I was recently told that I dressed too nicely for being a mom with three young children. I had no idea how to react to that statement, was it a compliment or an insult? I looked down at my outfit and chuckled while muttering, “ok…..”
I was wearing my pretty typical jeans, favorite top, pink sneaker combo. My hair was in a messy bun (I am pretty sure it automatically goes there by itself now), and I was wearing my typical swipe of mascara and lip gloss face. I felt comfortable and presentable and EXACTLY LIKE A MOM.
I hear it a lot, that I look too pulled together for having three kids or that others could never do everything I do before leaving the house. Every time I hear it I get an immediate urge to apologize. I don’t want others to feel like they can’t do what I do. What I do is I get dressed.
I get up and I get dressed every morning in clothing that makes me feel good. That is it. Long ago I threw out anything that didn’t make me feel confident or comfortable or good. I have curated my wardrobe to be filled with items that i love and that fit me in the body I have right now.
The fact is that I have three daughters. I have struggled with body image issues and grappled with a horrible self image for a very long time. I HATED my body. The criticism that was casually tossed my way when I was younger, by people who thought they were being funny, stuck with me and I added my own belittling comments to the soundtrack that ran near constantly in my head.
I would cry in fitting rooms when things didn’t fit my body. I would blame my hips, my thighs, my chest, every part of me. I would let one too tight pair of jean ruin my entire day. The amount of hatred I carried for myself was exhausting.
And then something amazing happened. I got pregnant. As my stomach grew so did my confidence. I no longer saw my self perceived flaws, instead I saw how amazing my body could be.
After giving birth to a perfect tiny human my body did this amazing thing and was able to provide nutrition for my baby. Being able to do that for her made the loose skin and stretch marks fade into the background.
For the first time in my life I was proud of my body. Maybe I still was not the biggest fan of the shape of certain parts but I now viewed it, viewed myself, as more than just the sum of those flawed parts. It was liberating.
I went on to have two more daughters, both perfect and beautiful. Recently, I was complimenting my ten month old, telling her perfect her chubby, dimpled thighs were. How could I love those perfect thighs and hate my own? How would I feel if she grew to loathe her thighs like I did mine? The thought shattered my momma heart. I had to do better, I had to be better. I am my daughters’ first female role model, this is not something I take lightly. If I don’t want them to hate themselves then it is up to me to show them what it looks like to have some self love.
The way I am able to hold onto the bit of confidence that motherhood gifted me was and is to take care of myself. I have gone through seasons of not putting in the effort. I would through on whatever was “easy” and not give my appearance a second thought. That lack of effort woke the self hate and loathing, a beast that never fully left, it lays dormant and subdued by my awe of my body’s abilities.
Just like my children need reassurance and nurturing to grow and become the best versions of themselves, I need to extend that same grace to myself. Getting dressed isn’t a luxurious thing that I am lucky to have time for. It is an act of self care that is necessary that I MAKE time for. It is a conscious choice I make every morning to remind myself that I matter.
The next time someone asks me how I do it, how I manage to pull myself together every day, I think I will simply respond with, “I make myself a priority because I am worth it.”