5 Easy Ways to Exercise Grace Today
I see you Mama.
Pregnant in a pandemic.
Working from home.
Struggling with immense Mommy Guilt as you tell your toddler “No” for the 500th time today, plopping him back in front of the TV -knowingly full well he’s getting entirely too much screen time- because “Mommy has things to do!”
I see you because I am you.
But remember Mama, this moment is fleeting, it is temporary, and “this too shall pass.”
That’s why this year, I’m making the deliberate choice to give myself some grace.
I had my first son three years ago and am currently expecting my second any day now. In 2017 I was excited to be a new mommy and was embracing my pregnancy and looking forward to sporting my ‘Mommy tiara’ proudly. I was working full-time in a job I enjoyed and leading a run club on the weekends. I was healthy, happy, and ready for this new adventure. I had big plans to embrace mommy-hood and bounce back quickly with my running regime and a healthy breastfeeding diet. But those plans were merely plans, and sometimes plans change.
I was lucky to have a mild pregnancy with no major complications, however my son was breech and the cord was wrapped around his neck so my delivery ultimately resulted in an emergency C-Section.
Thanks to western modern medicine my baby boy came out perfect and all seemed right with the world. After coming home from the hospital, mentally I was adjusting well, but physically my body had been through the ringer.
I could feel my organs sloshing around in my midsection, desperately trying to find their way back into their respective homes. Several weeks post-delivery my C-section scar started splitting open, and after being referred to a Wound-Care Specialist, I found out I had suffered from an allergic reaction to the stitches that were used to sew my midsection back together.
Slowly my body began ejecting stitches one-by-one, which resulted in an extensive recovery period that carried on well past my maternity leave and return to the office. I was working full-time, pumping at work, navigating the emotions, challenges and set backs of being a new mommy, and having to deal with a body that wasn’t completely back together. It was hard!
Later that year I had to undergo two additional surgeries (unrelated to my C-section wound.) All of this took a major toll on my body. It ended up being nearly a year and three months before I could return to the gym or perform a variety of basic household tasks unassisted.
I watched other new moms on Instagram show off their post-baby, beach-ready bodies after complaining about having to wait ‘a whole three months’ to return to the gym. I felt like a mangled mess and my pre-baby goals no longer aligned with my reality. It wasn’t a pleasant year, but I got through it and I learned a lot.
Despite my best abilities to plan and prepare for baby’s arrival, my recovery had taken longer and been a lot harder than I could have ever anticipated. I felt like a complete failure and I felt helpless to change my circumstances, after all, you can’t rush recovery. But after the fog of year one wore off, I was able to see something much clearer that I couldn’t see before. There was something I could control.
This pregnancy I made the commitment early-on to extend myself some grace. After confirming baby #2 was on the way, my husband and I weighed and discussed whether I should return to work this time around. Accepting “you can’t know, what you don’t know,” I gave myself the freedom to take more time to figure out life as a mommy of two. Following baby’s delivery I won’t be rushing back to work and I’ll be stepping into the role of Stay at Home Mom for a currently undefined amount of time. I’m thankful that my husband and I are financially in the position to do so, but am also aware that facing a pandemic means nothing is permanent.
I’m fully prepared to embrace this moment in time, however long it may last, and I’m accepting and acknowledging that it may be incredibly hard. But I’m giving myself time to breathe and learn, because that is something I can control. Just as I couldn’t have anticipated the complications I experienced following my first pregnancy, this pregnancy has come at a time where we all are experiencing unanticipated challenges. Now, even more than ever, we all deserve to extend ourselves a little grace.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary has several definitions for grace, but these are my favorites:
1 : unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification
Unmerited. You don’t have to earn it, you don’t even have to deserve it, but it is there for your regeneration.
2 : disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
This one is simple. It means changing your attitude to show yourself some kindness and compassion.
3 : a temporary exemption : reprieve
Consider this your “Get out of Jail Free” card. Allow yourself permission to take some time out!
4 : the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful
You are worthy and you owe it to yourself to be mindful and attentive to what you are feeling. It’s ok to feel crummy, it’s ok to feel joyful, but you’re not required to accept those emotions. Just recognizing that you have the right to feel them is enough.
So How Can We Apply Grace? Trust me, I’m not here to put another To-Do on your already exhaustive list; I promise to keep it simple.
- Give Yourself a Break
Take a deep breath and stop playing the blame game. You can’t control all things all the time and no one expects you to, so stop putting unnecessary pressure and stress on yourself.
- Show Yourself a Little Kindness
Take a shower, paint your nails, throw on some lip gloss, read a book, binge-watch a TV show, or spend an extra minute soaking in that new baby smell after you give your child a bath. Try to find one easy and simple thing that makes you happy and Do it!
- Time outs aren’t just for Toddlers
Whether it’s taking a personal day from work, taking a day off from the kids, going for a specialty coffee run, leaving the laundry for tomorrow, or just going for a walk around the block, allow yourself a moment to escape responsibility and recharge.
- Mindfulness Matters
You don’t need to meditate or purchase a crystal to be mindful. Just take a deep breath and own the moment. Accept that you are entitled to your emotions and recognize that you also have the power to change them if you so choose. You are the boss of You; Take Control.
So next time you find yourself thinking “I should have figured this out by now!” STOP! Recognize that you are navigating the extremely difficult task of raising a human(s) with no instruction manual. This job is going to be hard. Don’t expect it to be a walk in the park. Stop placing unnecessary blame, pressure, and stress on yourself to meet unattainable goals with unrealistic deadlines. Plan all you want but be prepared for plans to change. Take the time to evaluate, adjust, and adapt in order to see what you can control vs. what you can’t. 2020 has thrown us a lot of curveballs and there are probably more on the way. But if there’s one thing you can do today, it should be to Give Yourself Some Grace.
About Kristin Merron
Kristin Merron is a boy-mom of two, William (3) and Benjamin (newborn), who resides in Carrollton, TX with her husband Matt. Originally from Chicago, IL she moved to Dallas, TX in 2011. She has a professional background in Communications and has worked as a full-time mom, a part-time mom, a work-from-home mom, and is now navigating life as a stay-at-home mom. She joined CECPTA in November 2019 and is part of the PURPLE and RED playgroups. When not quarantining from a global pandemic she enjoys travel, exploring new places in and around DFW with her kids, having date-night with her husband at the movies, playing board games with friends, and seeking out the best burger and queso at any number of area restaurants.