Do you know how many articles, memes, gifs, and cartoons there are out there that talk about moms in yoga pants? Moms with messy hair. Moms who haven’t showered in days. Moms who are wearing yesterday’s clothes. (Probably yoga pants.)
Even before I became a mom, I anticipated motherhood to mean not caring as much about what I wore, what I looked like or how long it had been since I showered. And after becoming a mom, I definitely lived up to that anticipation. Not to say that mothering littles isn’t deserving of yoga pants, choosing sleep over showers and throwing your hair on top of your head. #momlife is a very popular hashtag for a reason.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I did shower…once in a while. I dressed up and put makeup on…occasionally. But mostly, I have lived my everyday life in yoga pants and baggy t-shirts. Hair in a messy bun, no trace of makeup. My legs were hardly ever shaved, and way too often I was eating my feelings of exhaustion, loneliness and being overwhelmed.
Don’t even ask me about feeling sexy for my husband. Sexiness was NON-existent. That word felt like the very last thing I saw in myself. All the self-descriptive words my husband has heard from me IN YEARS include: “fat,” “greasy,” “jello-y,” “flabby…” you get the picture.
Bottom line: I had let myself go.
I let myself go to the place where confidence doesn’t exist. Where putting effort and energy in the way I looked just didn’t happen. Where compliments were met with, “ugh,” or “yea right,” or an eye roll. The place where I’d blame a good picture on the angle. And speaking of pictures…99% of my pictures were of my head up, because I hated the way my body looked.
My self-image was at an all time low, because I not only felt gross about my body, I felt helpless to do anything about it. I was an exhausted, overwhelmed mom of 2 little boys who sapped up all my energy out plus some.
To be honest, I would usually judge moms who looked like they put effort into their appearance. Wearing makeup on a Tuesday?? Who does that. Anything other than yoga pants or “athleisure?” Who does she think she is, Princess Kate?!
I blamed a lot of it on genes, (speaking of Princess Kate…) “oh she lost her baby weight in 3 months, she’s got good genes…I’m going on a year and a half, my genes suck.” You guys get the picture, I was in a low place. (And yes I was on antidepressants.) For the most part I could put a happy face on for my boys, but my poor husband has been the one to receive the brunt of my unhappiness, not to mention the dialogue of negative self talk that was constantly on repeat in my head.
I know I know, you’re probably wondering, ok, when’s she gonna get to the part where it all turns around? I’m getting there. ;)
To be honest, I didn’t have an epiphany or anything, it was more a slow, gradual realization that I wasn’t living my best life. That I was feeling on the inside the way I was portraying myself on the outside. I realized that even if I worked out 2 hours a day, every day, it wouldn’t help much if I kept eating my feelings. If I put crap in my body, I’d continue to feel like crap. So a couple months ago, I started Weight Watchers. I needed accountability. And it totally revamped the way I was eating. It helped me to see that even the little things like finishing my son’s peanut butter toast at lunch counted towards the way my body felt and looked. The snacks I ate during my kids’ nap time weren’t doing anything to help the tummy pooch I was still sporting.
I realized that although athleisure would probably be a staple in my wardrobe for a long, long time, messy buns and baggy t-shirts every day weren’t going to make me feel really good about the way I was presenting myself. You guys, I haven’t worn sleeveless shirts in YEARS because I hate my arms and shoulders. But you know what? Life is a journey, and although I’m not where I want to be, if I dress like I’m trying to hide my body, I won’t feel any better about it. Not saying I’m gonna bust out the tube tops or crop tops anytime soon (or ever), but dressing in a way that makes me feel like I’m presenting a confident me shouldn’t be something I shy away from.
Not that I feel the need to go through a complete 180 transformation, but I came to realize that certain changes would make me feel more confident and more like myself, as opposed to a frumpy, self-conscious mom who was living up to every sloppy stereotype in the book.
After thinking through ways that I felt I’d lost myself a little bit, I came up with the following physical, emotional and spiritual changes:
- I started running. If you follow my Instagram, (@mrsjenngrand) you have probably read about how a conversation with my three cousins helped me to change my perspective on running. I realized that no matter how old I was or how out of shape I was, I could still be a runner. I could start where I was and build up my endurance. And instead of running to lose weight, which would make it feel like a chore, I could run for my own sanity and soul. Losing weight would hopefully be a side effect, but not the main goal. And let me tell you, I never thought I’d say this, but I seriously LOVE running now! It’s my “me time,” my time to clear my head, to just get out and GO.
