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By Helen Spitzer

Last night I lay exhausted on a polished wood floor as another grown woman tucked a blanket around me as I fell asleep. It was a restorative yoga class, and it was just what the doctor ordered.

I’ve been running on empty for weeks now. So has my toddler, albeit more cheerfully: he’s been battling a chest cold for a month. Every time he seems well enough for playschool – he loves it so much he mumbles about it in his sleep – a chill wind blows and he’s up half the night. As are we. Is any sound sadder than a baby’s uncontrollable coughing?

been bidding friends goodbye with my usual, “take care of yourself!” I’ve been thinking I need to do some of that. When I had the bunchkin’s cold I joked miserably that all I wanted was for someone to make soup and tuck me in. I know I’ve got to take care of my basic needs before I can look after anyone else. Why is that so hard?

My friend Angie likens it to putting one’s own oxygen mask on before attending to others. (We were having this conversation on the phone while I was laying prone on my kitchen floor, on a yoga mat. Too tired to actually do yoga.) I hope she remembers this when her own baby comes. A lot of my friends are pregnant right now, and some have toddlers in tow. Whenever I see one, I want to pick up her snuffly child and send her for a nap. I relayed this to another Bunch writer last week and she replied, “Did you say rock me to sleep? That would be so nice.”

So why do we have this problem, as parents, to schedule some self-care when we so unequivocally need it? Sometimes there is time, and we squander it. I waste mine catching up on Twitter or paging listlessly through unread New Yorkers, knowing I am too fried to take anything in. My child is asleep by 8 p.m. but my nerves get so jangly that I can’t remember how to untangle them. I won’t sleep until I collapse.

I thought about all of this when I spied the little pile-on happening in our comments section. They were responses to a list of suggestions (no-one suggested you try them ALL, people) of how to show new parents some love. Commenters insisted they never expected this kind of help when their child was born. That they wouldn’t dare ask this of someone. That no one helped when they had their kids and mothers have been raising babies for millennia without a homemade meal left at the door.

Underneath the mocking and chiding, I sense something else. A bitterness. And I get it. You can feel resentful when you pull through something difficult on your own and no-one recognizes the toll it’s taking. And when you look around, others seem okay with asking for what they need. So you conclude they’re being coddled. This isn’t about being a parent, this is fundamental to human experience. The conviction that there isn’t enough care to go around. That love is finite. And if you aren’t getting your own needs met, goddammit, you sure as hell aren’t about to help out someone else.

– – –

Last night I didn’t feel like seeing anyone or going anywhere. But I put on my coat and walked the four and a half blocks to a late-night restorative yoga class, along with three other weary souls. Our teacher adjusted props and tucked blankets under our backs and necks and waved lemon verbena under our nostrils. Mostly she just emanated care. Any other time I might have giggled. But last night, by the time Eno’s “Music for Airports” came on, I was deep into the most luxurious sleep I’ve had in a year.

  1. Music for Airports is a much-beloved Brian Eno album and we promise you it’s more relaxing than windchimes. He also has a new album.
  2. Here are a few yoga studios that offer Restorative Yoga in Toronto. Here’s one in Newmarket. Here’s another in Scarborough.
  3. Oh, just google “restorative yoga” + your town right now and add it to your calendar. Just do! There is no try.
  4. Brian Eno has an app that he created with musician/designer Peter Chilvers, and it’s the most elegant thing you’ve ever seen on a smartphone. It’ll peace you out on the subway and even get you through an hour at the Apple store.

Helen Spitzer is senior editor at Bunch.

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