I ran into my first love a few months ago. I was wearing pale pink jeans and a jumper that said the word ‘mama’. Of all the outfits I could have been wearing when I ran into an ex, it probably wouldn’t have been my first choice. The jeans are, well, pale pink and if not for the size, would probably be sorted into my daughter’s wardrobe pile, not mine. We had a polite, slightly awkward conversation while examining each other’s appearance. We were looking at each other with the same thing going through our minds: same, same, but different...
You see, my outfit said it all: “Hello, I am not a carefree 18-year-old anymore. I am a responsible mama”. Just in case he missed the huge word on my sweater, I had two kids by my side. I couldn’t hide it. It’s not that I would ever want to hide the fact that I’m a mama – it’s the thing I’m most proud of in life – but I was staring a big part of my youth right in the eyes and it felt like an eternity had passed. It struck me that I’m a very different person now. There’s always a part of you that wants to hold onto that carefree spirit. But motherhood makes you feel suddenly very grown-up, and, the truth is, sometimes mumsy and lacking in confidence. Why do we feel this way? Why do we fill our minds with negative self-talk after we’ve birthed babies? Why aren’t we celebrating ourselves?
When I’m with my kids, there are moments where my heart melts, but for the most part, it’s exhausting. All of us feel exhausted. There’s certainly nothing glamorous about being a mama (thank god there’s so much love in the air). And if we’re not wiping down the kitchen bench for the 100th time that day, we’re walking around the house picking up Lego. Or pleading with our children to please get in the bath. Or please go to sleep. Or please put on their shoes. Or please to stop fighting. If you have a newborn, your life revolves around sleep. How long each nap goes for and how much you can achieve in that short window of time. There’s no one there to tell you that you’re doing a great job when it’s just you and the kids. No boss to give you a promotion or a bonus. No positive feedback from colleagues. On a good day, the washing pile will be empty, there’ll be food in the fridge and the kids will go down without a fight and you’ll feel like you’re winning. On a bad day, there’s usually tears and a wine at 5pm. But remember, while much of your day might feel like it’s filled with mindless tasks, they’re so much bigger than you think. Just being present for your kids is shaping them into secure, happy little people for life. You’re making a bigger difference than you give yourself credit for.
We can skip the physical changes you go through as a mama. The pressure to get back to our pre-pregnancy size and stay there. The pressure to not look tired. It’s near impossible, of course. Have you ever met a mother who isn’t tired? So just accept it and don’t feel bad about it. Because if our self-esteem is low, how are we meant to raise children with high self-esteem? Here’s what you need to remind yourself (even on those bad days): you’re more beautiful than you were before you had kids. Repeat it: I am more beautiful than I was before I had kids. Say it again and again. And then tell yourself that you are worthy.
I often hear my friends say ‘I just want to feel normal’ or ‘I feel like my body will never be the same’. So here it is: it probably won’t ever be the same. My girlfriends and I will sit at the beach and discuss our boobs and the general consensus is that they’ll never be the same. But that’s ok. Why do we fight it so much? Why can’t we be proud of the changes in our body instead of constantly putting ourselves down? We carry babies! We feed babies! So what if our tummy is a bit wobbly. Who cares! My approach these days is to prioritise exercise (I try and exercise at least three times a week) and to mostly eat well (MaltEaster bunnies are making this difficult – why does Easter start in February?). I love chocolate and wine, and I’m not about to start depriving myself. Life’s too short for that and people who diet tend to be pretty cranky and, frankly, a tad boring.
So it’s time to change my mindset and this year, be kinder to myself. We should all be kinder to ourselves. To start focusing on self-love and look after me better. To focus on the positives. And to spend more time doing things that make me feel a little like my old self. I love getting dressed up and going out for dinner with my husband or friends. I’ll put on an outfit that I’d never wear around the kids – basically, anything with the tag ‘dry-clean only’ on it does the trick.
That mumsy-ness we all feel from time to time is actually one of the reasons I started The Grace Tales. Everything I read about motherhood depicted it in this daggy light, as if the minute you have children, any sense of style just vanishes. We celebrate motherhood in style. It’s also why Marisa Remond and I have launched ‘Grace Styling’, a personal styling business, which helps mothers get back on their fashion feet back.
So next time I run into an ex and I’m wearing my ‘mama’ jumper, I’m going to be proud of my new-ish life stage because life now is more rewarding than it has ever been before and cuddles and kisses from my kids beat any job promotion.
Do you ever feel lacking in confidence or mumsy? If so, what makes you feel better? Comment below
Images: Grace Alyssa Kyo