Playing at sunset on an island off the south coast of Florida, as my daughter dove for the frisbee, her hand landed beside a tiny sea turtle hatchling emerging from an unmarked nest in the sand. We gathered in awe around the creature, no larger than a newborn’s hand, and watched it scale the tiny sand drifts and seaweed.
But ahhh – it was going in the wrong direction! To survive, the hatchling needed to make its way to the moonlit Gulf of Mexico. Instead, it was headed in the opposite direction, towards the artificial light of the buildings.
Without touching the tiny critter, my family and others circled around it, keeping the Gulf in sight and shading the baby from the magnetic building lights. As the sea turtle shifted direction toward the water and moved up and down the wavy sand, more and more people gathered on both sides, forming a pathway to the Gulf.
We knew that the hatchling needed to make it to the water on its own volition. Hovering close, we protected it from predator sea birds, sunset watchers, and sandcastle moats. Slowly, and with bated breath, we watched as the tiny newborn made it to the wet sand and then finally, with the next wave, out to sea! My family and all of the beachgoers howled in admiration and joy.
Motherhood & Hatchling Sea Turtles
How is the transition to motherhood similar to the heroic and ancient journey of the hatchling to the sea, you might ask?
Today, when a new mother gives birth to her baby, out of habit, she often immediately turns towards the “artificial lights” of our world: social media feeds about child raising, popular culture icons talking about postpartum body-image, apps tracking every component of postpartum life, trendy books about sleep and feeding, etc.
This information overload literally blocks out the natural lights of our awareness and inclinations. We may not know exactly what to do when the baby is born (or at three weeks or six months, or even six or sixteen years old, for that matter), but when we are bombarded with the “artificial lights”, we often can’t tap into our own thoughts. With too much distraction and stimulation, we forget to stop, slow down, and listen.
When we sit with our clients at any stage from pre-conception through motherhood, offering a body scan, mindful breathing techniques, or a simple moment of reflection, we get to witness beautiful and ordinary insights rise to the surface every time:
“I feel overstimulated!”
“Holding the baby in this way feels better to me.”
“When she sleeps close by, we both sleep better.”
“He seems more soothed when he sleeps on his own.”
“Wow, I’m hydrated and fed and less anxious – maybe they are related.”
“When I got some sleep, and my husband helped feed the baby, – I was less angry.”
“When I slowed down just then, I realized – I never ask, but I need help.”
As we consider the tiny hatchling in need of support and direction, we know that sometimes the most difficult of journeys can begin and unfold in unsuspecting ways. Motherhood will, at times, feel difficult or exhausting or complex, but when we are able to turn down the noise or lower the “artificial lights”, even for a moment, we can more easily navigate toward the moonlit sea of ourselves. And as with the hatchling, we observe from our clients – how much can feel possible, when we open to the gentle guidance and care of those whom we trust, lining the path.
So, as with each blog post that we present, grab a pen and jot down this Sticky note:
“I’m taking a break from the artificial light and tuning into myself”