Telling Her Story: Sarah, Mom to Jonah (almost 3) and Jacob (5 months)
You know those certain people you meet where you just want to keep talking to them, where the conversation feels effortless and endlessly interesting, thought-provoking, and soul-affirming? That’s how I feel about Sarah.
Many folks already know Sarah from her fearlessly honest and frequently hilarious Instagram account. I am constantly blown away by Sarah’s ability to use social media to honor herself and to inspire others without jumping on the bandwagon of portraying the perfectly curated profile. She is REAL in a way that I myself often feel too afraid to be.
Sarah has two young boys and her Instagram is full of heartfelt posts about the ups and the downs of parenthood, currently chronicling the early season of a new baby’s life when your body and time are not quite your own. I wish I had had an account like hers to follow when I was going through my fourth trimester with my first baby, instead of all the perfect mom profiles I tortured myself with. I can’t help but wonder how much better I might have felt, knowing I was not alone in the struggles, the exhaustion, the impossible dichotomy that is being a mother.
As most mothers can attest to, the experience of your first baby versus any subsequent babies is often incomparably different. After having my second, I remember assuring Sarah that if and when she would have her second, it would be different, better, easier, if only because it wouldn’t be a brand new experience. With Jonah, her first, Sarah’s postpartum anxiety made her desperate to control him and everything to do with him. She obsessed about it all, from his sleep schedule to what he was putting in his mouth, constantly pushing against him until she realized - you cannot control your baby.
This attempt to control that which you cannot control only fueled her anxiety and left Sarah feeling frozen. Everything felt difficult - washing her face, leaving the house, getting any work done. Pushing so hard against the grain left her feeling miserable and trapped.
With Jacob, her second, she made a conscious choice to be looser. “I decided that I will happily take the easier path, especially when it comes to feeding and sleeping,” she says with deep clarity and certainty. For the time being, this means contact naps and nursing Jacob to sleep, which allows everyone in the family to get more sleep. Sarah’s also realized that in releasing the need to force things to be a certain way, she is actually able to enjoy the seemingly little moments like bath time and being alone with the baby in a quiet room. Where there was once stress, anxiety, and fear, there is now joy and a growing confidence as a mom of two.
Sarah says the biggest parenting challenge right now is the split - figuring out how to allocate herself to which child in a given moment. Having more than one child, there’s no avoiding going back and forth between each of them. Naturally, the baby is often the one who needs her more urgently, which means she has to accept that her older one will be upset while he waits. In these moments, Sarah applies her yoga - she aims to be as present and as grounded as she can be in whatever it is she is doing. If she’s with the baby, she focuses her attention on him, on being in the room with him, feeling her body on the floor, connecting her breath with his. Instead of letting herself get worked up with worry, she tells herself that her older child is fine and safe, whether with his dad or another loved one, and that while he may be crying, she can trust that he is taken care of and okay.
Halfway through our conversation, as if intentionally planned to validate this point of trusting others, when Sarah asked her husband if she needed to nurse the baby, he told her that he had already fed him with the expressed milk that was in the fridge. Hilariously, he also showed Sarah something off-camera to which she nonchalantly asked, “Is that dog puke or the baby’s poop?”
As much as Sarah makes me laugh, she also often brings me to tears with her vulnerability and unapologetic self-acceptance. We have a shared history of body dysmorphia that is wrapped up in various eating disorders including overexercising. She addresses all of this with staggering honesty. I find myself mesmerized by the photos and videos Sarah posts of herself, documenting her practice of appreciating her current body - a body that grew and safely delivered two humans, a body that feeds her baby, a body that is strong as f*ck, a body that happens to be larger than it was before she became a mother. I am deeply inspired by the raw honesty with which she shares how she feels as she is getting to know her present self as she is.
I asked her how she is able to be so vulnerable.
“When your kid sees you, your body, your belly, all he’s thinking is, ‘That’s mama! That’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. That’s home. That’s safety.’ And here’s the thing about our bodies being softer than they were before: all babies need a soft place to land. We’ve been taught by society what we should appreciate as the ideal body. But we need to learn to ask, what does that even mean? What does ‘in shape’ mean? What are we defining this by? I AM in shape. I AM healthy. I post about all of this because it empowers other people to start sharing and it allows for things to be different.”
The feedback Sarah receives in response to what she shares fuels her - DMs of gratitude from fellow mothers, the deeper conversations that follow - all that is unearthed is ultimately incredibly healing. “Honestly, it becomes a virtual group therapy. I love it!”
I just love this woman - mama, yogi, and writer, whose debut book, The Yoga of Parenting, will be released in 2023. In the meantime, you can keep up with her candid musings on Instagram. You’ll love her and if you’re anything like me, you’ll learn to love yourself more, too.