Motherhood + Finding Your Beauty
When I started this blog, I had a lot of feelings to get out on my early stages of motherhood. Lately, that's been more difficult for me to do. Our days all blend together, and I am really quite content with how things are going. Though being a mother is something that is still new for me, I find that this is a place that I am meant to be living in. When I look back at my life before Tad, I never had a purpose. There was no one road that I found myself wandering down, but instead always taking short cuts, sharp turns, and discovering new brush to break through. I always liked to think of myself as a rule follower; someone who looked at a leader and said, "Okay. I can do that for you." and in some ways, I still am. I think I enjoy showing respect to others if they are leading me. but I feel that now I am choosing to break away from all of that. That small spark of independence that I carried around has grown much bigger since then. I am forging new paths, taking on a career that most would think is unreliable and not safe and not real, and raising a small human at a young age. I feel powerful and mature and whole.
But sometimes, I lie awake at night, after Tad has long drifted off to sleep and I fall into the internet. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Those of you that network like I do, and those of you who don't, we all have our internet guilty pleasure. Mine isn't really that scandalous; I like to read Buzzfeed at night, which to most (myself included) is a really inaccurate news source. Whatever. It's like reading a bad tabloid magazine most nights, but I start to go back into myself and say, "You are 21-years-old, have you forgotten?" Most days, I do. I forget that I'm 21. There are some parts of my former life that I shut out, like wondering what old friends are doing, thinking about going out, failing and failing because maybe I could have afforded to do that more if I were an average college student.
I lie awake in bed at night, reading Buzzfeed (cringes), reading Facebook, watching people in relationships, and eventually getting to the point of will this ever happen for me (and also the point of this blog post). While I was pregnant, I had plenty of insecurity issues. I was a self-pronounced single mother within days of learning of my pregnancy, so I didn't really worry about relationships much. I wasn't ready. My stomach grew larger and larger, my nose even more so, I was glowing, but I was nervous. What would happen after the baby came out? Would I ever be able to see myself pleasing anyone with my appearance after? Even writing that now makes my heart hurt. Immediately (well, not immediately) after giving birth, when I was able to stand up after having a c-section and take a look at myself in a mirror, I was shocked but I was also humbled and happy. I had done really well at maintaining a healthy weight and taking care of myself. I had worked really hard to eat well, exercise, and make sure my baby was growing without risks.
I remember looking at my reflection and seeing my stapled stomach, the stretched and puffed skin of my abdomen, relieved and exhausted after carrying around a nine pound infant for the last ten months, and saying, "It's not that bad." and what I was really saying was, "I will be beautiful again." But I needed to stop. I had to stop right there and remind myself, this is beautiful. Giving birth is beautiful, and everything after is more so. So I forgave myself then for even thinking of pleasing anyone, any man, with my appearance from there on out. This was who I was now.
Eventually my body returned back to normal. I breastfed for a year, lost 10 extra pounds while doing so, stopped breastfeeding, gained the 10 pounds back along with saggy breasts, a saggy tummy, faded stretch marks, hairy legs, and a load of acne that I was not expecting. My nose went back to normal and so did my emotions. I dated someone new for a handful of months in there, fell in love, felt worthy of my new skin, and had my heart broken. It still hurts a little. It's been 8 months of not breastfeeding, and I am changed. My body is not the same anymore.
And I lie awake in bed at night, and I feel really bad about that difference some times. I know I am not alone in feeling this way; the internet kind of makes you wonder if you're ever alone in anything, but this is a different emotion for me. I am teetering back and forth between feelings of empowerment + acceptance along with grief + confusion.
In short, I don't think about my appearance on a daily basis. I put it out of my head and I get on with my day. My beauty routine is basically gone, and when I take the time to check myself out, I find that I am satisfied with what is there. It's that simple! Truly. I have better things to do with my time than think about if my face looks good enough for Target. Right?
Then are the moments where I think about having a relationship. Something that I never worried about before begins to creep in like a thick fog. My anxiety reaches out, grasps at my confidence bubble and takes a little stab at it. I am afraid of letting a man in, for more reasons than one, but this one is strange to me. I am afraid of my own body; it's so different now and foreign to me. It's not the same as it was before, and I start to become sad that it won't hold the same level of beauty that I found it did then. For I lie there in bed and tell myself, "You're average. You're making it by. You're doing okay." And 9 out of 10 days, I am satisfied with that. But part of me wonders if I should be. Should I be giving myself more credit than that? Do I need to give myself a pep talk or can I be okay with just being alone?
The answer: it's probably the pep talk. But I could be okay being alone, though I don't want my excuse for being alone to be because I am afraid of being with someone else, and for now, I am totally afraid. My trust in men is very slim, and I am okay with admitting that. I think I have enough reasons to be that way, but I will admit that I am working on it. For someone who has been given flack for the way they use their body (see my essay on body hair), I think now that I have found my own self-worth and love for my own body, I am finding it really difficult to let someone else come in and love it, too, like someone else won't appreciate all the hard work it has done as much I do. That is such a huge mountain to walk over, and I am not at the top yet. I'm going to get there, I know I will.
For now, reminding myself that I am worthy of love. I am worthy of love.
I'm wearing: Riva Maxi Dress c/o Conscious Clothing // Go Long Crew c/o Albion Fit
Tad's wearing: Gnome Bonnet // Turtleneck c/o Fin + Vince // Linen Jacket c/o Conscious Clothing // Hemp Pizza Pants c/o Conscious Clothing