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Almost 12 years ago, I traded in my halter tops and high heels for yoga pants and nursing bras.  I gained over 70 lbs during my first pregnancy because I thought you were supposed to eat every single thing your body craved, even if that was Coca-Cola and ice cream. I figured that once the baby popped out, the weight would just fall right off.  Obviously I thought I was having a 70lb baby.  When I became a Mom, I traded my hot bod for this new “mom bod” and the more I tried to diet and exercise, the more I would fail.  So… I gave up.  Taking care of myself became last on my to-do list.

Like most Moms, my days are hectic.  I work from home, run around picking up and dropping off my kids, clean, cook, go grocery shopping, do laundry…   Most days, I wake up early and go to bed late. I try to pack as much as I can into each day and without fail, something always comes up to derail my plans.  I make lists that are almost never completed. I set a million alarms on my phone to remember to do things and then hit the stop because I can’t hear the person on the other end of the phone with the alarm going off in my ear.  I wind up missing whatever it is I was supposed to remember to do because by the time I get off of the phone and get juice for one of the kids and sign a paper for another, I’ve forgotten about that alarm completely.  A Mom’s day is really non-stop.  I know mine is. I see so many Moms who are always looking magazine cover ready, taking pictures of their three course home cooked meals, beautifully decorated homes and multiple DIY projects and wonder how in the world they have time for all of that.  Let’s be honest, I’m lucky if I have the time to shave my legs.

I didn’t realize it, but once I became a Mom, I became a totally different version of myself.  I went from getting my hair dyed and cut every month to this awful, self-cut, 15 shade hair which was courtesy of supermarket boxes of bleach and dye and my inability to apply it evenly. My gray hairs started coming in faster than I could control and my go-to hair style quickly became the “mom bun”.  I went from doing my makeup every morning to walking out of the house without any on and never batting an unmascara-ed eyelash at how I looked or how others perceived me.  My go-to clothes became tees and yoga pants, because they were easy, baggy, comfy and honestly, the only thing that fit me.  I refused to buy myself new clothes because obviously my next diet idea was going to help me to get back down to a size 4 and all of those big clothes would have been a waste of money.  I went from caring about the type of designer bag I was carrying, to worrying more about the bags under my eyes, yet still not bothering to do anything about them.  I went from maintaining my weight to waiting for the next diet craze.

When I became a Mom, everything became about my kids.  I needed them to have all of the things that I didn’t have growing up so I bought them as much as I could afford (and sometimes even more than that).  I made sure they could do the activities they loved, even if that meant I had to work more and sleep much less.  I spent all of my extra time trying to provide things for them that they probably could have lived without.  And with that, I neglected to take care of myself, which should have been at the top of the list.  I gained even more weight and become incredibly unhealthy.  If I’m not here, how can I take care of them?  I became so focused on them, I forgot about me.

While my girls are constantly taking selfies, I want nothing to do with pictures, unless I am behind the camera. I find flaws in any picture that is taken of me, whether it’s my hair, my makeup, my smile or my body.  It has gotten to a point where I literally refused to allow anyone to take a picture of me and if by some miracle they could convince me to do so, I would go through them and analyze it and come up with at least 10 reasons why no one could ever see them. If it didn’t have a snapchat filter that made me magically beautiful with big eyes, a thinner face and smooth skin, it wasn’t getting posted anywhere.  It wasn’t until a year or so ago when we were going through family pictures that I realized that I’m not in any of them.  I had basically erased myself from our family albums.

Raising three girls means I’m a role model for three future women. What I do and how I act matters because they are going to think this is the norm.  While I’ve always been so careful in teaching them to love others, to be kind, to have strong values, I’ve also been neglecting to teach them something far more important.  I forgot to teach them that they need to take care of themselves, always.  I forgot to show them that you should love yourself and make sure you always feel and look your best.  I teach them about confidence while I portray my lack of it.  I teach them about style and fashion while I walk around in the same clothing I’ve owned for the last ten years.  I teach them about eating healthy while I sit on the couch at night and eat ice cream and cookies.  All this time, I’ve been teaching them what a hypocrite I am and I didn’t even realize it.

Today the hypocrisy stops.  I need to change the way I eat and start exercising, even if I have to wake up 15 minutes earlier each day to fit it in.  I am going to put on makeup before I leave the house, even if I’m just driving to the bus stop down the street.  I am going to take time out, once a month, to pamper myself with a haircut and maybe even a mani and pedi.  I am going to change the way I dress and buy myself clothing that is not only comfortable, but stylish.  I am going to be in more family photos, without the filters.   I am going to be the woman that I want them to grow up to be…  Strong, confident, fearless and someone that others look up to.  I am going to be proud of who I am, not just as a Mom, but as a person.

How has being a Mom changed you?

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Featured image: Mom Life Tee: River Babe Threads

Heather is the Mom of three and a marketing professional. She enjoys graphic design, writing, photography and making new memories with her family.