Friday, 24 May 2013

Dear-Insecure-Mama: You're not unpretty...


Hey, hows it going?  I know you.  You're the girl who likes to feel pretty, to be put together, and you always have your makeup done properly.  To put it bluntly, you're pretty vain.  You won't leave the house with out at least concealer, mascara, and some blush (...sometimes too much blush, but hey... it looks pretty).  Your hair is always done.

You are that girly girl who overcame her awkward tomboy years of having a brush cut and a rat tail.  You persevered through the 90's with your frizzy perm, mile high bangs, and Club Monaco sweatshirts.  You even survived high school as you competed to be liked by the mean girls in their white eyeliner listening to the Spice Girls on their bright yellow portable CD player, who tormented your self-esteem daily.  You learned to love yourself and became a confident woman, especially towards your body and looks.

I've watched you when you judge 'those women' who don't have it all together.  Who have that screaming child in their grocery cart, a falling apart pony tail, dressed in all black, with dark tired circles under their eyes.  I've read your mind as you thought, how hard is it to throw on a bit of make-up lady and have some pride in your appearance?

You're that woman who will never be the quote, un-quote 'Mom'.  You'll be different.  You'll be able to keep it together.  I mean really, there's no reason why a Mother can't be pretty and fashionable at the same time... right?

Then you went and had a baby.

Vanity didn't leave you but your sense of all things pretty did.  Your maternity leave is almost done and the fifty pounds of baby weight are long gone yet you still feel unpretty.  The hit to your self-esteem after having your son is indescribable.  You kept telling yourself that once the numbers on the scale were back to 'normal' you would regain your confidence.  Sadly, although you're past that magical number... your just as insecure as ever.

You have acne on your chin that rivals most teenagers.   People think you eat too many chocolate bars or that you don't wash your face.  Your skin is ridiculously dry from breastfeeding.  So much of your hair has fallen out that you have actually asked your husband to check if you have a bald spot.  You used to be that girl with the hair from a Salon Selective's commercial.  Now you're that girl with the hair all over the bathroom sink and floor.  It's falling out all over the place and you feel like Demi Moore in G. I. Jane as she stares at her unfamiliar new appearance in the mirror after she shaves her head.  Except you have all your hair, mostly... except for the broken patches along your hair line making you look like the Barbie doll you gave a shitty haircut to as a 4 year old when you tie your hair back.  Which I might add is more out of necessity than a fashion statement because of your sons ninja fast moves and iron clad grip.  He has you in constant fear of having your hair ripped out in clumps like you're in a match with one of the ladies from Glow Wrestling.

On the odd occasion that you you get to go out and wear your hair down and try to curl it like you used to... it flops, has no body, and is limp and pathetic.  Mocking you with every fallen curl, reminding you that the price for your perfectly angelic son who may or may not sleep through the night was your once beautiful hair that could hold a curl for days.

And your belly.  Oh your jelly belly.  I don't think you were ready for this jelly Beyonce.  Seriously, what the hell is up with your jello jiggler and muffin top?  And can I get a what-what for your back fat?  While we're at it, lets give your hips a full out eff you for widening out to birth your child, because I hate to tell you this... but you have no ass either.  I have no idea how to segue into your boobies so I won't.... but lets just say, they be destroyed from almost a year of perpetual sucking.  And let's not forget that the veins all over your chest look like the tear stained face of someone who forgot to wear waterproof mascara while watching The Notebook.  How pretty.  

With all of this, you don't know any other way to feel about yourself.  Most days you feel yucky.  Plain, dishevelled, and yucky.

You are now that woman you hated.  The one that scoffs at people when given a compliment and promptly proceed to tell them they're just being nice.  You no longer walk into a room with confidence.  You feel that unwanted glance to your tummy and telepathically hear, "Oh she definitely has not lost the baby weight yet."  

Negative self-talk is killing you from the inside out.  Like a toxin that seeps into your everyday moments.  You bend over to pick up your son, and feel that extra gushyness at your belly and wonder how the hell do those other moms look so good.  Your baby boot camp is supposed to make you lose some weight and gain some confidence but it's so hard not to compare yourself to all those 'skinny Moms'.  You know, the ones whose child is three weeks old  and somehow they are in way better shape than you've ever been.

Be honest.  You don't recognize the woman you see in the mirror anymore and there isn't enough concealer in the world to undo the sleep deprivation and constant go-go-go of motherhood.  Bluntly, a lot of the time, you feel ugly.  And no matter how many times your husband tells you how beautiful you are, you just don't feel it.

