Becoming a mother has been the greatest journey of my life. It has blessed me in ways beyond what I even have words for. It has also changed me more than any other life event I have yet experienced.
I’d like to think of myself as a pretty confident person. I pride myself in my ability to make new friends, I can laugh off most of my silly mistakes, I have sang my heart out in front of audiences of complete strangers, and have rocked a crop top after age 25.
That being said, every single person has moments of self doubt and self consciousness, and I have many.
I’ll be honest. It had been years since I have had issues with my self esteem, and my body image. I worked super hard on loving my body and myself and I am beyond proud of that. I can honestly say that for the past 6 years my self confidence level was at an all time high.
I rarely doubted an outfit choice, I ate what I wanted with no regrets or hesitations, and I rarely cared about leaving the house without a lick of makeup on.
Enter motherhood. The most amazing, beautiful, complicated, and triggering transformation of my life.
Becoming a mother has changed me in so many ways. I am much more open (I mean here I am sharing my story with you), more loving, and accepting; but, as I have shared in the past it has also been one of the hardest changes in my life.
Mentally, it has taken a toll. I have suffered from postpartum anxiety and so many issues from my past have come back to haunt me.
Most know me as a easy going and happy person, and for the most part that is true. What may surprise people is my past relationship with my self image and my very disordered relationship with food.
From the ages of 15 to about 24 my relationship with my body was very toxic. For 3 years in high school I starved it, restricting calories to about 600 a day and working out every night for at least an hour so I could burn off whatever I had consumed. When I got to college I went through bouts of binge eating, followed by restricting again.
I had days where I would look in the mirror with such disgust for what I saw reflected back to me, and I cried. I had days where even at my lowest weight in high school I changed 10 times because I truly believed that I looked “fat”. No matter what I did, what I ate, what I weighed, I was unhappy with my body and myself.
I finally worked on my mental health and healing this relationship with my food and my body around 25. I researched nutrition, and taught myself how to fuel my body. I began working out not to punish my body but because I wanted to feel healthy and to treat my body with love. I surrounded myself with body positive images, friends who built me up and supported me, and really worked on self love.
I finally began healing myself. I finally started to love myself and my body.
When I got pregnant I thought my changing body may trigger my past thoughts but it didn’t. Instead, I was one of those women who truly loved watching my body change and grow the beautiful life within me.
I even remember the first week I was home with my baby feeling such pride for my body and what it had just accomplished. It literally grew a baby from a cluster of tiny cells into the perfect angel that was placed into my arms that beautiful day. It kept her strong and healthy, and when the day came for her to be born it endured the most physically challenging event of my entire life! Who wouldn’t be proud?!
Well, around the time my postpartum anxiety showed up so did my negative thoughts and feelings from my past.
This is pretty normal for mamas after having a baby. We look in the mirror and see cellulite, extra skin, extra weight, stretch marks, dark circles that just won’t go away and we think to ourselves “who even is that?!”
Now (and trust me when I tell you this is not to brag) I am well aware that for someone who had a baby 7 months ago I am in very good shape physically. However, mentally this has been a difficult internal struggle.
Body dysmorphia is a very real mental issue. Sadly many women deal with this today. How many of us know someone who you can compliment about their looks and they just can’t seem to accept it as truth? Some days the image I see in the mirror is what others see, and others my body dysmorphia takes over.
9 months before giving birth to my daughter I was in the best shape of my life. I was eating well, I had found a workout routine that worked for my body and I had ample time to fit it in daily, and I was confident in myself. Here I was a few weeks after giving birth to my baby, and suddenly life as I knew it was upside down.
Schedule was thrown out the window, eating healthy became a luxury that took a back seat to convenience, and the person I saw in the mirror was unrecognizable to me. I had been in such a comfortable place for so long, in the flow of routine, and in just a few weeks motherhood catapulted me out of it.
Losing control of my lifestyle and my routine really began to trigger me.
My old beliefs about my body began to replace my pride for the body that had given me a child. The lack of time I had to focus on eating healthy, and filling my fridge with fruits and veggies began to stress me out.
15 years later I was seeing myself fall back into my unhealthy relationship with my body.
Thankfully this time I was equipped with tools and experience to bring me back to alignment, along with the biggest motivation for self love ever: my daughter.