- I WENT BLONDE (again). If you’ve only known me for the past few years, and haven’t stalked my old pictures on social media, you probably have no idea that I used to be blonde. Like super blonde. Well, I’ve let my natural color grow out because I didn’t have the time or energy to maintain highlights. (Not to mention it’s been helpful to our bank account!) Confession: a few years ago I actually had my mom cut my hair in my backyard. Can you say redneck? Ha! Not knocking my mom (you did a great job- love you mom!) but it was just proof that I didn’t give one hoot about my hair or my appearance.
Going back to blonde was the very first thing that came to mind when I asked myself what would make me feel better about myself and the way I presented myself to the world. And I had to really convince myself it was ok. My natural hair wasn’t ugly, and it was certainly easier to maintain than colored hair, but the second I saw my hair lighter again, I almost cried, realizing how much more myself I felt as a blonde.
- I started really digging into who I am. Who did God create me to be? Not who do I wish I was, not who do I feel I should be. But who am I actually? And how can I live my best life out of that place.
What I’ve learned: I am a Type B wife and mom of 2 little boys. I am super relational, NOT task oriented, a dreamer and big picture person. I love reading, running and resting. Yep- you read that correctly, I love resting. (But no, that doesn’t mean I’m lazy- it’s taken me a long time to realize that distinction.) I’m no longer embarrassed to say I am just NOT the kind of person who loves being busy all day getting stuff done. I love to hang out and talk about life with my friends. On my couch. I love to sit during nap time and either read, write, or simply be. And there’s nothing wrong with that. One of my mentors titled it best: as a Type B-er herself, she dubbed us, “women at rest.” And she’s amazing, so if she’s living her best life out of being woman at rest, I can too.
I have a lot of Type A friends (including my husband!) and it has taken a long time for me to stop comparing myself to them and constantly feeling less than them. Let me tell you, they know how to get crap done. They have very large capacities for tasks. They teach their kids pre-school curriculum at age 2. They make pinterest look like child’s play. You know what? Good for them! For real. God created them that way, and He did it for a reason. I am so glad my husband is task oriented because if he wasn’t, nothing would get done around our house. But when it comes to slowing down and spending time as a family, or getting some good quality time together? Encouraging others, loving those in my life and caring for people? That, I’m good at.
Ok, I could write a whole blog post on this topic (and I’m planning on it!) so I’ll stop there. You get the point. I’m finally living confidently in my Type B-ness, and not shrinking away feeling like a failure from not living up to who I thought I should be.
- Lastly, I focused on figuring out my passions and how I can live them out in a way that ministers to others. Things such as: authenticity on social media (and in life), encouraging and laughing with friends, reaching out to our neighbors, inviting people into our home, loving on my boys, writing, reading, running and inviting others to enter into those things with me. Those are things I love, and those are where I want my life to be. The legacy I want to leave. Similarly to what I said about being Type B, I’ve been figuring out what ignites fire in me, what brings me life, what makes me feel like God created me for just that, and how I can live out of it.
Even as I read back over those changes I’ve been implementing in my life, I know these may seem a tad large or overly zealous, but they’ve been a long time coming. I used to be so obsessed with my weight. Literally, ask my friends from college- I used to talk about my weight and ask them whether I looked fat ALL. THE. TIME. I’m definitely not where I want to be in that aspect, but I’ve never felt more confident. A friend from my church small group told me the other day, “I’ve noticed over the past few months that you have a new glow to you- like you finally know who you are and you’re loving it.” And I was so encouraged in that moment that I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’m not trying to be someone I’m not. I’m accepting and learning how to love exactly who I am.
I’m living out of a much healthier place, both physically, mentally and spiritually, and that’s what really counts. I’m not going to let myself go any longer. I’m not going to just not care, and use the excuse that I’m a mom and that motherhood is just too hard to care about myself. Yes, there are personal sacrifices that come with becoming a mother. But that doesn’t mean I have to turn into a martyr or a slob. I still may not shower every day (unless I’ve worked out that day, cause, yuck) and I still might wear yoga pants or capris more days than not, and I still might throw my hair up occasionally, but I want to do so with intention. Rock the messy bun, but add a little mascara…nothing wrong with showing I care in the midst of a crazy life. You only live once, right? I want to live my best life possible, and that means caring about the life I live.