Before I was a mom I think I probably would have been kind of offended by the whole "Mom Strong" thing. Who says moms are stronger than anyone else? Really? I'm strong -- I kick butt at my workouts and I'm disciplined to eat what I should, not what I want. We're all just women -- who cares, right?
I do think that ALL women can be as strong as they want, discipline themselves and eat right. But after becoming a mom myself, I have found that there are ways that moms are just different than other women (in good and bad ways). There are things you learn as a mom that I truly would have never known about myself or life in general without my daughter. I'm not saying that moms are superior to anyone else -- we all have faults, we all have weaknesses, but today I want to share with you how being a mom made me WAY stronger than I ever thought I could be.
This one is kind of a no-brainer -- but it's so true, and I think we forget about it sometimes. My arms and shoulders get a workout. Daily. Whether I feel like it or not. My now 30 pounder is a wiggly ball of energy that still wants LOTS of mama-holding time. It's like a little human sized shake weight. Even when she was a little, sleeping infant I would wear her in our Infantino front carrier and do EVERYTHING. Ever vacuum your house with a 15 lb weight strapped to you? It makes you stronger :) I also carry a lot more STUFF around. And you know, there is only ONE trip from the car to the house -- that means mama carries it all. A weeks worth of groceries, purse, diaper bag, toddler. I got it all. (Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration). Carrying a kiddo and a basket of laundry up two flights of stairs. Don't worry, I got this. You're muscles are definitely put to use -- even if you don't feel like working them on a particular day.
Being a mom has given me WAY more discipline. Pre-mommyhood it was hard to talk myself into doing a workout. There was a small battle inside my head that told me going shopping, painting my nails, going to coffee, etc., was MUCH more appealing. But being responsible for another human being changes everything. Did I want to get up in the middle of the night to a screaming baby? Definitely Not. Was there really a choice? Nope. I just do what needs to be done. If she needed to be fed, changed, held -- anything -- I stopped what I WANTED to do and I did it. It's still that way now, just to a much lesser extreme. I have automatically put my wants on the back-burner for my girl, out of love. But it has taught me that I CAN do things I DON'T want to do. I can run another half mile even when I don't feel like it. I can do ONE more sumo squat even when I want to quit. It just takes an attitude adjustment. Being a mom just forces you to do it :)
Some people have a "Happy Place" they go to in their minds during a workout to push themselves harder and farther. I don't know that I would call my place a "Happy Place" per say, but I have a place I go that helps me keep going. I go there during runs when I'm losing my focus; I go there in the middle of what seems like a MILLION burpees and I'm sure I can't go on, I go there whenever I need a reminder that, "I AM STRONG." What makes me keep going is puting myself back in the delivery room. Yes, the delivery room. Even though it was far from the labor and delivery I had wanted, it made me realize that I can do anything. A-NY-THING. After you've been in labor all day and pushed for 4 HOURS only to have a C-section, why yes that 3.5 mile run seems like a cake walk. Abs on fire from waist whittlers? Um......4 hours of pushing, people. Those ab whittlers have NOTHING on me. My girl gave me something SO wonderful the day she was born -- she gave me SERIOUS perseverance. Sometimes when I'm running and I see that I have 2 miles left and I feel like I'm dying, I mentally put myself in my hospital gown and remember that long day and how it seemed to never end. I remember how I didn't think I could keep going hour after hour, but I did. All of a sudden two miles seems like nothing and I keep going, stronger than before.
I. Love. Sleep. Seriously. I was the lame-o in high school who went to bed early because I loved getting my 8 hours. I didn't know how I would ever function on LESS than 8 hours. Well I do. I adjusted. I do more now with less than before. And what's amazing is that after getting up three times a night for feedings for what seemed like weeks on end. Getting a solid 6-7 hours of sleep and then popping out of bed at 5 AM seems like nothing. I can do that. I've also learned to do MORE with my time. Time is so precious. It's one of the few things you can never get more of in life. Limited time means I've learned to be smarter about my workouts -- get right in there, push myself hard so that 35 minutes COUNTS. I've learned I can do a lot more than I realized with WAY less sleep and WAY less free time.
Being a mom has taught me that little eyes are always watching. ALWAYS. Little ears are always listening. Even when you don't think they are. It has taught me that I am now and forever ALWAYS a role-model. And I want to be a good one. I want my girl to grow up knowing she's strong; knowing she's independent and she can do ANYTHING she thinks she can do. I have realized that I can positively critique myself instead of negatively criticizing my body and decisions. I have learned that positively talking about what I can IMPROVE on is FAR better than speaking negatively about what I did wrong, or the mistake I made. And although I have little control over everything she hears, I can control what she hears from me.
I have also learned that I want my daughter to go through life with the most POSITIVE attitude I can give her. And I feel that showing her right away how to deal with problems and frustrations in a positive attitude is the way to set the stage. It's not easy. Believe me. And I'm not perfect -- I have a melt down once in a while too, you know. But I try to improve, I make sure I'm better than I was and I make certain I'm always going FORWARD. Frustrations come EVERY DAY. Dealing with screaming, writhing toddler in Target that wants you to open a box of cereal RIGHT THAT SECOND is hard -- before I was "mom strong" I probably would have cried right there with her. Now, I have to suck it up, smile apologetically at anyone who sees us and use every parenting skill of obtained in the last two years to calmly diffuse the situation without giving in. To me that's the first step in showing my child that there are positive ways to deal with EVERYTHING -- good and bad. Positivity is the key.
Obviously I'm not perfect -- and being mom to an almost-two-year-old means I have A LONG way to go and A LOT to learn. But I'm so amazed at what motherhood has taught me already. It makes me so thankful. I never realized that by having such an awesome responsibility like raising a child could give me SO many wonderful strengths. We might feel like we do everything for our kids some days and get little in return. But keep in mind how strong they have forced you to become.