Strong as I need to be

I have come to a comforting realization: I will always be as strong as I need to be. La Madre taught me that.

I reckon it was long ago that I chose strength as a characteristic to help define me. Perhaps identified is a better word than chose.  Coming from Irish-Potato-Farmer-Stock, perhaps it is more an innate ability. I remember knowing back when I played field hockey that I had strength, and that I had power. It was confirmed in college and beyond each Saturday during rugby matches – I was strong and I was powerful. I know it when I pedal uphills and wait for friends at the top – the right muscles for the right activity. I value the feeling of that. I appreciate knowing that although I am not swift, and I am not graceful, I identified and nurtured the physical characteristics that I found inside my body that were blessed to me.

Sometimes (often while pregnant) I curse this body of mine. I spent 34 years developing physical strengths that are not particularly innate to the Irish-Potato-Farmer. They all seemed to abandon ship during incubation. I see other women who truly only have a ball of baby in their belly. Where are their baby-love handles, where is their baby- back fat? Oh – just me? Awesome.

When you declare to dream your life and live your dream, you have to walk that ever-present fine line of determining when to let go of your “dream”.  I dreamed of being at this stage in my second pregnancy, carrying Critter up some mountains in the backpack while Sprout up the mountain in my uterus.  At the very least, I dreamt that I could still be riding bicycles up hills. My reality is quite different, however. I can carry Critter in the backpack or Ergo, but not up any hills…and not for a terribly long time. I can ride my bike, with or without her, but again not up any hills…and not for a terribly long time. My dream me and my reality me had to work it out. La Madre stepped in to assist.

The catalyst was yoga. I’ve been practicing in the sunshine on the deck of the hot tub that will never be. It has been uber delightful and one of the best parts of my summer. I go out there while Critter naps on the days I am fortunate enough to be at home. It feels so incredible wonderful to me to have all my creaked up body parts travel through a full range of motion and be opened to the universe.  While pregnant with Critter, I continued my yoga practice up till the very end, but it was chock full of modifications. i thought that was necessary – and perhaps it was for that particular time and place. I didn’t know any other pregnant people practicing, so I did what all the websites and magazine articles said – listened to my body.  Certainly in the last trimester, I was lowering into chataranga from my knees, and moving to downward facing dog with my hands on blocks. And  I was totally okay with it. I thought it was a fabulous practice of letting my ego take a back seat and being “sweet to myself”.  In retrospect, i still think it was the right thing to do. I was maintaining as much strength as I needed.

Now is a horse-of-a-different-color. My life has completely transformed in these last 14 months. I need to be stronger now than I was then. I have a pile of challenges to face that simply cannot be tackled by being “sweet to myself”.  Yes, I am still pregnant…but now I am in the middle of running a summer camp for children (and parents) with unique and time consuming needs. I am managing a staff of 35 who also each demand a piece of me to get their needs met. I am raising an incredible little Critter who had a fever of 103.8 last week and a heartbreaking little cough and snotty sneezes. I am being a partner to my husband both at work and at home. I am facing impending unemployment in a few short months. I have a hernia, and some crazy sacrum situation that is excruciating from time to time…and I want to eat ice cream everyday – i don’t – i just want to.

A few weeks ago, while practicing yoga on the back deck, is when it occured to me that La Madre is working to keep the situation under control. While I am mumbling frustrations about my frumpy, stocky build, she is out there embracing it. She flows through sun salutations without a single modification. She adds extra vinyasas into her practice to remind herself that she can. She raises into a headstand as often as possible, and doesn’t give up trying just because it doesn’t happen every day.

36 weeks pregnant

She has a goal…she is working to develop grace. She takes this opportunity to sort through the pile of challenges laid before her by using her gifts and abilities. Each day, she takes a deep breath, bows as gracefully as a potato-farmer can to the sunshine, and says “I am STRONG, and I am POWERFUL”. And then she heads out to tackle…

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