Christa Couture performs an aerialist silk technique


How Swinging From the Ceiling Made Me a Better Mom

Sep 25, 2019

"Try and take a quiet moment for yourself" is advice you hear a lot as a parent. The ideas on how to accomplish that are endless: a bath; a glass of wine; five minutes locked in the bathroom with a book.

But when I went looking for self care, what I found restorative wasn’t restful at all. It was active, and had me hanging from the ceiling. I decided to take an aerialist silks class.

Read more from Christa Couture: I Couldn't Find Disability Maternity Photos, So I Made My Own

You know, like in Cirque du Soleil, where the two long pieces of fabric hang from the ceiling and a person climbs up high, swings, dives and seemingly flies through the air.

Parenting is full of rewards, but at times, I have felt inept and disheartened by the challenges. I needed to find something where I could feel a little bit of mastery, feel wholly present in my body and feel like I was getting a genuine break from my home life in a short amount of time.

I imagined I would have to be cut down.

When you watch the pros do silks, it seems unfathomable, magical. It’s not something I would have ever thought of trying, not in small part because it looks like you need killer core strength and I’ve had two c-sections. But I was watching an episode of Queer Eye where someone tries silks for the first time, and I bolted upright. "That looks like something I could do," I thought.

Once I started looking for a class, I found there’s an entire circus arts community, including a number of options for teachers and spaces. I chose a private class because I’m not exactly a sporty person. I don’t run. I don’t go to the gym. I have never taken dance classes. I’ve done a little bit of yoga, but wouldn’t be able to name half the poses I pull off in my living room sporadically. Taking any kind of fitness or movement class is daunting to me, and I didn’t want to try something new in front of a load of strangers — strangers who might be immediate naturals, while I got stuck in a knot halfway to the ceiling.

I imagined I would have to be cut down.

...the arms that carry my toddler all the time, the back that’s bending constantly to pick up toys, relaxed.

I arrived at my scheduled time as a group class was ending. I took my shoes off and walked along the sidelines while a few women were suspended in moves high above the ground and a few others sat on the floor watching, commenting and encouraging their peers. I looked away, worried if I saw what others were capable of I’d feel more insecure about my starting point.

After the others filed out, the instructor instantly put me at ease. We stretched, chatted and then began. She showed me a “leg lock” used to climb up the silks, and with just one step, I was off the floor. I felt accomplished already! She tied a knot in the silks and showed me how to hang upside down. My body sighed into being inverted; the arms that carry my toddler all the time, the back that’s bending constantly to pick up toys, relaxed.

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It didn’t take much to break a sweat — even small silks moves are a big workout — and I left my first class hooked. I returned the next week, and the week after that, slowly but surely building my confidence, my physical strength and my repertoire. Each week, my teacher gave me just enough instruction to both push my limits and accomplish something. That balance was critical, and it lifted my spirits and refreshed my body.

Picking yourself up off the floor is an easy metaphor — in silks, you are literally using your own strength to lift yourself up. In the daily chaos and frustration of being a mom, it can often feel like you never get the hang of things, like you never do it right, or that you never do enough.

At silks, I get to try something that’s also enormously challenging, to push past my boundaries and try, try again until I do get it right — for one hour a week. It’s one of the few hours I get to myself, but it’s enough to come home aglow, empowered and ready for the next toddler tantrum.

Article Author Christa Couture
Christa Couture

Christa Couture is an award-winning performing and recording artist, a non-fiction writer, a digital producer, a cyborg and a halfbreed. Her fourth album “Long Time Leaving” was released in 2016 on Black Hen Music; her writing has been published in Room, Shameless, Augur, and the anthology “The M Word;” and as a speaker and storyteller, she has addressed audiences for CBC’s DNTO, Moses Znaimer’s conference ideacity, and Imaginate in Port Hope, Ontario. Prairie-raised, Christa spent 17 years in Vancouver and now calls Toronto home. Find Christa at, on Twitter and on Instagram.

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