I caught myself in the mirror this morning as I was hurriedly rushing out the door for a pediatrician appointment and realized that, no doubt about it, I was looking back at a mom. I was wearing grey, ever so slightly too short yoga pants, a black tshirt for easy nursing access, a black open cardigan and black flats. My hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail (definitely not washed this morning), my makeup was lightly done - certainly not enough to hide the bags under my eyes (yeah, a trip to the pedi's office means baby is sick, therefore not sleeping...) and glasses. And, to be perfectly honest, I liked who, and what, I saw.
And that's my struggle right now: allowing myself to like this watered down, less put together and much more laid back version of myself. Allowing myself to appreciate this new medium of who I am while reminding myself to walk the line between having let myself go entirely (please stop me if I head in that direction, whoever is reading this!) and releasing the inhibitions that would previously have kept me from not only going out looking like I do most of the time now - but the ones that would keep me from embracing this as who I am, and loving myself through this change.
(I came across a picture yesterday of my best friend and I in our early 20's lounging by the pool. We were tan, blonde and thin - having not birthed a total of three babies between the two of us (that's about 30 collective months of pregnancy) and nursed for a collective total of 38+ months. Sadly, I wasn't able to appreciate it back then, and I certainly didn't treat myself with the respect I deserved).
Peter mentioned the other day that I've been making disparaging remarks lately about my body and my looks. Immediately, I felt badly about that, because the truth is that despite all the "flaws" that I've got going on, I have found that for the first time in my life I love my body. It's changed from the way it used to be (and oh, how I now appreciate what I used to have!) but it's so much better for what it's accomplished. I grew a living human. I've continued to nourish her for 12+ months. The wrinkles on my face and bags around my eyes are the result of some pretty empowering experiences. I'm only 28, but when I look at my own hands, I see my mom's from when I was young. And I think I've resisted fully appreciating and loving these new parts of me because, according to airbrushed magazines, blogs, etc, this is imperfection and should be improved upon. And while I can and should work out and take care of myself for my health's sake, I'm really only referring to the emotional aspect of self-appreciation.
Because here's the thing: I'm someone's role model now. I am the biggest influence in someone's life now, and this person - my daughter - is the image of utter perfection. And I'm her mother and primary teacher. She looks to me first for approval and for guidance, and I'll be damned if the way I talk or negative thoughts about my body or appearance influence her thinking about herself. If she comes to think that she is anything less than perfect, or thinking that her physical looks need to be improved upon because I failed to set a healthy example, then I will have failed her, and I cannot let that happen.
So, I will allow myself to appreciate who I am today and what I look like. I will tell myself that I'm beautiful and I will believe it. I will treat my body with the kindness that it deserves and for so long the consideration it lacked because of what my body has done for me.