The snow was already up to our windows, and though I had nothing yet to compare it to, it would be a record breaking winter in Alaska this year. The days were short and the light of the sun was gone by mid afternoon. Four cherished hours of daylight were all we had.
It was late and I laid our newborn daughter and our two year old son down for the evening. I met my husband in the living room and I wrapped my arms around him. I cried into his chest, and here, next to his heart, I felt safe — I poured out my fears one last time, "How will I survive another year without you? Will I be enough for our babies? And can I really do this alone?"
He pulled me in tight and with his voice so sure, so strong; he said "you are the most powerful and the most capable woman I've ever met, it's why I married you. We will get through this."
I held his face in my hands, committing the surety in his eyes to memory. I nodded and regained my composure, "You're right. We did this before and we will conquer this once again. I love you."
He smiled back at me, kissed me, and said "I love you the most. Hug and kiss our babies for me everyday." And then he picked up his rucksack and he was gone.
I wish I could say that I just focused on the positives and conquered my emotions but the truth was that it was incredibly hard. I learned to balance two babies who needed me constantly; tandem nursing, cloth diapering, babywearing, cosleeping, teaching them sign language to better communicate with my son who was not yet speaking; I wanted to do everything for them, and with them, and because of them. I blossomed into The Giving Mom; and when I wasn't inundated with mothering, I was figuring out how to manage a household and weather the storms, clearing snow and handling black outs. Somehow I managed to go grocery shopping and send out weekly care packages to my husband overseas.
But the darkness consumed me; I missed the sunshine and felt like I was just barely treading water. Feelings of inadequacy and depression crept through the corners of my mind.
It was also weighing on me that this was the second time my partner would miss the infant stage of our babies' life. Having left both times when they were about 3 months old and come home to a 15 month old walking toddler. So I took more photos than a normal person would and I shared them online on this new photo sharing platform I had heard of, Instagram. I hoped that if he would get lucky enough at some point to have a moment of Internet access, he could at least have a peek into our world and see how our babies were growing.
And without even realizing that people could find or follow or notice our journey, I started receiving love from mothers around the world. At first it was just a handful of women, but their support was invaluable. The words that they shared with me in that hard time in my life meant more to me than those women may ever know. I so desperately needed the feedback, the assurance and the recognition that I was as powerful and capable as my husband had last said I was. They gifted me with this reflection.
I joined the community and starting reaching out to these mothers, I began following journeys that were not my own, realizing how powerful it was to see into so many different windows around the world, knowing I wasn't the only mother struggling with the feelings within me, knowing I wasn't alone.
I became inspired by my new community, glimpsing mothers working out alongside their babies, doing yoga, hooping, dancing, sharing and celebrating. I wanted to be a part of this celebration of what our bodies are capable of.
This was how yoga found me. It called to me; the challenge of defying everything I had come to know about my body's limitations, it was too tempting to resist. And so I bought my first yoga mat and it wasn't even the physical strength I began to witness at first, it was the inner peace that grew within me that was the medicine I needed to open my eyes and my heart to each new and challenging day.
Every new breakthrough I experienced on my mat reflected back to me the breakthroughs I was achieving off the mat. And in this way, yoga saved me. Yoga gave back to me and it taught me to give back to myself, to care for myself, so that I could continue to give to my family.
As I began to share my yoga journey online alongside my mothering journey, I found my community expanding. Sharing my journey and receiving the validation my soul longed for became irreplaceable; I had found my tribe.
And now, I share my story to reach out to others who may be in a similar dark place, struggling with isolation, or loneliness — to show that there is a path out of the darkness; there is light in our coming together, in our sharing of this human experience