What is a mom "supposed" to look like anyways?

A few months ago I was grocery shopping with my husband and son in the Commissary (military grocery store) when I overheard someone say, “I will never let myself look like that when I’m a mom.” Those words were like a punch to the gut and I wanted nothing more than to breakdown and cry in the middle of the produce department. Now mind you, this girl was probably 10 years younger than me, rail thin, and had more makeup on her face than I’ve used in my entire lifetime – we all know that girl. That comment has been eating away at me for months, and yet I did nothing to change what people thought of me. Then it hit me. 

What is a mom even supposed to look like?! 

This preconceived idea that as soon as we have a baby, we’re supposed to bounce back to this “pre-baby” body is insane. And by the way, I absolutely hate when I hear people talking about their “pre-baby” body. The way it’s talked about is like we should be ashamed of what our bodies just went through. Newsflash, carrying a baby around for 9+ months, and then having to give birth is damn hard! We give ourselves no grace for what our bodies go through, and instead we count down the days until we can get back to the gym and shed the baby weight. Maybe I’m delusional, but those 6 weeks after I had my son came and went, and I did not so much as blink an eye. In fact, it took me almost 5 months until I wanted to do anything besides snuggle my baby. I was perfectly happy sitting on the couch doing nothing…until the comments from family and friends regarding my weight slowly started to creep in, and I began questioning myself as a mom.

Growing up, I constantly heard my mom say how much she hated the way she looked and was always trying some new fad diet (and still does today). My relationship with food was horrible. I was a competitive swimmer (yes, it’s a sport) for over 15 years, and I vividly remember being on the Zone Diet (remember that one?) all through high school. Well, that shitty relationship I built with food carried over to college, and I eventually quit swimming competitively because I just wasn’t’ fueling my body and I couldn’t compete like I used to. I was devastated, but was convinced I could get ahold of my relationship with food. Well, here we are 10 years later and I still struggle with the same issues. 

It wasn’t until my husband left for training earlier this year (hello military lifestyle) that I committed myself to being the best mom I could be, and that meant taking care of myself so that I could take care of my son. Shortly after my husband left, my son was admitted to the hospital, where I laid in bed with him for 3 days. It wasn’t until I started talking to the nurse (the same nurse that helped deliver my son – ironic? I think not) that I realized I had been struggling with Postpartum Depression. In that moment, it was like a light bulb went off, and everything I had been feeling over the past year was starting to make sense. That was the turning point in my quest to become a healthier version of myself – not to get back to my “pre-baby” weight. 

Since that day, I have happily lost 60+ pounds (and counting), regained my self-confidence, overhauled my eating habits (I hate the word diet – it’s so negative and restrictive), and am happier than I’ve been in a long time. I recently had a “friend” (and I say it like that, because, well you’ll see) that asked me if I was ashamed that I hadn’t lost all the weight I put on while pregnant. This same friend never gained a single pound while pregnant, just the weight of the baby. Lucky her, huh? I felt so insulted by her comment that I haven’t talked to her since, and I can’t say that I miss her friendship, or lack thereof. Mom shaming is a topic for another day, but where is the sense of support we’re supposed to give from one mom to another? 

My goal was never to lose weight, but to find a better version of myself. I don’t care if I my weight ever gets back to where I was before I got pregnant, because I worked damn hard to get where I am. We never give ourselves any grace as moms, and put so much pressure on ourselves to have that hot mom body (whatever that is?!). I don’t know about you, but my stretch marks and stretched out tummy is the perfect reminder as to just how great my life is. I want to teach my son that there is only ever one you, in the entire world, so love yourself at every stage in life, and give yourself a little grace. 

We are constantly working towards a better self, so from one mom to another, you’re doing a damn good job – just incase you needed a reminder!