Because of you, I live.

I keep this photo to remember your small frame, newly walking legs. I keep this photo to remember the few words that gurgled out from your lips, the firsts: “dada, mama, ball, and delicious.” I keep this photo in my favorites album, with each new device, this is one of the few that transfers. I keep this photo because it represents the beauty of motherhood and the despairs of depression. I keep this photo to glance back, once or maybe twice a year. I keep this photo for importance, to not be the face of darkness, but coming in to the light.
This was a time where life pulled me to my knees, occasionally keeping me to my sheets. This is the time I began to really connect with my yoga practice. This is the time I was digging the nail beds into the earth, at times wishing to sink and other times wishing to claw. I think of this time incredibly hard, yet unmistakably beautiful. This photo represents a moment between you and me, both of reflection in pain and joy. I do believe you can have the weight of the world and yet, somehow, feel on top of it too. I do believe you can feel the juxtaposition of every emotion, all at once. To feel so much happiness even in the darkest of days. I know this well, because I’ve lived here for a time. I will always keep this photo to remember that time.
This photo of me blowing you air kisses as my shins lift you to take flight. I hope you know you lifted me in ways I cannot express. I hope you know you are my greatest teacher. I hope you know that you are always loved, always lifted, always supported, and always a gift. You came in to this world as the biggest surprise, through a beautiful storm, a beautiful mess, a life as the message. I love you more than you know. Remembering here, this moment, to know how far we’ve come. Because of you, I live. #holymotherhood

stephanie birch

not another playground story

A few weeks ago, while at the playground, a little girl pushed my son down the slide. After scooting off, he runs over to me asking me to tell her not to do it again. I didn’t. Part of me, of course, wanted to go over to the little girl (or her parent) and give words. I had to pause and redirect the moment to teach B how to stand up for himself and set boundaries. I realized that he’s growing up in a one-child household. There’s no sibling/s tugging at his shirt, taking his toys, interrupting his speech, or pulling for attention. I grew up in a house, oldest of 5, and learned how to navigate peers and tough situations at home. 
Part of his questioning, rather confusion, about this scenario had to do with why someone would push him down a slide in the first place offering he would never want to hurt someone by pushing them down. And to that, I couldn’t offer an explanation. I could only guide in preparation for the next go ‘round when someone isn’t kind or loving to him. 
I know people say, “ kids will be kids.” Yes, that’s true, but kids also learn from you, their parents/guardians, and everyone around them. I think the thing about parenting is not only to teach but also respect your child. It’s so simple but it often goes missed. As parents, we are pros at tuning out, getting agitated, and sometimes the craze of it all crashes and burns right in the middle of dinner. I’ve definitely been “that mom” having my own melt down at the dinner table. 
This incident, and many more to come, made me realize, how often do we, as adults, not respect our children? When they want to be heard, or stop tickling them, or help them, or ignore their tiredness or hunger, or not to touch his hair (that’s a big one for B). They learn so much when they’re heard, when they feel respected, loved and supported in their own right.
Heck, how often do we, as adults, not teach other adults about our own boundaries? How often have we let people slide, or shrink ourselves, or hide away parts of ourselves? Maybe it’s because we’ve been conditioned our entire lives to be less-than, that our words don’t matter, and respect is considered fluid. 
Unlearn anything unloving. Love now, new.

toes in my face

Hello, motherhood. Living and loving this moment right here is the only thing that matters. One day you’ll stop climbing me, wriggling your feet, squeezing limbs, and tugging at my shirt. I can feel my future heart shatter so I can keep this moment. I capture this moment so I can remember your toes in my face. I capture this moment to remember my wrinkles. I capture this moment to look back with tears and laughter. I capture this moment for now and for our future selves. I capture this moment to remember, collect, and hold on.

stephynow

today in body aches and shakes

Today.
Body aches and shakes. The hum in my ears and fuzz in my head leaves me feeling unstable and out of whack. The sinus pressure has me feeling slightly nauseous as gravity is cementing me to stay low. My son leans in with oatmeal breath, head pats and extended kisses. We will eat in bed. Watch movies. We will patiently wait for his dad to come home to complete the trio and remove the crayoned “X” propped against the front door.
Everyday, our 4 year old scrolls a fresh “X” to mark a reminder for everyone to stay home. Everyday, he asks if it’s a family day. Everyday, we set aside the colorful signage with slight heartbreak calling passions outside the home. Everyday, he reminds us the importance of presence. Everyday, doing what you love takes a tug at his little heart. Everyday, he pulls at one parent or the other to stay home proclaiming we read the signage at the door. Everyday, we do our best to balance. Everyday, he teaches us.
And today becomes a stay-in-and-do-nothing-day. I may have to change the sheets to mask our food crumbs relieving evidence of breaking the no-food-in-the-big-bed rule. With minimal play with movie marathons in days old pajama-wearing. Right now the sun is shining in and I caught the light in my palm. This moment is important. These words serve to remind. 
Everyday, I’m BEing my best, the best I know how. And everyday, you are BEing your best, the best you know how.
Loving is easy. Even when life hands you some hard stuff or when people become hardened, love them anyway. Let it be as simple as that. Let it travel up walls and knock on your neighbor’s door and grace the stranger passing on the street. Love through and through.
Love comes easy, if you let it. 

stephynow

go inside. go the fuck inside.

your only choice in life is to feel. how long will you run? how long can you hide? when do you stop blaming? when does responsibility step in? are you here to pretend or are you here to get real? be real. it's the feeling-body that shows us to get really-real. fuck that fake shit. 
Go inside.
The moment you begin to judge someone, go inside.
The moment you want to blame someone, go inside.
The moment you want to react toward someone, go inside.
The moment you want to give the stink eye, huff, growl, hair flip, whatever-have-you, go inside.
The moment you begin to feel some density with someone - pissed off, angry, low, flustered, whatever it is, go the fuck inside.
And realize this. 
Your reaction to anyone, anything - especially when it starts to drive a force of judgment, blame, competition, jealousy, anger, or anything that leaves you in a hot, heady, heated space - go inside. This is information. It is tapping you on the shoulder saying, “hey, there is something going on that you need to take a look at.” Life is requesting your attention to notice your thoughts, your patterns, your beliefs, your behaviors, your actions and what you need to dig into - for yourself.
So often we want to blame others or find safety in victim-hood. So often we prefer to numb our ways. The moment we begin to feel, is the moment we want to bow out. It takes place on the yoga mat as much as it takes place in our life. The body wants to move through the heavy shit. It’s the mind, the ego, that wants to knit such heaviness to banter this life and our relationships. When you really go inside with yourself, especially on the mat, you’ll have no choice but to feel. We numb so much in our lives, especially pain. When we numb pain, we numb everything else. You cannot ignore one part of your life, without ignoring all of your life. It is all connected, supported, and woven. 
Often times I will tell students to feel it out, let stuff come up, get shaky, sit in the uncomfortable, feel what is real. If you’re smiling through it, awesome. If you’re hating through it, awesome. If you want to curse at me, I can take it. Because what is true is that everything you feel and all the gooey stuff that comes up has absolutely nothing to do with me (or others). The goal is to feel. My job, as a teacher, is to help you get there and simply guide you to go inside.

 

stephynow