I know what it feels like to look in the mirror and have such sad thoughts about what I see, and that is the very last thing I want for my girl. I want her to look in the mirror and be so proud and happy to see the beautiful woman staring back at her. I want her relationship with her body and herself to be healthy and positive. The only way for her to have that is for me to model that for her.
We have to change the narrative we tell ourselves to inspire the narrative our children will tell themselves.
As mothers, it is so easy for us to be critical of ourselves whether it be our appearance, how we keep our house, how we spend our time, or something else. We all want to be the best mother humanly possible for our little ones. It’s also so easy for us to compare ourselves to other moms who seem to have it all perfect.
Today moms aren’t just bombarded with our own fears and thoughts that we are less than, we see it all over social media. Instagram and Facebook are flooded with perfectly manicured mamas matching their little ones and smiling as they bake the most beautiful pie you’ve ever seen in their spotless minimalist kitchen. Their children are groomed, smiling, and dressed to the nines. No crying, stressing or whining here! The mothers in these photos have flawless hair and makeup and their bodies could rival a top model.
With images like these flooding our psyches, it’s easy to see why so many mamas have such doubt about their beauty and competence as a mother.
These images can be super triggering to any mama who is still trying to drop her baby weight, figure out a routine, and just survive the craziness that is raising a child.
One of the first things I did once I recognized I was having these thoughts was unfollow all these insta moms that were fueling my self doubt. Anyone I felt that I was comparing myself to I deleted. It’s seriously amazing how much this helped me.
I began looking in the mirror daily and inwardly noting one thing that I truly love about myself. It could be a physical or non physical attribute. This truly has helped me to start with a positive outlook on myself which carries me through the rest of my day.
I also started telling my daughter every morning “you are smart, you are kind, your intelligent, your powerful, you are important, you are loved, and you are enough.” Saying these words to her every morning not only is helping her learn confidence, but saying those words over and over myself has seriously helped to shift my own mindset.
I journal. I used to do this in high school, but back then it was more a tell all of the sweet things I thought of my boyfriend at the time, or rumors I heard in the hallways at school. These days it’s all my doubts, all the things that I am grateful for, and any inspirations that come to mind. Getting thoughts out on a page has become very therapeutic, and writing at least one thing I am grateful for a Day makes me recognize all the other amazing things I have to be thankful for!
I do things that I know bring me joy and peace. I take walks and leave my cell phone behind. I lay in the grass with my daughter, sometimes for an hour at a time. I take her down to the beach. I listen to my favorite music and dance around the house with her. When you do things that bring you happiness, although it may not bring you immediately back to peace, it will help lift your spirits and get you out of the dark.
Turning to friends and loved ones has always been difficult for me when I’m in crisis mode. Asking for help is not something I find easy. I have always been the friend that listens and offers advice, but for me, asking for it myself doesn’t come naturally.
Thankfully I have some amazing girlfriends, family, and a super supportive husband that are always there to listen, as well as call me out when I’m not acting myself. This should be your first step when ur having feelings like this, and if you don’t have anyone or these feelings are super intense see a therapist.
There is no shame in asking for help, and truth be told Mother’s probably need help the most! We do so much for everyone else in our family that we often put ourselves and our needs on the back burner.
Motherhood changes our lives completely and can trigger so many thoughts and feelings. It’s easy to get stuck in the low vibe, lack mentality, doubt ourselves and feel like we have lost ourselves.
The truth is that to be the best mothers to our children we have to first take care of ourselves mentally. We have to take the time to make sure we recognize what’s going on, and that we give ourselves the space and the tools to get out of it. The best mamas are happy mamas.
I’m not writing this post because I’m an expert on the matter. Believe me, I know that I am far from it. I’m writing this because I too need this as a reminder. Every single day I work on making sure I’m the working towards being the best version of myself that I can be.
I want my daughter to see me as positive, happy, confident and strong. I want to feel this way for myself as well, I mean who wouldn’t? This is something I work towards every day and that I know I’ll have to continue to work on, probably for the rest of my life.
Motherhood is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I mean that when I say it. It is truly beautiful, but also so triggering.
I hope that sharing my story helps other moms know that you aren’t alone. You aren’t the only person out there feeling lost, or wondering where your old self has gone. I hope this will inspire other mamas to start difficult conversations with each other, to support one another.
Let’s embrace that we aren’t those “insta moms” who have everything perfect. Our lives are messy, they get dark sometimes but at the end of the day they are beautiful and we’re all just doing our best.
We got this mamas!