Personal-Improvement: Working on My Self-Image Post Pregnancy
Having a baby can really suck the life out of you. In the postpartum stage you’re sleep deprived, always on the clock, uncomfortable, and hormonal… and that’s if you’re fortunate enough NOT to suffer from postpartum depression. I fell into the fortunate category, thank God, but I can definitely understand how postpartum depression can overwhelm so many mothers. Don’t get me wrong, my son is the best thing that has ever happened to me but since he was born, I certainly haven’t felt like myself. While I realize these things take time, I clearly remember something my mother said to me before she died.
We were talking about having kids and she said, “One thing to keep in mind is that when you become a mother, you really lose your self identity.”
I had no real reply. I was like, “What? No. I am your identity. Life outside of being my mom? Surely being my mother is all the fulfillment you need in life!” LOL. No… I didn’t say that, but you know what I mean. It had never occurred to me that my mom even WANTED a life outside of being a mom. Haha. It turns out she was right. You really DO lose your self-identity BUT it doesn’t have to be that way. You have to make yourself a priority.
My mother was the classic martyr who never made time for herself and then wanted us all to feel bad about her martyrdom. This attitude is frustrating for the entire family. In the early days of breastfeeding, I certainly felt the same way. I was. ALWAYS. CLOCKED. IN. I realize now that I have to make time for myself and I have to make myself a priority to avoid falling victim to this martyr attitude that plagues so many mothers.
Now that the baby is a little older and his needs have decreased a bit, I have started making myself a priority. After reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, I realized I could benefit from my own version of a happiness project. It wasn’t that I was unhappy, quite the opposite. It was just that I wanted to be a better version of myself. I realized that I didn’t have many hobbies or interests outside of trying to maintain order in my home-life and work-life. What a drag. I sat down and really took some time to explore my inner-self. What do I like? What do I consider fun? How can I add more of these things into my life? How can I start to feel more like my pre-pregnancy self?
So, after a lot of reflecting, I came up with the following areas where I could use some self-improvement:
I realized my personality had kind of started to… well, shrivel up and die. UGH. It seemed like ALL I could talk about was the baby. I’ve actually started making it a point NOT to talk about him, unless someone asks. Because, I’m sorry… but I finally realized, unless it’s his grandma, NO ONE is interested in hearing about your child every time you speak. Speaking of speaking, I’ve also started trying to do less of that. No, really. LOL. I know you don’t believe me but I am trying to listen more and speak less. I instead use this blog to get out all the petty/silly day-to-day things that again, my co-workers actually don’t care to hear about my new lipstick (accept you MO, bless you! You always wana talk makeup!) I feel like I am actually able to communicate more effectively by saying less. By doing that, I am making sure that what I DO say really counts. Also, the less I speak, the less opportunity to embarrass myself. HA.
The other part of my personality that I needed to work on was my attitude. I can be SO reactive. It’s easy to fall victim to the negative. I decided not to do that anymore. Instead, I have been trying, really trying, to find something positive in everything. UGH. This isn’t my strong point but I’m working on it.
I realized that my inner-self was kind of boring. I tried thinking about my interested and I realized, I had NONE. I just woke up, cared for the kid, worked, cleaned house, paid bills and waited to die. Well, that’s a little dramatic but you get the point. There was NOTHING that I did just for the fun of it. Gretchen Rubin suggested doing things your ten-year-old self enjoyed doing and I have to admit, she’s kind of right. I used to enjoy building silly websites, coloring, anything artsy, music, writing, and reading stories. This was an area where I made a LOT of quick progress. It turns out having fun is, well, FUN!
The first thing I did was that I started reading more fiction and listening to more music. This provided a quick happiness boost and I realized how much I love these things. Next, I bought a bunch of adult coloring books and bright colored pencils and that, too, provided me with hours of entertainment. The biggest leap of faith that I took was in purchasing this domain. I have to say that these small tweaks in my weekly routine have made me SO much happier. Instead of feeling like I existed merely to provide meals for my family and pay bills, I now had something to get excited about- something just for me! The next leap I’m going to take is to buy a digital SLR camera and get to work on my book. I feel amazing with the progress I’ve made since starting this journey in May.
This one is pretty superficial but I am a believer that if you feel like you look good on the outside, the inside will begin to match that-fake it til you make it, if you want. I realized that postpartum me was living in leggings and over sized tunics to hide the fact that I hadn’t made much effort on the weight-loss front. So, I started making weight-loss a priority. I changed up my diet and now I’m down 35 pounds from my pregnancy high. Next, I told myself I had to give up the leggings and over-sized tunics. I have started wearing jeans- like, real jeans without elastic waistbands. LOL. I am trying to get into wearing more fitted tops but I’m still pretty self-conscious about my baby-belly.
These small changes were met with a confidence boost. So, I started actually doing my makeup again. I also started wearing heels and accessorizing my outfits more. Just taking an extra fifteen minutes every day to fix myself up has REALLY helped improve my confidence. I am thinking that next I am going to get my hair colored (something I haven’t done since high school) and maybe buy some white strips for my teeth. Again, I know this is all pretty superficial but I just was so unhappy with what I was seeing in the mirror everyday. I had really let myself go. I wanted to reflect outwardly, someone who is put together. Over-sized t-shirt, no-makeup, mom-bun does not say, “I’m a finance professional and I’ve got my life together!”
Since starting my own Happiness Project in May, I feel SO MUCH more confident. In just three months I feel a dramatic boost in positivity and energy. I get excited about waking up every day. Even if they are just silly, little things the way I feel has been so dramatically improved that I can’t help but feeling that each little thing is, in its own way, very important. I do not regret having taken the time to make myself a priority. Though I realize no one can it all, it is at least worth trying to be the best possible version of yourself for your family. I promise you, if you make yourself a priority, your family will NOTICE the difference in you. I feel like you honestly cannot afford NOT to spend a little time on yourself. So many mothers fall victim to martyrdom and don’t realize that their entire family suffers as a result. Don’t do that to your family! You are worth it! They deserve to have a happy mom and most importantly- YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY. Go make that happy life for yourself.
This has been your daily pep-talk. You are worth your own time. If you enjoyed this post please subscribe or share it on your social media. What do you do to make time for yourself? Please let me know by commenting below! I would love some fresh ideas.
Thanks for reading! I hope you have a wonderful day!