Aligning with Your Truth
Three years into being a mom, I was drowning. I had two daughters, was working full time and running a household. Life felt like the proverbial hamster wheel. Wake up, rush to make it to everything on time, work a full day, pick up kids, cook dinner, clean up, bath time, bedtime, rinse and repeat. I felt like everything had to be perfect all the time. That included a clean house and well-adjusted kids who ate only healthy meals; all while presenting a happy image to those around me. I don’t think I took a full breath for three years, until it all boiled over and I found myself completely lost, depressed and anxious.
I started to explore a yoga and meditation practice and everything changed for me. It sounds so simple, but once I learned how to be present and breathe, I learned how to control and manage my stress. I learned about myself so much through this process, including what my boundaries were and what kind of mother I wanted to be (not the one society determined for me).
For the first time as a mom, I felt confident, content and – most importantly – happy.
With all of that came a gratitude practice. I like to describe gratitude as honing in on the good, and I truly believe that when you look for it, there are always things to be grateful for. Gratitude is not meant to be perfect, but it is keeping perspective through the ups and downs in life. It’s ok to have bad days, it’s ok that things fall through the cracks and it’s ok to vent your frustrations. There is no insurance that protects against really hard things but looking for the good in any of those situations is what makes it all a beautiful life.
My gratitude practice started with journaling what I was grateful for each day, in very specific ways. For example, I wouldn’t write “I am grateful for my kids” I would write “I am grateful that my daughter and I really connected at dinner tonight.” Being specific about what you are grateful for really makes you look for the good in any situation. The day might have come with mistakes and losses, but I try to remind myself of the wins. The silver linings, if you will.
Even better, when you start to look for gratitude, life gives you more to be grateful for.
I was never more grateful for having this perspective in my life than a little over two years ago. In October 2019, my husband and I learned that our fourth daughter would be born with Down syndrome and had a significant heart defect that would require open heart surgery in infancy. It would be easy to get caught up in the “why me?” part of learning that information, but I quite honestly only cared about my daughter surviving. She was my daughter, no matter how many chromosomes she had or whether her heart was imperfect or not.
Rhea was born in March of 2020 and joined big sisters Sofia, Layla and Genevieve to complete our family of six. That June, she had a successful repair of her heart and has been thriving ever since. Rhea is a healthy, happy girl. She has taught me to take the lens off of motherhood and enjoy each and every moment, in an even bigger way than before. It’s a perspective I wish I had in those first days of motherhood.
I am grateful for each day that we all have together and focus on our small wins rather than the grandiose ones.
My upcoming book, Ups, Downs and Silver Linings is a collection of life’s experiences from Down syndrome, motherhood, loss and many things in between. What I hope readers find throughout are the silver linings no matter the situation, because there are always things to be grateful for.