The Stranger in the Mirror

Deep crevices like tire tracks across my belly. Clothes hugging in places they never have before… falling off in others. Roots streaked with gray. The beginnings of wrinkles forming around my eyes… whether from lack of sleep or lots of laughter, you can be the judge.

Being a mom changes you. Emotionally, mentally, and physically. Sometimes when I look in the mirror I expect to see a 20 year old smiling back. I shock myself at how much I have changed in half a decade.

For a lot of women, giving birth can cause the biggest shock to self esteem that we will ever have. Why? Because we change. Because we no longer have our pre-baby body, and you sometimes feel like you are in a scene from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

We spend almost an entire year growing LIFE. A tiny human. Our bodies aren’t our own from that first month, but the change is slow. Adjustment over time is easy. But once you give birth, the change is instant and shocking. I remember feeling like a half inflated water balloon immediately after birth. My baby’s absence felt so foreign. Like I was missing a body part. There was a literal crevice in my gut where he used to be, and I was reminded every time I felt my stomach.

As your body begins to heal, you think things will go back to normal, but they don’t. You are left with a body foreign to your touch. After breastfeeding and losing the baby weight, I feel less like a water balloon and more like a deflated balloon!

Now don’t get me wrong, almost a year post-baby and I am the healthiest I have been since high school. But my body is not my own. I’m still getting used to it.

During this year long journey of self-esteem and self-discovery, I have realized some things.

I am stronger than I ever thought I could be.

I am just like my mother. Even though I swore that would never happen…

I am fiercely loyal.

I am an introvert, and that is okay!

The house doesn’t need to be clean 100% of the time. Learn to relax!

I can be a bit of a control freak. See above. I can’t fix everything!

Find exercise that you enjoy – you don’t have to kill yourself to work out!

Long baths before bed are extremely therapeutic.

Clean food is the best food! Your body will thank you.

I am a great problem solver.

It is ok to ask for help! Don’t be stubborn.

But also learn to trust your gut!

Shut down the mommy guilt. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

My husband loves me even when I don’t love myself.

And most of all, I was born to be a mom.

When I look in the mirror, I see someone I didn’t know before. But I see someone I am excited to be! I look at my fading stretch marks, or “Eli Kisses” as I call them, and I am glad they are there. What a perfect reminder of strength, love, and family! As his first year comes to a close, I look back in awe at how far we have come! Growth and change can be painful. But they can also be good! Trust yourself, trust God, and get to know that stranger in the mirror.

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