This wasn't something you were prepared for.  It's the giant secret that all seasoned Mama's hold close.  Refusing to tell the newbies what they're actually being initiated into.  A whole new world of self-doubt and at times, self-loathing.  It's like you spent nine months preparing for one day.  Being scared about one day.  Being excited about ONE day.  And then one day turns into a lifetime, where you thought the only think that would change is the 'plus one' to your family.  But instead... you have changed.  Your friendships have changed.  Your thoughts have changed.  Your responsibilities have changed.  Your perspective on life has changed.  Your body has changed.  Everything about you has changed and you're stuck fumbling in the dark trying to figure who the hell you are now.

The metamorphosis of becoming a Mother is more challenging than you can ever prepare for.  It's hard feeling like a stranger in your own body, a body that doesn't feel like your own.  But you are not alone. The dark feelings of self-conciousness that encompassed you after becoming a mother are felt by many.  You are not that woman whose belly sprung back to it's old shape three months postpartum.  Instead, you are that mother who still looked 6 months pregnant when your son turned 4 months old .  You are not that woman who lost the 50 pounds by just breastfeeding.  Instead, you are that mother who watched what she ate and busted her ass with Shawn T, all the while caring and nurturing your son.  It took you nine long months to loose the 'baby-weight', and even then... things will never be the way they were.  But you have a completely skewed vision of yourself now.  That needs to stop.  Trust me, it's going to be ok.

You will start to have these 'moments'.  They will creep up here and there when you least expect it, like a bit of sun peeking through the thick fog that has surrounded you since the birth of your healthy baby boy.  Perhaps it's a quick glance to the mirror, and suddenly you feel saucy in the new 'big girl' thirty-five dollar Clinique lipstick you just bought.  It could be a spontaneous moment of trying on hot pink ridiculously trendy pants that you were certain would make your ass look enormous, but they magically fit and make you wanna give your booty a "hell-yah" when you look at it.  Or maybe it's a skinny, beautiful, tan leather jacket that you thought you'd never fit again so you decide to try it on as a final 'farewell' before you shove it to the back of your closet where all your skinny clothes go to die... and wouldn't you know it, the zipper does up.  Whatever they are, these moments will start to happen more and more, and each time they do a small teeny-tiny part of your old confidence will come back.  

And before you know it, you'll be feeling good again.  

Before you know it, you'll be feeling pretty again.  

Before you know it, you'll be feeling like you again.   

The trick with this journey is realizing you're not alone, and making sure to take back a little bit of yourself with every tiny little victory you achieve.  There is nothing sexy about a woman without confidence, and it's time you started to stand tall and embrace the new amazing, wonderful, beautiful Mama you are.  You made a human, and may have felt like you destroyed your body in the process of doing so... but you've done a good job, your baby is healthy and happy, and you look great.  Now start acting like you believe it.  


To all of you childless women, who think you'll never get to this point of despair on your road to motherhood.  Kudos to you.  But before you judge, allow me to give you some advice...

The next time you're walking down the street and start to judge that dishevelled Mom who is out in her pants that are saggy on her ass, or with her broken down pony tail -- take a step back and give the girl a break.  In fact, give her a high five for getting herself out of the house in something other than black yoga pants.  Give her a knowing look of sympathy.  Hell, buy the woman a coffee or better yet a bottle of wine.  Open the door for her.  Say hello to her.  Be nice to her.  Thank her for taking one for the team and populating the planet with another adorable baby who will one day surely find the cure for Ebola, or muffin tops, or something equally impressive.  Tell her it's all worth it in the end.  Tell her she's doing a great job.  Tell her it will all be ok.  Make her feel good, somehow.  Remind her that she's not invisible.  Remind her that this too will pass.  Remind her that while some people suck, and judge, and love to argue and belittle any chance they get -- some people don't.  Remind her some people still care, whether she knows it or not.  Remind her that some people still like her, whether she likes herself or not.  Because one day you just might become that woman, and trust me, you'll appreciate it.

Remember this?

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One more thing, looking for a great website all about Moms?  Great recipes, awesome bloggers (shameless self-plug here), lots of amazing support by cool Mamas.  Jenny has created an amazing space for Mama's to connect, a total judge-free zone.  I love it over there.  Make sure you take a peek.

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