When I was a stay at home mom with a preschooler, a toddler, and a newborn it was tough to get through the day, let alone practice self care. There was a lot to be done to take of them and my husband. And yet, the amount of love I felt for those babies and my guy was very overwhelming.
It sounds a little cliche, but it’s true...I truly didn’t know that kind of love until I was a mom. I never knew it was possible to love someone THAT much.
In fact, I think that was the most overwhelming part of becoming a mother. I was overcome with joy and gratitude for these precious beings, but there was a downside. That love caused me to become even more immersed in my perfectionist ways.
I poured everything I had into those children because I wanted to be the perfect mom. I spent years striving for perfection and always fell short. I never felt I was doing a good enough job. I didn’t want to be a mom that did the bare minimum. I wanted to be the “above and beyond” mom. This took it’s toll on me and my soul.
There got to be a time when my children were older and needed me less when I was able to realize the damage I’d done to myself. I’d spent all those years loving on everyone else, but hating on myself and never giving myself any credit for all I was doing.
Looking back on this time I can see five things I did to myself regularly that you might consider clues that you’re hating on yourself, too. Some of this is a little painful to admit, but it’s my truth.
1. I spoke to myself in a way that I’d never speak to someone else.
Seriously. I’d never say these things to my friends, but this is the commentary that was constantly running through my head...
“You’re such a shitty mom because a good mom doesn’t lose her temper. A good mom is patient with her kids.”
“Your poor husband. He didn’t know he’d end up with someone like you.You’re certainly not the woman he married.”
“You suck. A good mom cooks a healthy home cooked meal every night. She doesn’t serve chicken nuggets.”
2. I hated on my body every time I got dressed.
Every time I caught a glimpse of myself naked I started with the crappy thoughts again, but this time about my body.
I struggled to find things in my closet that I liked wearing and felt good in. Here are the thoughts that were on replay...
“You’re so fat!”
“You’ll never lose all this weight.”
“You should’ve lost this baby weight by now. You’re so lazy.”
“All the other moms are so much prettier than you because, well, look at you!”
Deep down, I also knew how I was eating (it wasn’t salad!) and that I wasn’t doing much exercise. Not eating well and not exercising was doing nothing to counteract these thoughts about my body. In fact, it added fuel to the fire.
3. I hid inside my house, and I said no to a lot of things.
Don’t get me wrong, I was always out and about, but mostly where my kids were concerned. I wasn’t making plans with friends very often. I felt better, safer, at home.
I didn’t openly share about myself with others because I felt like I had nothing to contribute to the conversations. After all, I was just a mom, and I didn’t have much going for myself.
AND when I did go to a party or gathering, I almost always struggled to find something to wear.
4. I denied myself pleasure because I didn’t feel like I deserved it.
I didn’t make having cute clothes a priority because I was a stay at home mom. I didn’t need things like that, except when I did. Then it was a problem.
I also stayed in stress mode because I wasn’t taking care of my body. I didn’t move my body. I didn’t go for massages. I didn’t feel like I deserved it because I didn’t exercise or feed myself well. Massages and luxurious things like that were for women who were in shape.
I denied myself a lot of things, like expensive handbags, fancy makeup, or nicer clothes because I thought it was selfish. Mom’s don’t do that sort of thing. They put everyone else first. You know, like a martyr.
5. I numbed my true feelings of overwhelm, stress, exhaustion, and feeling less than with food.
All of these feelings fed my need to be rewarded for making it through each day. A reward was having an oreo (or seven) after the kids were in bed.
Or if it was a particularly bad day, I’d sneak in the pantry for the cookies that I “bought for the kids” while they were occupied in the playroom.
I mean I’d never let my kids have oreos just for the hell of it. I’d never let them eat poorly. But those sweets sure helped me get through the long days and evenings.
Food was a comfort from stress. It was a reward for making it through the day. It was a comfort from loneliness.
You can clearly see how these things are all related to one another. One of them feeds into the other.
I have since been able to change this part of my story. I’ve done a crap ton of work around all of this and now it’s my pleasure and privilege to show other women how to change this part of their story, too.
Life is so much better now that I’m able to love myself and have compassion for myself and my body. It’s better when I’m not comparing myself to other women.
Am I perfect at this? Absolutely not. It’s a process and a journey just like everything else in life.
If you want to have some tools to begin changing your story, I urge you to join my FREE FB group, Live Your Legacy Now. That’s where I share my ongoing journey with all of this and give you free tools to help you make some changes. It’s a great place to connect with other amazing women.
I hope to see you there!