I just finished reading the book, Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses. My friend Lia, over at The Little Cafe at the End of the World was doing a virtual book club on it. I can’t rave about it enough! It is full of magical personal insights, so it reads like a self-help book, but it’s as entertaining as the best non-fiction. That is probably the definition of a memoir, now that I think about it, ha!
I was talking to my friend Lindsey, the other day about self-help books and she said she is not the kind of person that likes to sit down with that kind of book, that it is laborious for her to get through them. For me, reading self-help and health books is like popping candy in my mouth. I love it, it’s relaxing for me, and I barrel through them. In fact, I was talking to another friend of mine recently, Molly, telling her about some new fact I had just read, and she turned to me and said, “where do you find this information?! You just know so much!” I thought about it for a moment, and realized, I just really love to read. And I am a fast reader, always have been.
But if you are not like me, Poser, is an easy, fun read. It’s one of those books, where because you bought it to be a relaxing, read-in-the-tub kind of book, you sort of feel like a train hit you, because it starts unraveling some deep seated beliefs about yourself. It is also the best introductory explanation of yoga poses and history I have ever read.
The book is a classic female hero’s journey. If you don’t know what a hero’s journey is, I highly recommend devouring Pam England’s blog. She will blow your mind. Read it all, every single post. Her blog is like my weekly multi-vitamin for my scattered and mended heart, my Sunday Service.
Claire Dederer, is a crunchy, AP, Seattle, new mom trying to do everything absolutely perfect, in order to consider her self good.
This book made me self reflect on so many things and one of them is this concept of what exactly it means to be a good mother. I have visited this concept before, when I was doing my advanced Birthing From Within training but that was over 5 years ago and I wasn’t a mother yet.
I grew up with what I consider to be a bad mother, she is a good person, just not a good mother. And I know that much of the choices I have made in my parenting style, have been to live up to the internal guidelines I have set up for myself of what makes a good mother, based on everything she was not.
For example, for me and my awesomely loud inner judge, a good mother nurses her baby on demand and self weans. Can you imagine my inner turmoil when I was not given the opportunity to do that? I had a personal belief system that if I did not nurse, I was a Fuck. Up. And thus, I had to re-shift my thinking of what constitutes being a good mother for me. I am reiterating the for me part, because I am talking about how I judge myself, not other mothers.
I learned long ago it’s not a good idea to judge other mothers for their choices, or judge anyone for that matter. I always say that the specific way in which we parent our children does not matter, only that we bring unconditional love to each moment with them.
So since I couldn’t nurse, the next best thing for a “good mother” to do, is do everything she possibly can to get her baby to nurse. A good mother does not give up and throw in the towel, a good mother pumps her brains out and does not supplement with formula. The list went on and on and on. And I did not deviate. I stayed on the course, the inner judge whipping me back in line whenever needed, and dammit, by 5 months I got Penelope to nurse.
Then I realized that my list of what makes a good mother is much longer than my birthing and feeding choices. A good mother makes clothes from scratch! She makes food from things she grew herself in her garden and then makes a meal from scratch! Hell, even makes laundry detergent from scratch! She also works out 5 days a week AND does yoga. She does yoga with her child too. She cloth diapers and makes chicken stock from bones from a $30 chicken that she drove 4 hours round trip to go buy straight from a farmer because organic chicken from the natural food store is not good enough.
After reading this book, I began to take stock of how much I do, not only because it’s healthy or the right thing to do, but because it makes me feel like I am GOOD. The energy it takes to try and be good is EXHAUSTING.
Now, I am not saying that I am going to change anything about what I am doing (because then what the hell would I blog about?) but from here on out, I am giving myself a little break if I don’t meet my perfect internal standards.
As Claire wrote in her book:
FUCK IT. Get over yourself. You are going to fuck up. And it will be OK.
What a breath of fresh air. It was like she just gave me a hall pass for motherhood. And so I give it you. Give yourself a pat on the back, you are doing great! Even if you are not growing your own damn food and making your own damn laundry detergent and nursing your baby 24/7. You are awesome and good just as you are.