Confidence…Sometimes that word and motherhood feel like antonyms. We doubt our body’s ability to carry and deliver a healthy baby. We doubt our mind and heart’s ability to love and care for our baby. And we grow to hate the souvenirs our birthing experience left on our bodies. A few extra pounds, a swirl of stretch marks and those deep dark circles under our eyes. Confidence.
While the fears of becoming a good parent are often easily conquered once we realize our children are growing and thriving, getting over the body guilt is tough. Sometimes exercise and eating well don’t bring us back to who we once were. And there is nothing wrong with that. Our bodies have stretched to hold another human being. We provided life, warmth, and shelter for our tiny babies. Our breast have produced the very nutrients from which our babies thrived. And hey guess what, if they didn’t and we used a bottle, THAT’S OKAY!
Early days where we subsisted on granola bars and whatever we could grab while we sat down to nurse or feed. Days with sick children where takeout had to suffice when we could barely lift our head an inch because we had done nothing but care for another being as we worried over thermometers and cold cloths. All these events intermingled with life where we don’t always get to do what’s best for us, but we always try to do what’s best for our children.
By the toddler years we were back into whatever workout we could squeeze in. Even if your toddlers try to push you over during yoga or they step all over your feet as they dance along to zumba, it’s progress. Daily walks that go from just getting outside to enjoying the fresh air and the flowers that line the neighborhood. Somewhere the transition happens and we realize that to live for our children, we also have to live for ourselves.
If we want our children to have confidence, we need to practice confidence in ourselves. Standing in front of a mirror and proclaiming that you feel ‘fat’ has an impact on them whether you believe it or not. Accepting that you are not perfect, but that you love yourself anyway, that’s the turning point. You don’t have to be a size 4 to be beautiful…or happy.
I’ve always found it amazing how much prettier the world seems when you let go of your hang-ups and embrace what you love about yourself. If you start out the day with a pile of clothes on the floor that you hated, it spirals. If you start out the day with genuine love for yourself when you look into the mirror, that also spirals. It spirals into morning giggles with your children, a smile or kind word to a stranger that sparks a conversation and maybe a friendship. A happy day. And those happy days can slowly work to build a happy life.
So maybe you’ll never run a marathon, but enjoying a workout that makes you happy and makes you feel good, that’s important. Choosing foods that give you energy and knowing that it’s okay to have ice cream after dinner because you’re allowed some less healthy choices isn’t a bad thing. It’s smart.
Our children learn by watching us. Let them see you be happy. Let them see you admit that you aren’t perfect, but that you don’t have to be. Perfection isn’t something we have to strive for. We can do good and strive towards happiness. I can assure you that your children do not care what size your clothes are. They care about seeing you smile and smiling with them. They care about playing and being together. They want to know that you won’t be disappointed when they try their hardest and fail. That you’ll be there to build them up instead of cut them down.
So numbers on a scale or on a tag? Really, what do they measure? Not much. The true measure of confidence and happiness? How you feel. If we feel good, we do good. If there is something that makes you feel bad, change it. Start small and work your way up. But don’t doubt yourself in the process. We are our own biggest critics, but we can also be our biggest supporters. Start with believing in yourself and your confidence will spread.