Keep Calm and Sparkle On, Mama

Mom at pool with son

It took me a while to get this one right. As I wrote I would delete, re-write, delete and re-write again. I obsessed over what readers would think and I could picture the eye rolls in my head. I even sent the piece to my behind the scenes girl who does my final publications and told her to pump the breaks on posting. But then, I realized that I was doing exactly what I was telling the others NOT to do. So, here it is…

My husband took a picture of me holding my youngest son over this past summer. We were hanging out by our neighbor’s beautiful pool, white claws were flowing, tiny humans were having a blast, and we were truly enjoying ourselves and relaxing. We were soaking in the hot, summer sun without a care in the world and snapped some pictures to document the cherished moment of sincere peace and happiness.

After having two babies, it felt nearly impossible to ever find the time and energy to get my pre-baby body back. I envied women who had done it and who were constantly working on feeling and looking their best, but I just didn’t think it would be in my cards. I justified this by saying I was proud of where I was and would wear my new figure like a badge of honor for carrying and birthing my babes. I was blessed with good metabolism, so I wasn’t unhealthy, just not where I used to be and that okay. But, deep down, I knew better. For one, I knew that it wasn’t entirely about how I looked, though I’d be lying if I didn’t say that played a factor. A majority of what was weighing on me was how I felt and the answer to that was crummy. Here I was, a somewhat new mom to two beautiful, happy, healthy boys, yet I just wasn’t me. I wasn’t the best version of myself and I knew I needed to do better. So, I did just that. I went out there and made the damn changes.

I had worked so hard to get a bikini ready body, making serious changes to my diet throughout the winter and spring. I had started making exercise a priority and even ventured to consider the idea of a half marathon, which, I am proud to day I just completed this past weekend. I worked damn hard to get to where I was. Still, I saw a saggy belly, pale skin, pinned back hair with wrinkles screaming at me, flat boobs… shall I go on? I was SO incredibly critical of myself it was insane.

I worked hard, I turned down all the donuts, I ran, then ran some more, and OH don’t get me started on the lunges and squats. And, I was really proud of how my results had turned out! While I should have wanted to shout my successes from the roof top, instead I stressed over whether I had actually succeeded. Yes, I was proud of where I was and how I felt, buuuuuuuuut (you have to read that in the long, drawn out way that I intended it to be read) all of the filters in the world could not have made me un-see the imperfections, that I saw.   

Regardless, I eventually grew a set and posted the picture on social media, more or less to show off my kids-they’re pretty stinking cute. I shared it anyway, saggy belly and all, mixed in with a bunch of other pictures with the hopes that the glowing faces of my tiny humans would divert viewers from my flaws.

And, guess what?! I received positive comments, one person telling me that I looked great (mind-blown) and another complimenting my swimsuit! You see mama, others don’t see what we see in ourselves. We are so quick to judge ourselves not only physically but mentally and emotionally too. People have told me I am crazy for viewing the picture the way my eyes had seen it and I am thankful for that. But, the point isn’t always what others see but how we see ourselves.

Stop the cycle and be proud of where you are. If you’re not proud, you’re not where you’re meant to be. You are in control of your health, happiness, and most importantly your attitude. Let’s change our attitudes from “look at my flaws” to “look how far I’ve come” or “look how hard I worked to get to where I am.”  I was damn proud of where I was but was held back by the thought that “yes, I’ve come so far, but is it far enough?” The answer was yes, it was enough for me, but was I stalled over wondering if it was enough for everyone else?

Don’t hide behind the stretch marks, and don’t for one second dull your shimmer at the expense of sparing someone else’s feelings because everyone, and I repeat EVERYONE, has the power to get to where they want to be. As women we are so worried about what others will think. When we succeed we stress that we will be bragging or boasting or making other people feel less than par so instead we knock ourselves down. This has got to stop. We have to stop the cycle of holding ourselves back so as not to offend or make another woman feel uncomfortable. Instead, set goals, dream big, share your journey and accomplishments and share what you did to get there. Lift others up, encourage others, and be kind, but not at the expense of being unfair to yourself.

Let’s work to celebrate the journey and stop obsessing over the end game. Share the damn pictures, talk about your accomplishments and talk about your dreams. Don’t ever stop shining. I challenge you, each and every person who reads this, to take a moment and publicly share a recent accomplishment. Anything from folding all of your laundry to securing a promotion to losing 50 lbs. Cheers to the dreams, the successes and, above all else, cheers to the fan-freaking-tastic journey!

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