But I’m a mom…
If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably noticed some changes in my “persona.” I recently posted a picture of myself in my sports bra. You can’t see much cleavage, but you see my whole midriff; which is a huge first for me. I rarely even let pictures of me be taken from the waist down, let alone without a tank top on. I’m a beach body coach, and I work hard on my fitness—mostly for sanity, but I sure do enjoy the side effects of my hard work. I also dyed my hair purple yesterday. Not for any particular reason other than I wanted to. I wanted to do something fun, silly, out there, and not-permanent. Something that could flash a real piece of my personality that I very seldom let show these days. Why? Because I’m a mom.
It’s no secret that there are a lot of ways in which moms feel pressured (women in general really). We all kind of feel like we are supposed to be trying to be super women (and if you don’t, more power to you! Please teach me!). We are supposed to try to do it all, be it all, have it all, and look good doing it. We are supposed to make it look easy. While I’ve (happily) noticed a trend of moms coming together to break the facade of parenting on social media, there are still ways that it feels women are judged (by ourselves, other women, and the world at large), that are less overt. You hear the whispers at preschool pick up…the mom who’s shorts were too short, her dress too form fitting…the mom who tried a new look, who was having too much fun on her night off from her kids, who was trying a new side business. Almost never a blatant “dig,” but judgements passed and eyebrows raised, for certain. This is no “one woman’s” fault. This exists everywhere, among many people. We think a lot changes after high school; it really doesn’t; the vocabulary evolves, but the judgements remain the same. Maybe its society, maybe it’s just human nature.
You can feel confident in your body, you just shouldn’t show it. You can feel beautiful, but you can’t “know” it. You have to justify your decisions on almost everything it seems, from where you send your kids to school, how you do your make up or hair, what you spend your money on, down to having a glass of wine. How many of you have felt a need to say “Oh man it’s been a really rough week, that’s why I’m having this glass of wine!” Why do we need to do that? Why do we need to JUSTIFY a glass of wine? A cheat meal? A purse purchase? Why can’t we just be excited for ourselves (and each other!) for the rare moments we can even snag for ourselves? You know we’re all guilty, mom friends, even if your judgey thought feels innocuous, “Oh I couldn’t spend that kind of money on a purse.” Why? “Because I’m a mom, I spend that money on my kids.” Bullshit. If you’re honest with yourself, you just spend that money on yourself in a different way. A nicer car. A night away. A personal trainer. And know what? YOU SHOULD. We should all do for ourselves sometimes, without worrying what others think about it.
This isn’t a new concept for me; I’ve always worried too much what people think of me. I never wanted to be the girl/woman/bride/wife/mom being talked about. It got to the point that I whittled myself to a nothing of a person over the years. I tried to do all the “right” things. Smile and nod. Be friendly, but not share too much. Kept myself covered up, kept my “look” bland. Truthfully, though, it was a lonely existence. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously had a lot going on—it’s not like I had a ton (or any) extra time for friends, but I also felt like not many people really knew me, because I was too scared to be myself. And if I’m honest, myself is sometimes loud, colorful, if even a bit weird.
Then I remembered a conversation Kenny and I had years ago, when we were first parents. While he was more confident as an adult, he had struggled with confidence and ability to speak up in his younger years. He told me one thing he really wanted to instill in our kids was a sense of confidence (to which I readily agreed, having my own struggles). Thinking of that conversation, I had to take a hard look at myself in the mirror. All the conjecture of what other people are thinking of me, all the energy spent worrying what message people were taking away from my social media posts; do I seem too happy? Too sad? Too confident? Will they think I’m doing this for some other reason? Will they think I’m a bad mom? What I was wearing (or not wearing), if I looked or sounded inappropriate?
Its not just exhausting, it’s counterproductive. Friends, I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t “give up my fucks” for this stuff any longer. I can’t worry that people will find it annoying that I’m posting about fitness or beach body, because its something I love, and something I believe in. I can’t worry they’ll think I’m weird because I dyed my hair purple (because whatever, I’m a weirdo!). I’ve made worse hair choices in my life—and my kids think this is the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I can’t worry people will inevitably judge me, because we all know the truth is many will anyway, whether I care, or not.
It’s public knowledge that I’ve been trying to figure myself out a while now. I’ve yo-yo’d a lot. I’ve vacillated between giving myself free range to be who I am, to restricting myself because I had some pigeon holed notion of who I should be as my kids’ only parent. I have an incredible tribe, comprised of old friends who knew me before motherhood, before tragedy, before I subscribed to some mid 20th century idea of what a mom is; of newer friends, who only know me as a single parent. Who see me on my best days and my worst days of being totally on my own, who encourage me, literally every single day, to just be whoever the hell it is that I am, and they’ve got my back all the way. They all hear my fears and help give me strength over them, and they’ve finally taught me what true friendship is; and to remember: that those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
I was scared to go through with dying my hair purple yesterday. I was afraid of looking silly. Like I was trying too hard to be younger than I am. When I got home, and heard my kids “Ooing” and “Ahhing” over my awesome purple hair, it finally dawned on me that being myself, and being a mom, are not mutually exclusive identities. I can be a mom who wears something that shows a little skin. I can be a mom who loves fitness and nutrition, and feeling and looking strong. I can be a mom who is silly, who is serious, who is responsible for their lives, and yet can let loose sometimes. I can be a mom who has an extra beer (or three) when they’re not with me, who gets frustrated and needs a break sometimes, who has days she feels confident and beautiful; and damn skippy, I can even be a mom with purple hair.