Frumpy as a Mother
Written By: Danielle Hall
I always dreamed of being a mother. More specifically, a boy mom.
From a very early age, I envisioned how I wanted to raise my children and planned the things we would do together and the trips we would take as a family. I would do everything in my power to give them the life that every kid dreams about.
By some stroke of grace and luck, I was blessed with two amazing sons.
Just as instant as a mother’s heart fills with love for her child, my soul rapidly yearned to execute those dreams and plans for their lives. The feeling and pressure didn’t overcome me in small, slow ripples, but a tidal wave that engulfed my entire being.
In a split second, they were my life.
There was no question.
There was no doubt.
People don’t have to look far to find information on getting themselves back to pre-kid status.
Lists, tips, tricks, articles, books all aimed at making a woman feel like she did before the bundle of joy took over her life. The moms who are past the baby stage fast forward to the abundant “life balance” genre.
Not me. I pressed forward, plunging deeper and deeper into the day-to-day challenges of being a working mother.
My relentless quest to be a present mother, provider, and funder of their dreams never wavered.
I was dedicated.
I was motivated.
I was competitive.
I was determined.
I was also lost.
I was unrecognizable.
I was burnt out.
I didn’t know it.
By my 42nd birthday, the mirror should have reflected the mom and successful career woman I always hoped I would be.
My boys were 11 and 13 and doing well in their lives. The career I built and worked so hard for was doing better than ever. Yet, there was this frumpy, chubby thing staring back at me.
I looked old and exhausted.
This image didn’t coincide with the victories and accolades I earned at work or the successes my boys had at school and in sports. Everything I had given, everything I dismissed as unnecessary because it seemed too trivial or shallow compared to what my family needed, was now back to haunt me.
The deficiency I felt was swallowing me whole and crippling me in self-doubt and low self-esteem, an all-consuming feeling affecting every facet of my life.
How can a woman work so hard and commit to putting others first be so miserable? Was this not what I was called to do? Had I somehow missed the mark?
The funny thing about image and beauty is that it is associated more with wrinkle treatments and fillers at a certain age. I wasn’t opposed to trying those. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I needed. I knew that my internal happiness had to play a part in beauty.
Pinpointing that was a great place to start.
The first step was permitting myself to spend some of my time and money on me.
The boys always had top-of-the-line sports equipment, clothes, and shoes. Meanwhile, I was budgeting a whopping three bucks for my concealer. It was just another nod to the lack of balance.
Sleep was another issue. I was depriving myself of sleep to finish everything for my family. It had to stop. So when I was tired, I went to bed. It was now about accepting ownership over my health and well-being and letting others take over areas of their own lives that I previously felt the need to control.
Next, the people-pleasing had to take a back seat. With it, the realization that my effort and problem-solving did not control the entire universe. It wasn’t until I made myself a priority that I even recognized the amount of stress I was carrying and what it had done to the image of a once fun, healthy, and fun-loving gal.
While this may not sound like a traditional beauty treatment, my face softened. My shoulders and jaw relaxed. The stress eating slowed. My head was clearing. A slightly more youthful radiance slowly peaked through.
A glow only emerges with happiness and contentment and the freedom of self-discovery and internal peace. Age was not reversing in numbers or pounds dropping off with no effort, but there was now a familiarity to my reflection and not the kind from which I wanted to run.
My path to looking like my best self and the ever-ambitious goal of aging gracefully is a long-distance sport.
There is plenty of work to do.
I still get a slight twinge of guilt when I treat myself to a luxurious lip gloss or take two hours on a Saturday morning to get my nails done instead of slaving away, making the boys a pancake breakfast before their games.
I am better than I was.
There is hope and momentum in forming new healthy habits.
The very people I gave so much of myself for seem happier with my newfound self-confidence. The boys have not lost out. Their lives are not deficient because I took time and money to care for myself, my image, or my happiness.
Quite the contrary. My rediscovered radiance and my confidence that had been lacking for so long enriched their lives. They are proud of their mom.
That very thing might make me feel the prettiest I have ever felt.
I only hope that other moms out there learn quicker than I did that giving motherhood your everything and being mindful of your own needs are not mutually exclusive. The two should be a harmonious endeavor.
Everyone benefits from a mom that feels good about herself.
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