A mantra for mamas: ‘It’s safe to let the love get bigger’

Indian Mother Hugging Toddler On Bed mantra for mamas

After a sleepless night of teething and tears, and the frustration of the baby weight still not coming off, my sorceress soul sister Lulu comforts me over the phone: “Alice, once they turn two, it’s like you emerge from the ocean back onto dry land, covered in seaweed, smelling like plankton, and exclaiming, Holy shit, I made it!”

My god, is she right! These last two years, I have been deep-sea diving. Learning the art form of being Arjan’s mama and discovering myself in a post-birth body, navigating “mom brain,” and my heart both beating inside my chest and toddling outside of my body.

Mothering is a daily, moment-to-moment spiritual practice—a “carry water, chop wood kind of practice”—nursing Arjan while simultaneously blocking his karate kicks, enduring pterodactyl screeching diaper changes, sticky fingers and floors, punctuated with heart-melting moments like when he presses his tiny palm into his chest and says, “I’m a sweetheart,” or sings along to “Wild Thing! You make my heart sing!”

I think of Arjan as a master teacher of stretching. Daily, I grow and expand as I learn the Olympic sport of being his mother. My patience and maturity are tested over and over again, and throughout it, I hear his soul laughing, “You better get bigger, Mama.”

When he turns on the bathtub for the eighth time that day and throws my makeup brushes in the water, when he scrubs the sink drain with my toothbrush, or when we have listened to his favorite song, “Domine,” for the twenty-sixth time and he pleads to hear it again, claiming that if he doesn’t this world will end, I can see in his copper-colored eyes his fierce spirit challenging my edges, saying, “Mama, stretch some more.”

Or after five days of the flu, his fever spikes back up to 103.5 with his nose completely plugged, and we are skin to skin on the floor of the bathroom in the dark as the hot water steams up the room. That feeling of panic and presence—how nothing else in the world matters but his nose opening just a bit so he can eat, his body can relax and the rise and fall of his belly can get just a little bit bigger.

Or at night, when I kiss his curly, sandy, golden locks and he whispers with his raspy voice, “I love you Mama,” and pats me on the back—this stretching is the most challenging of all. To be with the raw joy of life, to feel the powerful waves of his love crashing against the sea cliff edges of my heart, to feel them hitting the places where at times in my life it didn’t feel safe to love—I feel him whisper as if he is the ocean itself, “It’s okay to let my love all the way in Mama. It’s safe to let the love get bigger.”

As I share these stories I am tenderly aware of the single mamas and papas, parents working two or more jobs, families going through custody battles, parents with sick children, babes in the NICU, parents who have lost children, children who are an ocean apart, women who desire to have more children while mourning and letting go of their moon, to the parents-to-be longing to meet their baby.

I am confounded by the ache, the grief, the beauty, the longing woven into the fabric of our collective human experience. How each of us is asked to expand beyond what we thought was possible to our sensitive heart. I bow to each of us and this tender, vulnerable path. To the sheer guts and devotion it takes to be a human as my warrior, mother-heart, soul sister Ama says “while life lives itself through us.”

My invitation for you this season is to get curious and look at the places where life is walking you right up to your edge and whispering: “Get bigger.” I believe sharing our stories can help us heal, and my prayer, as we share our lives together on this spinning sapphire ball, is that we heal. And from this healing, we love.

Thank you for receiving.