Today I’m delighted to welcome a guest author: Kara-Leah Grant, yoga publisher, editor, writer, speaker, teacher, and creator of The Yoga Lunchbox. Enjoy!
New Year’s Eve packed a powerful punch for me this year – I broke up with my partner of three and half years two days earlier.
It was two weeks before our son’s first birthday.
So it’s a brand new challenge for me, this single-mothering gig.
In some ways, it doesn’t feel too different from what it was like parenting when my partner Luke and I were together.
Ever since Samuel was three months old, I’d had weeks where it was just the two of us, either because I’d left or because Luke was off doing something somewhere.
During the break-up period, I spent four weeks alone with Samuel, at my Mum’s. Which is hardly alone, nor solo parenting. Mum is brilliant – she’d whisk Samuel off for a walk every day, take night duties, entertain him in the mornings so I could get some much-needed rest and otherwise make herself indispensable.
So I’ve got the rhythm down pat with Samuel, and I count my blessings because he’s a very easy child. Plus I get breaks when Luke takes him for a weekend, or even just an afternoon.
Yet still, solo parenting is a different challenge. It is full-on every single day. You’re totally committed to the needs and demands of your child. Everything is more difficult to do.
For example. Food shopping has to be timed perfectly so Samuel is in the best possible mood – rested, fed, changed and smiling. It has to be fast so he doesn’t get restless confined to the shopping cart.
Plus unloading the car becomes all about strategy – hiking child on one hip and two shopping bags in the spare hand up the zig zag path to our house. Installing child in high chair with something tasty to nibble on, playing a game of peek-a-boo on the way out the door that gets longer and longer between peeks & boos… and then sprinting down to the car to hustle up as many bags as possible in one hit and get back before child gets freaked out at being left alone in the house.
Which he doesn’t, much. He’s catching on to our rhythms too. He’s still napping a couple of times a days, giving me respite to practice yoga, read a book, and plan how I’m going to earn money. Plus he goes down to sleep at 7pm most nights without a peep.
Yet now it’s been two months since our separation, I can feel a shift in my energies. Hiding away in first Glenorchy (population 250) and now Paekakariki (population 2000) has been perfect for the feeling and healing work that needed to accompany this relationship transformation. But I’m now getting to the stage where the Leo in me feels caged. The lion is restless and pacing and almost starting to roar!
It’s a subtle feeling I didn’t catch on to at first. Lurking in my unconscious it surfaced as less patience with Samuel. A feeling of wanted to shout ‘No!’ at him when he opened the cupboard under the sink for the tenth time that day. A desire to clamp down the sides of his high chair when he slams back and forth in it, delighting in the movement and noise and scream ‘Stop doing that!’.
This urges aren’t fully formed yet. They’re like shadows of words that flicker past my consciousness, and dissolve in the light of day. I’m aware of them though, I note them with interest. And I store them away in the corner of my mind dedicated to Mindfulness.
‘Hmmm, wonder what that’s about?’
This morning, after my morning meditation – flavoured as always by chortles and giggles and frustrated yelps from a two foot high tornado that whirls around my steady seated pose – I did as I always did, and choose a tarot card from a Vision Quest Deck.
The card was Oppression.
Not a ‘nice’ card, it’s the Ten of Wands, and depicts a ying and yang symbol hidden between inter-crossed wands.
Staring at the card, still in the moments of my meditation, wanting to reject the message of the card because I didn’t want to be having that experience… I realised that was exactly the underlying current of my hidden feelings right now.
I was feeling oppressed.
Oppressed by having to take care of Samuel.
Oppressed because I can’t launch into the many projects percolating in my creativity with the gusto I’d like.
Oppressed because looking after Samuel and being unable to step into my Public World Self means my ability to earn money and therefore our freedom is also curtailed.
I feel like a racehorse standing at the gates waiting for the whistle to blow. Only everybody’s gone home and there’s no one left to blow the whistle. I might not even get to run my race.
Which is a load of old hooey of course. I will get to run my race, and I will have a blast doing it. For now though, I’m aware that I need to bring all these feelings of oppression into the light of day.
This is especially important because I’ve already noticed that any feelings I don’t completely acknowledge and allow to move through me, Samuel expresses for me.
If I’m feel oppressed and don’t know it, he starts acting like he’s got way too much energy for his environment and needs to get out.
Which is what I noticed him doing yesterday. And of course, his hyper-energy feeds into my oppression because it demands more energy from me which part of me doesn’t want to give…
And wham bam thank you ma’am, we have a Situation. Which would be so easy to blame on Samuel – what’s wrong with him, why’s he so damn difficult right now, what should I do?
This is totally the wrong approach of course. The true solution comes in asking myself, what emotions is Samuel expressing right now and are those same emotions being suppressed in me?
Then the solution starts with me.
A ha! I feel like I’ve got way too much energy for my environment right now… so what to do, what to do?
And that’s where I got to this morning. Just acknowledging the true nature of my feelings, with no ambiguity or reluctance or fears about being a bad mum, starts me on the path to action.
Action #1 was processed those feeling, which I do by writing. You’re reading the result.
Action #2 just came to me as a result of the processing.
I need to dance.
Always my way to dispel excess energy ever since I was about ten years old, dancing rocks my world. So as soon as I finish this, I’m putting on Madonna, and I’m bustin’ a serious move.
Action #3 is getting out of the house with Samuel and going on an adventure – good for both him and me.
Action #4 is recognising that there is a time and a place for everything. Samuel will never be 13 months again, and I so love spending time with him, showing him the world, diving into his world.
Simple gratitude for the magic of this never-to-be-repeated time shifts any tiny pockets of resistance to what simply is.
And that folks, is how I go about processing my days – using meditation, tarot, mindfulness and noticing what my child mirrors back to me – so I can remain in a state of balance, clarity and groundedness.
‘Tis simple work really, but oh so powerful.
Welcome to the world of conscious parenting.
About Kara-Leah Grant
Kara-Leah’s the creator of The Yoga Lunchbox,, mother to a toddler and living a damn fine life in the beautiful isles of Aotearoa. She writes a regular column on the conscious life of a yogini called Musings from the Mat.