratitude and connection. You want to be the best you can be – for yourself, and your kids. And you deeply want to know how to balance your own dreams with raising your little ones (and being a great partner, sister, friend, daughter).
And you know that the only way to do that is – to learn more about yourself.
Who are you now you’re a mama? Who are you underneath all of the roles you play in life? Who are you under the exhaustion and the overwhelm, and who are you at your core?
This is what we’re here to discover together.
Self-inquiry is at the heart of what Cathryn teaches. And as you will discover, she has a beautiful way of bringing the yoga philosophy into the reality of mamahood.
My suggestion? Take the time to answer the questions she poses below. You are here, reading this, because you want to connect to the real you – and this is how you can.
“I HAT MUM” is gouged in red pen capitals on a purple post-it note and mashed onto my bedroom door. It’s a clear message: my youngest is unhappy with a boundary I’ve set.
A bit of hate mail for doing what I think is right isn’t going to bring my world down, especially with that rather endearing spelling mistake. I feel clear, steady, understanding of her response.
But sometimes the notes I send myself in my life as a mother are not amusing, endearing, or reasonable in their context;
- I’m standing panicking in a blizzard of toys and breakfast dishes; “What a mess! Get your act together” comes the message.
- I’m hanging out the washing or clearing a half-eaten dinner, tired, I want to stop; “You’ve done nothing worthwhile all day” says the note.
- I’m sitting on an icepack, breasts swollen and aching, breastfeeding my newborn, feigning interest in my 3yr old’s cartwheel show; “If my Masters supervisor could see me now…” I imagine him shaking his head in disappointment at what I’ve been reduced to; “Well SHE didn’t amount to much, what a waste.”
- I’m caught in the car before my daughter’s soccer game, listening to her 10-year-old wailing about how she “can’t go out looking like THIS” because she forgot her hairbrush and stayed up too late at a sleep-over. I feel the pressure of time and responsibility. Should I listen and console, or put my moral foot down about showing up for the team, and force her out of the car somehow? “I should know what to do and do it!” comes the pressured admonishment.
I feel judged. I’m judging myself. I feel shaken, doubtful, undermined. I’m sending myself hate mail.
What I really want in these moments is internal support, to appreciate what I AM doing, to value and back myself, to feel my judgement as a loving connected force that guides me towards living joyously.
On ANZAC Day 6 years ago, I woke early feeling deeply agitated. I felt I’d fallen into a social value-crevasse between the value of mothering, and “real work”. I was torn between the desire to have my own life, career and purpose, and my commitment to “being there” as a mother working at raising my children.
So I got up before my family could wake and sat down to sort my life out. From the mosh-pit of thoughts in my head I settled on a question to contemplate – “What can I do about this conflict in my sense of value as a mother?”
In the space of contemplation, it began to dawn on me that if I really wanted to make change I was going to have to REALLY OWN my choice to be a mother. Because in the end I chose motherhood, and I needed to embrace that fact, and make the most of this incredible opportunity to grow the best kids and the best me I could. I felt an energy surge through me. A waking up. A recognition that this was the key to unlocking my motherhood conundrum. By embracing the challenges of contemporary motherhood as learning it could be the transforming force in becoming more the person I wanted to be. More than survive motherhood, I could thrive in it. All the striving and heartache, all the aspiration and love, all the spilt milk – could make me stronger, wiser, more joyous and loving, if I approached Motherhood as path. I could live my purpose more fully not in spite of motherhood, but because of it.
Sitting there that ANZAC DAY, welling up with this epiphany, another question arose; “HOW am I going to do this?” And clear as a bell the answer came – get up off your asana and write. So I did.
Five years later Spilt Milk Yoga – a Guided Self-Inquiry to Finding your Own Wisdom, Joy, and Purpose Through Motherhood was published. It’s the book I wish I’d had when I became a mother. It’s a book I still use in my life with teenagers, because it’s not the age of our children that demands our best behaviour and calls up our worst, it’s motherhood.
The essential practice of Spilt Milk Yoga is self-inquiry. Self-inquiry makes space for us to think and feel things through, to come to know ourselves and what’s behind our unconscious responses. From there it is possible to consciously cultivate new responses.
Want to start your own self-inquiry practice?
Here’s a great place to start:
Write down 3 attributes you want to develop in yourself through being a mother.
Write down 3 messages you send yourself that get in the way of you developing these attributes.
Write down 3 messages you send yourself that assist you developing these attributes.
When you reflect on the things you’ve written above, what do you notice about even this small piece of self-inquiry?
What is one thing from this inquiry you could carry into your mothering day to help you live more freely and fully?
Have you written your answers?
Today mine were;
3 attributes I want to develop through being a mother;
- and purpose
Three messages I send myself that get in the way developing these attributes;
- I don’t know what to do
- I should have made a different choice earlier – then I would be happy
- All this navel-gazing won’t put food on the table
Three messages I send myself that assist me developing these attributes;
- Go gently as you listen for your own knowing
- This moment is a miracle
- Any inner peace and contentment I build will always be of value to me
- That my answers have changed since last time.
- The thoughts that get in the way are old, and deep-seated – and that last one isn’t even my voice!
- That even just writing down the messages that assist me strengthens them.
One thing I could carry into my mothering day to help me live more freely and fully;
- I will sit for 20 minutes meditation and feel the value of building my peace and contentment for now, today and the future.
So that’s the start of our work together.
I’m delighted to be contributing to the Happy Mama magazine, sharing stories from my own experience and the mothers I work with. I look forward to being a voice of companionship and guidance for you on your motherhood journey.
Warmest – Cathryn
Cathryn Monro is a professional artist, writer, educator, facilitator and mother of two. She rates mothering as by far the most challenging, creative, important and fulfilling of jobs. Find out more about Cathryn and her amazing book “Split Milk Yoga” here.