parenting, as with birth, is about expanding to become a vessel capable of containing a broader range of experience. this is the secret as an athlete, as well. paradigm shift again and again make the formerly-inconceivable suddenly possible.
back in 2007 I was a slow, uncoordinated, aspiring alpinist. running and I had not yet met. when I'd hear about folks ascending Mount Rainier in five hours, though inspiring, it seemed impossible.
after four years of hard work I established the first female speed ascent on that very peak, running and speed hiking to the summit in under six hours. the time between 2007 and 2011 contained paradigm shift after paradigm shift.
I worked full-time and was finishing my time at the university so time to train was scarce. my first paradigm shift occurred when I began waking each morning at 445am to train. the second when I became more efficient by biking the twenty mile loop to work and school and home each day. the next when I shifted my diet to exclude those things I'd long known I was allergic to. soon I realized I didn't have time to go out with friends to bars. the next shift, and perhaps the most important shift, was when I started believing I could run up mountains.
in four years I went from 175 pounds of stocky, slow, high-altitude, load-humping muscle into 135 pounds of sinewy, sleek, efficient, human springboard - all quads and lungs. the outer transformation, though remarkable, was only an indication of the shift my insides were making. my body changed to become the tool capable of completing the work I now believed was possible.
during labor the pain would build and become too much again and again. just like on any other long run or climb I reminded myself "this too". this mantra was comforting because it told me what I'd done so many times before: expanded to meet my growing pain with curiosity. these repeated paradigm shifts expanded my ability to contain pain, showing me that the formerly impossible task of separating bones and sinew to allow a human through was totally possible. meeting pain as a signal, a friend, and information I expanded over and over on the way to welcoming Rumi.
when I was pregnant I was not sure how I could change to add parenting to my already broad array of practices but giving up my running, climbing, writing, and solitude in the mountains was not an option.
through paradigm shift after paradigm shift, I have become the mother I am today: running far on the regular, loving my daughter, advancing in my creative practices, and also incredibly flawed.
when people speak of all that they have given up to be good parents I can't help but feel this is all wrong. we do not need to sacrifice, martyring ourselves on the pyre of parenthood, we must meet the added stimulus with curiosity and remind ourselves we are capable of containing this work, too.