Parental struggles y’all. They’re real and they’re rough and I’m drowning in them lately and feel very inadequate and ill-equipped and sometimes very lonely because there are just problems you see differently from the other parent in a 2-parent household if you’re the primary caregiver. There are things that look different to the person who sees the children during all of their upswings and downswings and some days I find myself wondering if I should retitle our 401K in my budgeting app from “retirement” to “kid’s future therapy needs” because I’m convinced daily that I’m hurting more than I’m helping.
I’m also struggling in my journey to self-love to make it over one particular hill. I’m doing great in a lot of areas in terms of loving this body. I find myself looking in the mirror with more love than hate than I’ve ever had at any size. I beat down the instincts to hate pictures of myself that stretch beyond my face and I worry less about where the fat rolls are showing during yoga and more about how to modify stretches to avoid squooshing them. (Because – let’s be honest – there are a lot of moves where I’m flexible enough to do them but my belly fat is in the way!)
So…the hill? Is the, “But my husband is really hot” hill. This has always been something I’ve struggled with, feeling like my husband and I standing together look like the prince and the troll. Even on our wedding day when I was beautiful and thin and tan and young…I worried people thought he deserved someone more beautiful.
I really hoped I’d be able to work past that as I learned to love myself AS IS but y’all? It’s worse than ever…a million times worse. It’s like I can look at and love my body beautifully when I’m alone anywhere. But the second I’m hanging out with my husband I feel gross and ugly because he’s there with his perfectly sculpted body that gets better with age and if I let myself think about it too long I honestly find myself fighting off tears of shame. And the words in my head thinking about my body in those moments are ugly and terrible and inflict the worst kind of hurt on my soul all because my husband is hot.
ISN’T THAT THE SADDEST THING EVER?
So that’s my focus lately, is trying to really shout back at those voices in my head. But man…they are loud and they say terrible things. They are mean and cruel and if anyone ever said the things to my daughter that I say to myself when I’m commenting on my appearance next to my husband’s, I would punch that person in the face.
But I try to remember that underneath all of that ugly talk there is a little girl who just wants to fit some sort of media-driven model of beautiful when in reality – I know from 43 years of life experience – that the most beautiful people shine light from deep within the corporeal frame of their bodies. If I look at the light I shine when I’m not burdened by thoughts of my body, I can see my beauty radiate like the sun. So I close my eyes and I see that insecure little girl and I remind her that…when she is kind and loving and when she smiles and laughs and – most importantly – when she cultivates love around her…she is the most beautiful being on the planet. I tell her the body that holds her light does not matter in the world around her where there is so much pain and darkness. She needs to believe in the true beauty of the light she shines both sitting alone and standing next to her husband at a party. And I need to imagine that little girl every time I start the negative self-talk because it’s a lot harder to say terrible things about yourself if you imagine saying them to the 8-year old you.
Let’s try to be kind to each other today, but most importantly, let’s try to be kind to ourselves. I will hold in my heart today all of the women I love and I will think of all of them when I’m criticizing my parenting or my body…because I think nothing but brilliant things about the women who surround me from my childhood and from my present. They are brilliant mothers and strong women and loving friends and most importantly – they add beautiful light to the world. I need to cultivate the same love for myself as I have for them.
Here’s to loving myself like I love all of you. Both as a mother and as a body that simply holds the soul that is shining light into the darkness.