I’ll never forget looking at myself in a full-length mirror for the first time after having my son. I was barely three days postpartum and already poking and prodding at my soft belly, wondering why I wasn’t able to leave the hospital wearing my pre-pregnancy pants like Megan Fox. I wish I could say that I quickly came to my senses and realized that my body had, you know, just produced a human being, but instead I spent the next few months obsessing over my new figure and desperately trying to get back to how I looked before I decided to have a baby.
I talk with a lot of moms these days and I’ve noticed that this body obsession I faced is an all too common trend. Beautiful, perfect mothers are going to extreme lengths to try and obtain a Hollywood postpartum recovery that is not only unrealistic for almost all of us, but also extremely unhealthy. Magazines Photoshop people like Kourtney Kardashian and make us believe that if we don’t look like she does by 6 weeks out then we are clearly doing something wrong. So we cut our calories even more, start back-to-back juice cleanses, and double up on workouts to try and achieve this impractical image of a “new mom body”.
But as mothers, we have a unique responsibility to our children. Generally speaking, we are the first person they see in the morning and the last before they lay down to sleep each night. They feel the most comfort in our arms and they look to us as living examples of who, what, and how they should be. It’s easy to forget that our children hear everything we say, especially when we can’t seem to get them to actually respond half of the time. (Anybody else going through the “If I pretend not to hear you, you didn’t say it” phase?) But the truth is that they hear every passing phrase, every whisper – and if we are unkind to ourselves they are not going to understand what self-love is and before we know it they will be the ones standing in the mirror poking and prodding at their own little bodies.
I’ve been thinking a lot about one of our frequently used hashtags: #likeamom and have been meditating on what that means. Sure, we show up to class and sweat, but “like a mom” is so much more than that.
It’s staying up all night with a fussy baby and still showing up to workout the next morning.
It’s choosing to go home and cook after a long day instead of grabbing fast food, even though it’s the easier option.
It’s speaking to yourself with respect and kindness so that your children know what self-worth looks like.
It’s showing your little ones that women can be just as strong and tough as men.
It’s leading by example.
It’s showing our babes what it looks like to live a healthy, active lifestyle in an age where they are encouraged to sit inside all day long and stare at a screen.
It’s day in and day out, working towards a better you.
So when you find yourself getting down about the number on the scale or those jeans that still don’t fit quite right, be kind to yourself and look at the bigger picture. You are doing something so much greater than simply getting fit, you are showing your little ones what it means to live like a mom.