Before I had children, I embraced my free-spirited self with a wild, sometimes reckless abandon. I married straight out of high school so when that relationship failed four years later, I reinvented myself into all the things I thought I should be. At the time, I thought I couldn't get any better. I was both naive and unrealistic to assume my "best" days where then, because I know all the undeniable reasons why I look better after having kids, as opposed to those pre-baby days. Sure, there was less stress before and yeah, I had more free time, but I lacked so many things that have changed me into the strong confident woman I am today — things I wouldn't have found if I hadn't become a mother.
I don't exactly know when it happened exactly — this boost in self worth. Maybe it was in small bursts, or maybe all at once and sometime after the postpartum waned. Back then, before kids, I didn't always see or appreciate my beauty. Insecurity influenced my every decision and I never felt like my genuine self would be enough for anyone else. I could blame part of that on age, part on not knowing all that would lie ahead, and part on it being absolutely impossible for me to know all the ways I'd grow over the coming years. Still, I've not only come full circle but I've owned the circle. I'm the same woman graduating from high school in so many ways and, yet, so extremely different. Having children helped me realize the force I am and the impact I could have on the world around me.
If you aren't sure of your place once you've had children, give it time. Soon enough, you'll see all the things everyone else already has. Here are some of the reasons I'm living my best life post-kids (and still getting more awesome by the nano-second).
I Take Better Care Of Myself
Before I had kids, I ate a meager diet of whateverthehell I felt like — usually fast food — I didn't exercise, and my sleep was minimal. I got by because I was young and didn't have a full plate of life thrown at me just yet, but if I'd continued on the path of late nights out and little time taking care of myself, I would've eventually plummeted to some dire descent. One can only do those things for so long before it's unfulfilling, anyway.
After children, I started running, eating better to teach my kids about health, and making sure sleep was priority. Going out still happens every now and then (I'm still a hot-blooded woman!), but I'd much rather stay in and be with my family. I make better choices, for me, and in turn, I think it shows on the outside, too.
I Laugh More
One of my partner's most redeeming qualities is his ability to make me laugh even at the worst of times. It's kept us connected for 13 years, even when all else felt so totally broken and I didn't know if we'd sink or swim. Laughing is said to be the best medicine, sure, but I also believe it's the best beauty product around. Who cares about laugh lines, right? They're a sign I'm living a joyful life. When life throws all those metaphorical lemons at me, I credit all the laughing to keeping me from falling into another slump.
Before children, I laughed but I also took myself a little too seriously. My Gram lived well into her eighties and she didn't go a single day without a massive amount of laughter. Not only did it show me how incredibly beautiful her soul was, but I truly believe it kept her alive longer than life intended. This is something I've learned and it's ingrained in my being. To laugh it is live. And so, when everything is bleak in the world, I will laugh.
I'm More Confident
Something that comes along with motherhood is a great deal of confidence. I didn't have a lot of this growing up (read: none), so once I got the hang of the mom thing, I felt myself feeling more empowered. Finally, something I was capable of doing! While I still fail and make mistakes, it doesn't matter. Parenthood is one of the hardest jobs in the world so the fact that I'm doing it — really doing it — kicks that confidence gear into overdrive. That's why even on a day when my hair's a mess and I have my son's ketchup on my shirt, I stand tall and proud.
Before children, even at my thinnest, there was a palpable, lingering self-conscious nag buzzing around. I didn't completely understand what it meant to love myself. Having children showed me it doesn't matter what I'm dressed in, how much baby weight I've lost, or how much I've accomplished. I rock, damn it, and so do you. #slay
I Care Less About What Others Think Of Me
Oh, boy. I used to care what everyone thought of me to a dangerous degree. I'd revolve my self-esteem around it, even. Not just in school growing up, but after. With jobs, in my first marriage, going to the store — everything. I hated the thought I could be "less than" in someone else's eyes It's a flaw I didn't think I could rid myself of.
After I had my children, something shifted. Maybe it was the lack of time or energy I had, or maybe I just started to love myself in ways I never did before. Whatever it was, I stopped caring about anyone's opinions of me (except my children) and this makes me feel more confident in and of itself. Letting go of the doubt is such a beautiful, freeing feeling and I'm sure it shows. I want to be the person deserving of the pedestal my children have already propped me onto. If I can do that, I've already won.
I've Accepted And Embraced My Flaws
And finally, the biggest way I've changed since having my children is in the way I treat myself. I used to say the most damaging, hurtful things about who I am as a human being, internally wrecking my self-esteem and ability to see past my flaws. Having kids showed me all the things I never thought I could be. I learned patience through pregnancy, strength through delivery, and resilience through parenting. I'm stronger than I've ever been, inside and out, and it's truly because I'm a mother. For that, I can never really thank my children enough (except through being the example of self love at it's best).
I could argue I wasn't a bad catch before children and I might be right, but it doesn't matter. Society made me think I wasn't good enough and, as a result, I didn't, either. Now I know I'm unstoppable. All of this translates to the way I look on the outside, because I'm taking more pride in who I am as a person and mother on the inside. Raising both a boy and a girl in this world, I hope to inspire them by my attitude and actions towards others and mostly, towards myself.