Roughly half of all women feel more self-doubt than self-love. And for a long time, I was one of them. Like many moms, I felt I had finally achieved some sense of self-love just before my partner and I decided to become parents. Then, pregnancy happened and both body and mind underwent some serious changes. My stomach stretched, my skin sagged, and my hair started falling out. During that time, the love I had for myself all but disappeared, and not much changed after giving birth.
Suddenly thrust into motherhood, I quickly took on the role of caregiver. Everything I did, I did for my kids and my personal life and relationships fell to the wayside. Sometimes, I’d even feel a bit guilty for treating myself because I felt I didn’t deserve it, so I put my needs and wants on the backburner.
Eventually, my self-deprecation began to take its toll on my physical and mental health. Some days I couldn’t even get out of bed. I realized then that, if I was to be a good wife and mother, I had to start taking care of myself. Better yet, I had to start loving myself the way I deserved to be loved: fully and unconditionally. Little did I know that this journey to self-acceptance and love would inspire so much change — both within and without.
Self-love inspires a deep sense of contentment and even happiness. That’s because falling in love with yourself requires spending more time alone, and deepening the connection with your true inner being. Eventually, you become your own friend, advisor, and cheerleader. You start to believe in yourself again and trust yourself more.
In doing so, you inspire your partner and kids to do the same. This has proven true in my own family time and time again as positive self-talk leads to a happier, more fulfilling life.
Loving myself has also pushed me to move my body, to get up off the couch, and break a sweat. Sure, I might not love working out, but because I care about my physical and mental health, I’m going to take care of them by staying fit and active. This decision has had ripple effects on my partner and kids, who often join me for a quick movement sesh — and take care of themselves in the process.
Of course, exercise is only half the equation. When you truly love yourself, you also prioritize healthy eating. These days, our family doesn’t eat out much. I enjoy making food at home and experimenting with different recipes and flavor combinations. Sometimes, the kids even lend a hand and I show them how to make salads, wraps, and other nutritious meals. I hope that teaching them at such a young age will inspire a lifetime of healthy habits and a love for cooking, too.
We accept the love we think we deserve, which probably explains why I had such crummy friends before rekindling my sense of self-love. Now, I set the standard to accept only high-quality love, and I create boundaries with friends and family to ensure I receive nothing less. While enforcing and strengthening these boundaries may take time and patience, protecting my emotional and spiritual health is more than worth it.
Somewhere along the way to self-love, you find self-confidence. And damn, does it look good on you! Realizing your potential will put some pep in your step and finding more motivation is bound to boost your productivity. Who’s to say you won’t get that raise, wear that dress well, or take a risk? The more you practice self-love, the more confident you’ll become. You might even inspire confidence in your partner and kids, too, which is a major win in my book.
All this self-love and positive talk might make you think I’m the perfect mom. Well, think again. I still get just as impatient, frustrated, and upset as the next momma. However, loving myself also allows me to forgive myself when I do mess up and lose my temper. Instead of comparing myself to other women or the “ideal” mom, I grant myself some grace and try again tomorrow. That’s all anyone can ever do anyway, right? Be kind to yourself.
Living Your Best Life
In a world where moms are expected to sacrifice their well-being to raise children, developing self-love may be difficult. Friends may accuse you of being selfish. Your family might question your choices. Even you, yourself, will experience moments of doubt. However, falling in love with yourself is possible — and it’s so worth it.
By putting yourself first and investing in your mental and physical well-being, you show your kids just how important self-care is. More importantly, you learn what it means to be a good mom, wife, and person, regardless of what anyone says about you. Don’t have any more effs to give? Congrats, girlfriend! You’re living your best life.