I always thought that I had a solid sense of style. I knew what I liked and knew what I didn’t, and I felt like I had a good amount of self-esteem. Sure, I had my fair share of body issues that manifested in different ways, including feeling like nothing in my entire closet looked right or random days where I just felt…gross, but overall I would have described myself as being pretty confident in my own skin. You may also notice that I’m speaking here in the past tense, which hints at some sort of divide marking then and now…
Before even getting pregnant, I remember overhearing some of my Mom friends talk about how it took them so long to get back to feeling like themselves after having children. I recall sitting there listening, kind of shocked that these women could have actually (*gasp*) lost track of their style or who they were. It’s just a baby, right? I was positive that would never happen to me.
Fast forward through my pregnancy and some months after birth, and I found myself in exactly that predicament. It’s hard to explain – I felt happier than I’d ever been, but yet just didn’t feel like me. And it went beyond the physical. Even though I had this sense of contentment, something felt off when it came to how I felt about myself. I think back to a particularly dramatic (and in hindsight embarrassing) moment about 5 months after having Henry, sitting on the floor of my closet surrounded by all of the clothing I had pulled down from their hangers. I had a dinner to attend and an outfit to put together, but nothing fit well. Nothing looked right. Everything was different than it had been before I was pregnant. I sat there feeling like the most unattractive girl alive. Part emotional and part hormonal, I was in a sad state that evening.
So while sitting there in our closet, knee-deep in a pile of clothes I suddenly loathed and feeling sorry for myself, I decided that it was high time I snapped out of this ridiculous self-loathing. Hello, I just had a baby! Of course I don’t look the same. And it was absolutely okay that I didn’t feel the same, too. It was hard for me to really pinpoint what was wrong, but I knew it had to change.
Now my son is about to be a year old and it’s taken just as long to get my groove back. I’m not talking about weight here, or even specifically looking good in clothes or feeling attractive… I mean feeling like ME. Funny, vivacious, attractive me! At least that’s how my Mom describes me.
But really, here are some things that helped:
1. Get ready. (Almost) every single day.
Now, I am definitely one for yoga pants and tank tops when I’m lounging around the house, but when you’re a stay at home Mom or a Mom who is taking some time off, day after day of not getting ready might start to make you feel crazy. However, there is a fabulous breed of women who don’t even need to get ready to feel good (my friend Shirley is so effortlessly chic she can roll out of bed and look/feel amazing), and maybe that’s you. But there are also women like me, who really feel better throwing on some tinted moisturizer and mascara. When I take even a few minutes to primp a little, I always feel a better and more confident, and that starts to seep into other areas of my life, too. So even if you’re a new Mom who isn’t planning on leaving your house for a few days, still take a second and do something that makes you feel good. Paint your nails, put on some blush…or even the basics, like brushing those teeth. Although hopefully you’re already on top of that.
2. Be kind to yourself.
I’ve always been an avid magazine reader, pop-culture aficionado, whatever you want to call it. I love looking at all of the “Dos and Don’ts” in those silly (amazing) magazines, who’s pregnant, who’s cheating on who, who wore what, where. Give me the trashiest gossip magazine and you can consider me occupied for a good hour. One thing I’ve always noticed, though, is how much those magazines focus on weight – how much so-and-so has lost or gained, how you-know-who shed her baby weight in one week, all of the details of a 800-calorie a day “detox-diet”. Important stuff, right? And after reading so many articles about various new Moms being bikini ready in one week, I started to feel like maybe I should also also feel ready for such things. Or at least already be back to my normal size. Seriously, though? Give me a break. I had far more important things to focus on, but there I was, beating myself up because I wasn’t back in my skinny jeans. I think it’s so important to give your body the time it needs to just do what it has to do, be it healing, feeding your child through nursing, whatever. You sustained a life for close to a year, and I feel like a lot of the time we as new Moms forget this and are too hard on ourselves. Be kind.
3. Realize your identity doesn’t have to be only a Mom.
This was the best realization I came to. Sure, that little person thrives because of you, but girlfriend, you gotta do YOU. You have to go out with your friends, your sister, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband, whatever. You are a Mom, but you are not just a Mom. I think once you break out of that routine even for a couple of hours and shake it up, go out on the town, whatever, you will feel more like you in no time. Recently I went on a girls’ trip to Las Vegas with a few of my favorite ladies and it was absolutely bizarre to have two days to do as I pleased. I slept in a little (and by a little I mean 7:30am), took two leisurely hours to get ready each night and indulged in doing little stints of absolutely nothing. My friends and I girl talked for hours on end, ate delicious food and danced well into the night. It was glorious. And although I missed my son and husband like crazy, this trip was so good for me. I came home feeling refreshed and ready to get back to my normal life, and I fully attribute that weekend to finishing up my “getting my groove back” journey. And it’s not like you have to go to Vegas to do it. Any old fun place, be it a local bar, bowling alley, or heck, even Applebee’s with friends just may do the trick.
So how about you? Are you a Mom? Did you have a hard time adjusting after having a baby? How long did it take for you to full feel like your “old self?” I’d love to hear more!
image via thegloc.net