I was talking to a friend the other day about some mom life stuff. Both of us are in the process of moving so that our kids will be zoned for a better school system. The conversation drifted to us chatting about the pressures we feel to move our kids, financially and emotionally. We are both strong, intelligent women who are passionate about what we do. We work very hard to provide for our kids, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough.
I can’t help but compare myself to every other mom I see who seems to have it all together. I’m sure the feeling is mutual, but 95% of the time I’m a hot mess. And 95% of the time I’m also wondering how the mom next to me does it all and still looks like a normal, sane human person.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation and how it relates to the pre-and postnatal period. There’s so much pressure. The pressure to maintain a healthy active pregnancy when all you want to do is eat carbs and take naps. The pressure to have an all-natural, beautiful vaginal delivery when your body has other plans. Pressures to breastfeed exclusively and to see the beauty in every moment of that first year. And, my personal vendetta, the pressure to “bounce back” after having the baby.
I see it everywhere… “Get your pre-baby body back in 6 weeks!”, like you lost something in the process of making a person. For a lot of women, that is what it feels like- and I’m not exempt to that feeling. You went through this beautiful process of growing life and now you’re left with a body that feels foreign. Maybe it is bigger in certain, or all, places and it has been through a lot- from birthing a tiny person to making milk for that tiny person, it has run a marathon.
Meanwhile, over on social media there are pictures of women walking out of the hospital in their pre-pregnancy jeans and videos of women working out at home with their tiny babies while wearing a sports bra and donning a six-pack. It can make even the most confident women feel like they’ve done something wrong. “Somehow another woman is figuring out momming, looking great while doing so, and I’m wearing the same yoga pants for the fourth time this week because nothing else fits.” It can make you feel abnormal when what you’re going through is completely normal. This is “the bounce-back culture” and it sucks.
I can honestly say my body has changed a lot, some of those changes I am not too thrilled about, but I don’t feel like I “lost” something. Mostly I feel strong, I feel confident, and I feel lucky to have this new body, this body that did so much work for my kids and myself. That’s what I consider bouncing back.
So to the mom who has been wearing the same yoga pants all week, who feels like her body is not her own, who sees other moms and wishes she could be as patient or fit or productive, etc. Finally, who feels intense pressure daily to do and be all that she can, I see you. You are strong, you are beautiful, and you are an amazing mother.