I’d like to introduce you to one of the hardest working women I know. She is guest posting on Haute and Humid today with a very special Mother’s Day Post. Kelsey’s writing is phenomenal and I could only aspire to be more like her.
Kelsey Van Kirk is a Lifestyle & Clarity Coach for wives and moms and Founder of The Home Loving Wife community. She is a wife, mama to four lovely princesses and passionate about inspiring and equipping women just like YOU to create and live grace-filled lives full of balance, purpose, happiness and fulfillment! You can connect with her more on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, or in her members-only Facebook community, The Home Loving Wife Sisterhood!
Motherhood is an incredible thing, isn’t it? Not only do we go through an extensive physical transformation as we conceive, grow, carry and give birth to tiny human beings, but we are also transformed mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This transformation, I’m convinced, is necessary in order to grow and mature into the kind of women who can sacrificially love and give of themselves tirelessly in order to nurture their children and families. A woman transformed by motherhood is truly a beautiful thing to behold, but sometimes the journey to get there isn’t quite so pretty.
I, like many women, have struggled with body image my entire life. As far back as I can remember, there was always comparison and dissatisfaction. Countless hours were spent assessing my physical appearance and performance in mirrors as a classically trained ballerina, and later learning my “angles” and how to minimize flaws as an aspiring model. My self worth was intrinsically tied up in what I looked like, my idea of beauty defined by my outward appearance.
I was terrified of being “fat” or “ugly,” thinking that people wouldn’t like me or that I wouldn’t be accepted. Being anything less than perfect wasn’t acceptable. Eventually, I grew to hate my body and all of the flaws I perceived. I tirelessly slaved away at the gym, counted and cut calories, restricted, plucked, waxed, toned, colored and applied makeup, all the while thinking that each step was bringing me closer to being happy with the body I had, and that eventually I would feel beautiful.
When I got pregnant with my first daughter, I’d already come a long way in my battle with poor body image. I had married a man who made me feel whole, and beautiful and loved. But I was still so afraid that pregnancy would completely wreck my body and I would no longer be desirable. I had seen it happen time and time again to countless women, and I didn’t want that to be me! I wanted to be the one to prove the stereotypes wrong. I wanted to be Heidi Klum!
Little did I know how challenging it was going to be to push through the bone-wearying exhaustion and stand up to the unending cravings that went along with pregnancy. In so many ways, I continued to fail myself. I didn’t exercise enough and I ate too many rice krispies treats and bowls of lucky charms, and watched with chagrin as my weekly weigh-ins chimed in to remind me of my total lack of self-control. Sure, I was continually told what a good “excuse” I had and that I shouldn’t forget that I was now eating for two! But we all know that is crappy advice (not to mention logically unsound!)
After giving birth to my daughter, enjoying those first several days of getting to know her and adjusting to our new “normal” I was anxious to retrograde the part of my transformation that I didn’t want to stick around. I remember climbing on the treadmill just 2 weeks after her birth, thinking it would be no time until I was back to where I was before baby. But at that point, what I really failed to do what take notice of and appreciate everything my body had gone through to bring my baby into this world!
I’d like to say that I had an “aha moment” – a moment of clarity, recognizing and acknowledging how beautiful the process of becoming a mom really is. But it’s not always that simple. What is interesting though, is the unexpected twists and turns my journey has taken me down. I never expected to get pregnant again when my first daughter was only 4 months old, and I never expected to be waddling chasing after a toddler who wasn’t even walking yet at more than 40 weeks pregnant!
Perhaps the biggest surprise though has been how, with each child I’ve had, my capacity to love them and myself has increased. It doesn’t make any kind of logical sense, but for me, it doesn’t have to. I can’t tell you how much it thrills me to finally be comfortable (on most days!) in my own skin, embracing this incredible body I’ve been given and celebrating everything it’s endured!
I’m now able to look in a mirror and see the “tiger stripes” as I affectionately call them, along with the added softness and curves, and be at peace with the woman looking back at me. Because I now understand that my worth isn’t found in what I look like, or even what I do – it’s found in who I am. And who I am is constantly changing, ebbing and flowing and evolving as I move through life.
Each of us mamas has a unique story and a unique beauty all our own. There will be days when we are covered in spit up or up to our eyeballs in concealer, trying to hide the dark circles under our eyes, just like there will be days where we feel like we’ve got it all going on! It’s all part of the ongoing transformation – the process of becoming more and more the women we were destined to become. And through that transformation, we must remember to celebrate our beauty, as moms and as women, every step of the way.