Meet Karen. She's a Latina in tech, mother to baby Victoria, wife, daughter, sister and still figuring out the rest, one day a time. This is the first of a series of Karen's "Learning To Mother" series.
Those first few weeks postpartum were such a daze. I was so consumed by love and emotion that even at my lowest point, I was grateful for my body that had created my beautiful baby girl, Victoria.
But just as the adrenaline of this new season faded, so did my appreciation for my body and new role in life.
Between hormones, sleep deprivation, and general loss of identity, I didn’t know how to even begin the process of appreciating myself again.
Give yourself grace, they say. It took 9 months to get here, so it’ll take time to get back.
It felt so easy for everyone to say that. Yet there I was, 6 months postpartum, weighing more than I did after giving birth (thanks to my ravishing hunger from pumping and basically eating all my emotions and anxiety for months), struggling to figure out how to make my way back to the old me.
It’s really hard when, rationally, you know what you should be feeling, yet emotionally you’re so far from it. How would I be able to shut out the mean girl in my head, who notices one positive thing when I look in the mirror, but then follows that thought with “but….” - I just didn’t see a way out.
As 6 months turned to 7, and then 8, Victoria started paying more attention, noticing things like when I’m wearing glasses, getting dressed up, or if I did my hair differently.
This is when the wake-up call hit: She’s looking at me. She’s learning from me. And eventually, she’ll look up to me.
It was all quite simple from there. Be the woman you want your child to see.
Do I want to teach her about self-love while secretly tormenting myself with my thoughts about how bad I look today? Absolutely not. She’d see right through me. And what a terrible feeling to even think about lying to my daughter so much.
I know I won’t just be able to wake up one day and fit back into my go-to jeans. I have a long journey ahead, so in meantime this is what I’m doing to learn to love myself again:
- It’s in the little things. Find little things that help you feel good. In my case, I bought a couple of new necklaces, headbands and rings that simply make me feel a little more put together even if I’ve been wearing the same leggings for two days.
- It’s fine, buy the larger size. It’s crazy how hung up I got on this one, but come on. Buy some new outfits in a larger size (yes, also jeans!) This isn’t defining your life, it’s just a small way to feel better. And for crying out loud, it’s just a number.
- Do something you’re good at a few times a week. Even at our worst moments, we know a handful of things we can do with our eyes closed. In my case, I use my creativity to come up with baby-led weaning meals for Victoria. Find what your thing is, and do it often. It helps build your confidence without too much work.
- Spend some time in nature. I promise you, it does miracles. By no means am I referring to putting on a bikini and going to the beach (I mean, if it’s with your kid, just do it because it’s not worth sacrificing the memories you’ll make). But for most days, I just mean grab you baby and go for a walk; show them all the life that surrounds you. Take your mind’s focus off of you, and on to something different.
- See yourself through their eyes. You know that feeling when you’ve been out of the house for a bit, and you walk in, and your kid notices you? That smile. That joy. See yourself like that. You generate that, because you are incredible to your baby. Embrace it when you’re alone and look in the mirror.
Now, I know…
Some days you just wake up in a funk, and it’s hard. Those days matter too because they make space for reflection and growth. But what’s most important is to keep going and love yourself the way your baby loves you.