Conversations with new mama friends of mine have me returning to thoughts of the early days of motherhood. Finn’s first birthday is also approaching, which causes me to cast my mind back.
Coming into motherhood requires quite the reckoning with your self-identity. It’s no longer so easy to take off to this music festival or that overnight trip. Life has changed and it’s okay to find that adjustment difficult, to struggle in the shaking off of that part of your independent self.
Doing so is doubly hard during summertime. During last year’s heat with a fragile new baby, I struggled with my seasonal urges to get out and frolic in the way the season typically demands us to do.
Summer is a season of fruitfulness, vibrancy, colour, heat and sensuality. Days of scorching sun abound, and bring memories of juicy strawberries, the zing of lemonade or sangria best enjoyed near a body of water, lazy afternoons spent reading in a hammock, and in general time spent out of doors. The season of life associated with summer is early adulthood, as season of fertility. It is a season of play and enjoyment.
Urgings to give into the pleasures of the season often conflict with the responsibilities of new motherhood.
Here are a few ways you can blossom with the season as you also flourish into motherhood.
Practice Yoga –
There are so many benefits to practicing yoga, the doles of which I’m only beginning to learn. After just one visit to the studio, I return noticeably different: more aware of my muscles and movements, confident in my own strength and ability, focused and clear of mind. Not to mention, to me, there isn’t much more sensual than a woman who checks in with her body enough to challenge its movement and then revels in the response. Plus, yoga is spiritual in practice, and it will aid in the release of those sticky feelings, anxieties and perhaps traumas from the birth experience, which will lead you to a happier, more peaceful state.
Drink water –
The benefits of drinking water abound and doing so regularly is the best practice you can have for your health, especially during these warm weather months. Drinking water increases energy and relieves fatigue, promotes weight loss, flushes out toxins, improves skin complexion, maintains regular bowel health, boots your immune system, is a natural headache remedy, and prevents cramps and sprains – just to name a few! In our home we filter our water, but you might also want to try alkaline water, which has a higher pH level, and is believed to neutralize the acids in the body. Add a slice or two of lemon or a drop of lemon essential oil for a detoxifying and uplifting effect.
Eat Colourfully –
Summer is the best time to access a variety of colourful fruit and veggies, making meals much more exciting. The vibrancy of the colour translates into nutrient-rich foods, and since we tend to be more active during the summer, it goes that we need more to sustain our energy levels. Besides, who doesn’t love looking down at a rainbow of colour on their plate. Buying local is the best way to take advantage of seasonal produce. Head to a farmer’s market or stand in lieu of visiting the supermarket. This allows you to chat with the farmers, ask about the pesticides and practices used, and learn about the growing season or any other anecdotal notes and knowledge that only farmers can share. The closer we are to knowing where our food grows, the greater the connection between the act of eating and nature.
Cultivating a space in which to bear food is the perfect metaphor for this season of our life. Tend to your garden as you will yourself this summer – when you can and when the babe allows. It’s incredible how both you and your garden will flourish with even the smallest of gestures.
Spend time outdoors –
Of all seasons, the warm days of summer are the most encouraging for getting outdoors. It’s hard to resist the draw of the summer sunshine, the flicker of leaves in the warm breeze, the laughter of children at the beach or splash pad, the hum of boat motors on the lake, the hypnotizing sound of crickets at night that cause us to linger in the fresh air and fading sun. Anxieties lessen, minds clear, and happiness is infectious when in nature; this is true for both mother and babe. Challenge yourself to take babe on an adventure in nature at least once each day and see where you end up. I just participated in a #MiniandMamaAdventure challenge on Instagram hosted by Alaskan mamas @northcountrylittles, @brookefield, and @pearlsonastringblog and found an incredible global community of adventuring mamas as a result.
Meet the neighbours –
These days we spend so much of our time engaging with devices, we suffer from social isolation without seeming to realize it. We are social creatures by nature, and a simple conversation with a neighbor or even short visit with a friend can boost our morale enormously. Strike a balance, to be sure, but try not to fall into too many days of isolation at home alone with baby. Reconnect in person, rather than online.
Express creativity –
Summer is a time when creativity planted in spring comes to fruition – so express it! Learn pottery, paint, colour meditatively in adult colouring books, sit on the porch with grandma sipping lemonade and learning a skill – preserving, knitting, crocheting, rug braiding, basket weaving – anything! Have fun discovering the magic you have within yourself to express.
Be naked! –
Find every opportunity to strip down this season, save for public exhibitionism, in celebration of your body and all that it does to grow, birth, comfort and perhaps nourish your baby. Much of my days and nights are spent with a baby attached, which makes the burden of extra clothing tiresome. Shed the pajamas this season and sleep in the nude. Dash into the lake sans the suit. If the opportunity (and the privacy allows) lounge in the sun in the nude to soak up the vitamin D and warm rays. Enjoy the sensuality of it. I know your partner will.
Spend time under the stars –
Naked? Why not! With babe in arms? That’s ok too! Get under the light of the moon and stars any way you can. Doing so will help you to connect with the cycles of the moon. Also, this is an ideal time to reconnect with your partner. Gazing into the stars has a way of putting those trivial things that consume us into perspective. Feeling the enormity of the universe above you, and the dark intimacy of the night holds the power to wash away the harsh words said earlier out of exhaustion.
Be intentional about this season by finding small delights in the everyday. The world is abuzz and blooming all around you and with so much to find joy in, celebrate how alive you are and the world around you is. Women themselves embody new life and creation, and as such this is our season to blossom and grow. Make room in motherhood for that.
In search of a slice of summer, we biked to a nearby market to buy some watermelon. Here are some photos from earlier today.