Love yourself... and do all the hard things April 30, 2016 13:38 4 Comments

Alright guys, Saturday morning sappy post to all my mamas...

being mom is hard.

We know this, nothing novel here. 

Seeing your body do the miraculous accordion effect that happens with having babies... is absolutely beautiful.. but hard.

And it isn't like we're playing with a full deck here either.

Post partum depression hit me like a ton of bricks after having Mags. 

Her early hospitalization, on top of the "normal" sleep deprivation, re-balancing hormones, adjusting to a whole new balance of day-to-day crazy... all road blocks to feeling like a somewhat well-adjusted human being. And I hit a really dark, yucky, non-functioning place.

Now, feeling like I don't recognize the woman in the mirror?

That's the one I still battle with the most. 

But, I have a daughter now...

And she's lit a fire under my butt to figure out this whole self-esteem thing.

Cause I'll be damned if my daughter grows up with anything less than a strong, confident, healthy woman as an example. 

So here's my two cents on rebuilding that confidence and reacquainting yourself with your post-baby mind and body, for what it's worth:

You're going to get a lot of advice; take it all with a grain of salt. Just like when you were pregnant, lots of people will weigh in. You'll hear everything from "You'll lose the weight if you breastfeed" to "it's not safe to lose weight while breastfeeding." Yeah, not that simple on either end. Just smile, nod and keep on truckin'.

Babies are not an excuse to be unhealthy. Guys, I don't mean that having babies should in no way influence your capacity for some elusive, diligent exercise and meal planning. Let's be real here. But being pregnant and/or having little ones is NOT an excuse to shrug off self-care and trying to live a healthy lifestyle. These babies need you at your best, healthiest and most energized. If it isn't motivation enough to do it for yourself right now, remember they're watching and absorbing. 

Be your best example. Society, in some ways, tells us our job as parents is to make sure kids have unforgettable, magical childhoods. I'd argue that my main purpose as a parent is to help shape my children into compassionate, healthy, hard-working, well-adjusted adults... and that starts with me learning to be a more compassionate, healthy, hard-working, and well-adjusted adult. This will look different for each of us. It will be far from a perfect picture. It may even seem exhausting and burdensome sometimes, but this is your role as a parent, so ya know... put on your big girl panties and suck it up buttercup.  

Be self-protective, but not selfish. I think our generation spends a little too much time thinking about how to preserve their cozy self-bubble rather than enveloping those they love into it. This stage of life is fleeting. Don't lose yourself in it and do the things you need to keep yourself centered, but learn to find joy and fulfillment in becoming a little more selfless as a parent. 

Find YOUR balance. My nature is the complete opposite of balanced. I like to work at all hours of the night, I obsess over projects and ideas until I have them perfectly how I'd like, and I am really, really hard on myself. But I'm slowly developing more balanced routines... because it's important. Consistency, balance, dependability are crucial to relationships. If you're like me and absolutely suck at those things? Work a little harder at them. 

Love yourself. No matter your motivation to improve or continue a healthy lifestyle, there are things about yourself that just aren't the same after kids. No matter how fit I was after my son, the constant swelling in my ankles hung around and only worsened after my daughter. Things will change, embrace it, own it, rock it. But don't let it deter you from influencing what you can control.  

Be your own best coach. All those road blocks I talked about at the beginning of this post can make it really difficult to do all the other things we're talking about here. I'm not discounting that. Nor have I mastered any kind of easy solution. Overcoming PPD/Anxiety means finding a way to break a vicious cycle of physical and emotional depression. That's gonna be a little different for everybody. 

For me, I realized that it wasn't going to get any easier. I had to convince myself to just do it anyway, to start anyway, in spite of how hard it was. The cool thing? I realized I was a hell of a lot stronger than I knew. 

Getting to the gym with a baby is hard. Don't wait for it to be easy. You can do hard things.

Getting to the gym with two babies... is hard. Don't wait for it to be easy. You can do hard things.

Making good choices about food... is hard. Don't wait for it to be easy. You can do hard things.

Making healthy decisions after a week, month, or year of unhealthy ones, is hard.

But really, the hardest part is starting. Don't wait for it to be easy. You can do hard things.

 

Sam & Maggie helping mama lift <3