Like many women, my body image and self-esteem took a real hit after having children. But if I’m being totally truthful, I’ve never been comfortable with the reflection I saw in the mirror.
Since I was a young girl, I’ve had real disdain for my shape and the features that make me who I am, letting negative thoughts run wild in my head. I judged my body with goggles that only showed “never good enough.”
We’re told time and again that we need be aware of our inner dialogue and self-esteem, so that we can model positive behavior for our children. Before having kids, I worried a lot about how I was supposed to be a role model, when I had struggled for so long with positive self-image and self-esteem.
It didn’t matter how many times I heard otherwise, how many times my husband told me I was beautiful – I could never come to love my appearance and I honestly worried how it would affect our children. I tried for over twenty years to change the way I saw myself and always let the negatives outweigh the positives inside my head.
Was it possible to get over it or even fake it enough so I could be a positive role model of self-esteem and body image?
Then, 5 years ago, I gave birth to my third child and my whole perspective changed.
“She looks like me!” I shouted to my husband, while lying in the hospital bed, exhausted after bringing my third child into the world. She was different from my older two children; with her light-blonde hair and bright, blue-green eyes, she was the first of my children to share any resemblance to me. She was perfect.
Everything about her was magical and as she grew older, her qualities that mirrored my own grew as well. We both hear so often how much she’s like my own “mini-me.”
She has my legs, legs that I saw on myself as too big. But on her all I see are the strong legs that make her fearless as she climbs to the top of the tall tree at the playground. She has my cheeks, the same ones that I judged for so long on my own face for the lack of cheekbones. They look perfect on her youthful, cute face. She prances around the house with no insecurity, showing off her strong body as I watch her in awe.
If I can love her and find no imperfections in her perfectness, how can I be so cruel to my own body?
As parents, we’re told that we need to provide our children with the tools to be happy people, but it turns out sometimes that can work the other way around. My daughter has given me a new perspective – one that I could never find on my own. She provided me with the tools I needed to overcome a lifelong battle with negative self-esteem, simply by showing me a mirror image of positivity and light.
My 5-year-old daughter was the one who finally taught me to love my body – a surprise twist to parenting I wasn’t expecting.