Before I was a mom, I was a doormat. A dirty, dusty, filled-with-other-people’s-shit doormat. The more I put before myself, the more I got ground down to the bottom, where the scuzzy water from soggy winter boots pools…and festers.
I spent most of my life making other people happy, pushing my happiness further and further aside. When anyone took advantage of me, judged me or took me for granted, I was always ok with it. I never said anything. I didn’t get angry. I always understood.
To me, being a people-pleaser was better than the alternative of having no friends at all. The idea that people might not like who I was terrified me, and besides, I kinda liked making everyone else happy, so it was a win-win.
As soon as my daughter was born, all that garbage became just that, GARBAGE. Here are five ways that motherhood has turned me into the woman I was meant to be.
- I take a lot less shit. Being a mom showed me how tolerant I was to being taken advantage of. Pushing Mommy’s tolerance is every toddler’s M.O. Nothing like making six different breakfasts for a two-year-old to help you figure that one out. How far was I willing to be pushed before I said ENOUGH? Not nearly as far anymore, not with the mucus-munchers around, pushing, and nudging, and poking the mama bear all day long.
- I take care of my body. When my daughter turned six months old, I found myself weighing in at 192 lbs, a bi-product of postpartum depression and ugh, it made me so sad. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin and felt that the me and the mom I wanted to be were just tiny specks in the middle of a huge, empty shell. I had to do something about it. Making a commitment to myself, I got my body to a place where I felt comfortable, where I felt happy and healthy. While I learned that exercise was a necessary part of recovery, it was also one of the best ways to take care of myself. As a result, I felt like a woman again; powerful, strong in body and mind. I felt sexy again, had more energy for my family, and I could physically be the best mom possible.
- I invest in self-care. As a mom who suffered from PPD, my self-care went from average before motherhood, to an empty black hole the minute my daughter was born. In order to recover, I clawed and scraped and dug my way out, and I did it by demanding time for myself. And I do mean demanding. Whether it was getting Daddy to do bedtime so I could go out, (even though I knew he’d deal with a major tantrum that night), or having naps when I needed them because I was so tired I couldn’t remember my own name, taking care of myself saved my life, and probably my family. It showed me that putting myself higher on my priority list did not mean I was selfish, it meant that I was relevant, and that I mattered.
- I know now that friendship is not an obligation. Now that my daughter is school-aged, I’m trying to teach her to choose her friends wisely. And while she’ll have lots of good friends, occasionally there will be some who aren’t that great. There’ll even be kids who don’t like her at all. And that it’s perfectly fine. As I watch her begin her journey into her young social life, I’m reminded of the friends that I have and don’t have anymore. Being a mom has shown me how to pick my own friends, how saying no doesn’t make me a horrible person, and how I want to be treated, not just by my kids, but by adults as well. I don’t tolerate nastiness from my four-year-old, so why would I take it from a grown-up?
- I get angry. I’m getting better at this one, but sometimes throwing a stapler at your co-worker just doesn’t go over well. In all seriousness though, as I teach my kids about their emotions and how it’s ok to have them, I’m really teaching myself right along with them.
How can I expect a four-year-old to handle her anger, when I struggle with mine as a grown up? In the past, my anger would just sit there and stew away until I forgot about it. And that’s not what I want to teach my kids. So, I guess we’re learning together on this one, but I have a slight advantage over them: I can drink wine.
Thanks so much for reading.