Sometimes mom needs to go underground to thrive above ground. I did this, literally, in a secret underground river, ten miles into the Mayan jungle from Playa del Carmen in Mexico.
Life gets stressful as a mom. Some of us do it alone. Others have amazing partners (maybe some wish their parenting partners did more). You might have one kiddo; you might be brave enough to navigate the raising of five in this crazy world. Regardless of where we are on our parenting journey, all moms have one thing in common – we work HARD. I often think being a SAHM might be harder than working two jobs and going to school full time. One of the hardest lessons I have learned from being a mother is to take. time. for. myself. Something happens during childbirth, I’m convinced, where we become selfless overnight. We suddenly stop thinking about ourselves and constantly think of what we need to do for everyone else around us. There comes a time when we need a reset.
So, when my mother called asking if I would go on a cruise with her, I jumped at the chance. No kids, no husband, no homework, no jobs… just ocean and breeze and a mental release. Mid-week, we docked in Cozumel, Mexico. Once I departed the cruise ship, I walked a bit to a ferry, took a gorgeous 45-minute ride across the ocean to Playa del Carmen, walked another mile to our transportation, and began the ride deep into the jungle. The twenty-first century seemed to fade away in the rearview mirror. Once the buzz of the highway was far in the distance, our group suited up and began our hike deeper into the jungle and further from society.
While walking to the opening of the cave they only recently discovered, our tour guide stopped and warned us about touching these black trees. He said that just touching them could cause third-degree burns. A few steps farther, he pointed to another tree that looked similar except for having normal-looking bark. He explained that there is an Ancient Mayan legend of these Chaca and Chechen Trees. The Chechen tree has black sap that is poisonous and can cause those serious burns. The Chaca tree has nectar that neutralizes the burn and the poison. The two always grow within a short distance of each other and sometimes right next to each other. It was beautiful to see how nature provides relief to the suffering caused within the exact same environment. The Mayans believed the trees sprouted from the burial of an evil ruler that burned towns to the ground and from the resting site of a beautiful ruler that came later and healed the people and the land, respectively.
When I left Cincinnati, I thought of feeling the need for isolation, but then I realized that we need more than just ourselves. We need to be connected.
Our little group climbed down rocks, deep into the ground, and entered an opening of a large cave with cool pools of water all around us. The only light we had was from the small rays emanating from our helmets. We swam and floated through natural mineral water, climbed over rocks, and offered helping hands to people we had never met before that day.
At one point near the end of our journey underground, our guide led us out into a deep pool and had us turn off all our lights. We were in the deepest darkness I have ever been in my entire life. The guide told us to be completely still and silent as we floated in our life vests. He talked about how we are so caught up in the business of life that we rarely, if ever, remember to just “be.”
We spent about five minutes with the modern world blacked out. I heard tiny trickles of water drip from the stalactite above and down the cavernous walls. I heard the peaceful breathing of the strangers around me. I have never been so still as I was down there that day. I realized that we need those moments to “be.” It was an incredibly powerful recharge. All of us moms need to find our own versions of a “Secret River” and learn to be in the moment.
I returned from my trip to the Caribbean with a refreshed outlook on life and my mental sanity. The weekend after I returned, I got another reminder of this same lesson at Crossroads Church. This is by no means a religious post, but something really stuck out to me that day. The Law of Entropy from the Second Law of Thermodynamics was brought up. This physics principle refers to the concept that the amount of usable energy in any isolated system always decreases over time and that outside energy sources are needed to recharge the isolated system. I was reminded again of the need for creating “margin” in our lives for the things that reenergize us.
What drains your energy? Work? Kids? Relationship(s)? School? Adulting in general?? It can be all those things. We are isolated systems, and we need outside energy sources to sustain us. None of us can do it alone, no matter how hard we try.
We can get our energy from a number of sources – this group of women in our Cincinnati Moms Blog community is a huge energy resource for me. We can utilize a spouse, a partner, friends, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, children, etc. We just have to make concentrated efforts to be in those moments with those chosen people. Have mommy nights with a kid, or all of them at once. Have set date nights with your significant other. Grab a glass of wine with the girls. Whatever it is, just “be” and enjoy the small moments life gives us. The rest of our lives will be that much more worth it as a result. Go forth, create some margin, and BE!