I know I’m going to tick people off with this blog but I’ve GOT to ask this question. Why do we have to give up ourselves to be considered good mothers? Why is it that mothers who take care of their own needs too are seen as “bad” by the rest of the world?
I just saw one of those annoying memes on Facebook, you know, the ones with cute pictures of puppies and babies and kitties with some witty saying allegedly by said puppy, kitty or baby? This one was a picture of a relatively newborn baby and it said “I know you won’t be able to wear your bikini again Mommy, but I promise you, I’m worth it.”
So let me get this straight. Motherhood instantly causes women to only be able to wear one piece bathing suits but that’s okay because you shouldn’t care anymore because your child is more important than anything else?? Ugh. Please excuse me while I throw up a little in my mouth.
I’m sorry, I find this deplorable. Yes, my children are THE MOST IMPORTANT THING in my life. As well they should be. But just because something is important doesn’t mean that you need to abandon everything in your own life for it. I have other things that make me who I am; writing, running, reading. I don’t want to give those things up just because I have children. Motherhood is all about learning how to balance those things. Abandoning any of those things would make me less of who I am. Of course if forced to make a decision between my children and never working out again, I would chose my children. But that’s not how life works, is it? It’s not black and white and all or nothing.
The “I will never fit in my jeans again, but it’s okay because I gave birth” excuse makes me spitting mad. You want to know why? Because it’s an EXCUSE. People who use this cop out are only doing it so they don’t have to feel bad that they won’t fit in their jeans again. They use their kids as an excuse why they’ve gotten out of shape and can’t get back to their old selves.
I know children change you and all of a sudden the seemingly superficial things don’t matter to mothers as much anymore. And what’s more, I know weight and how we look IS an incredibly superficial concept. But how we look IS important. It gives us self confidence and it is how the world sees us, like it or not. Even though we have much more important things on our plate, we SHOULD still care.
Why? First and foremost, being fit and in shape is important to being a good mother. Not only does being in good health mean you will be around longer for your children, it’s important for interacting with them. A mother who can chase after her toddler, play catch with her preschooler and roller blade with her middle schooler is a better mother than one sitting on the sidelines eating out of a fast food bag. And damn, it gives you energy to keep up with them. Even light exercise like walking the dog can improve your mood and make you feel less sluggish.
Sure, you don’t need to be in bikini shape to do those things, but why the hell not can’t you TRY?? Some mothers weren’t in bikini shape before they had children and that’s FINE. It’s NOT about being a supermodel or trying to fit in a size 6 dress when you always were a 10. It’s NOT about being this imaginary person you never were. It’s about staying true to who you were before you had kids and maybe even going out of your comfort zone to be better for them and for yourself. There is no law that says once you have a child, you are doomed to wear a mumu and cover up to the local pool for the rest of your life. And don’t shake your head and say “it’s okay, I’m a mom now, those rolls that are getting out of control don’t matter”. Screw that! Being a mom doesn’t mean you have to give up being a PERSON! That fun, smart, sexy person your husband, boyfriend, partner, whoever fell in love with. You’re not only sacrificing yourself when you throw in the towel, you’re saying they don’t matter either. For some people, weight loss is a huge struggle and I get that. But don’t give up on yourself and use your kids as the excuse to do it.
As you may have figured out, I didn’t throw in the towel after having kids. I work out several hours a week. And yes, it’s hard to fit it in and many times I don’t want to, but I make time because I know it’s important. I wake up at 5:30 and go to spin class. I run on the weekends. I go to Boot Camp with my husband and my son. It would be easier to hit that snooze alarm or not lace up my running shoes and sit on the couch with a half gallon of ice cream instead. I could say, “hey, I can do this, I’m a Mom remember? I don’t matter anymore”. Sure is easier to do that, right? There’s a million excuses I could use; too tired, too busy, too much housework. I have a friend who has two kids, works full time and still managed to lose half her body weight in the last two years. How are those excuses looking now?
I don’t do it just for myself even though the benefits of exercise and taking care of myself are very rewarding. I do it for them, too. I do it so that my son sees you can accomplish your goals, that age and ailments and disabilities are not an excuse. Not just in health, but in anything you dream of. I do it so that my husband has a wife he can be proud of, one he can introduce to people and not be embarrassed of. I do it so my daughter doesn’t hear the words, “oh God, I’m so fat” come out of my mouth like I heard constantly out of my own mother and grandmother’s mouths and become self conscious about her weight at age 8. I do it so that I can still be 24 years old and feel like I did when my children weren’t the most important thing in my world. I do it to relieve stress and burn off steam. And you know what? That doesn’t make me a bad mom…it just makes me a mom without excuses.
Now if you’ll excuse me, the Victoria’s Secret catalog just came and I’ve been looking for a bikini.