Having a daughter has been a whirlwind. She’s turned my life upside down in the best way possible. I knew to expect a learning curve. After all, there was so much baby stuff to learn. Let alone getting to know this little human that had just entered my life. But it turns out, on this journey together, I’ve not only got to know her. But myself too. And not just who I am as a parent and what feels right to me. But she’s taught me self-love, which has never come easily to me. For her sake. But for my own sake too.
For How to Practise Self-Compassion in Uncertain Times read here.
Lessons About Self-Love
What I’ve learned has certainly been multi-faceted. I’ve learned that self-love can be cognitive and physical. It’s how I think and feel about myself. But also how I look after my body. But I’ve also gained a newfound appreciation for my body. Combined these have created a sea change in the way I think. A move toward self-love which had always been elusive to me. Of course, it’s not perfect. There are times that I feel negative particularly when my mood is low. And naturally that has an impact. But generally, change has come.
I’ve always had a mixed relationship with food and my body. As a teenager I tried various ways to modify and change. I had a fixed idea of what I wanted to look like and assumed if attained, it was the path to happiness. Now I’m older, but not necessarily that much wiser, I’ve learned. I know that weight loss won’t make life easier. But it still weighs on me. Then enters my daughter. I’m acutely aware of the messages I’ve absorbed growing up that so affected my thinking. I don’t want my daughter to tie her self-worth to her body. It’s made me rethink how I speak about myself or foods. There are no longer ‘bad’ foods in my house. There aren’t ‘treats’ either. I’m careful to pause when I feel negative about myself. And instead of berating myself, notice the negativity instead. When she’s older I’m sure there will be discussions. But for now, being careful about the language I use is helping me teach her and myself self-love.
For How to Achieve Self-Empowerment for Our Mental Health read here.
A Moment to Teach
Whilst having a child has reminded me not to be so negative. And to admire the capability, my physical capacity. Both have reminded me to look after myself. Whether it’s the food I eat, the way I move my body or yes, the things I say about it. The other day I was exercising when my daughter came home from childcare. My gut reaction was to turn off the workout video to be present with her. But something gave me pause; and I’m glad it did. My daughter started to workout with me. Or tried to! Whilst I did stomach crunches she lay on the floor and wriggled. When I squatted she bent forward. And yes, whilst working out with a child present brings a whole new level of stress to a stress-busting activity. I was glad for it. She saw me care for my body. I want her to grow up with those messages. Cognitive and physical care is important when it comes to our physical presence. I want her to learn self-love not just through positive self-talk but also through physical care.
Having a child has certainly helped me re-think my body. Not only am I less negative for the sake of my daughter. But I’m also acknowledging, even appreciating, what my body does for me. For perhaps the first time, I see it as more than what the world sees. I remember what it got me through, it literally laboured to bring my beautiful baby into the world. It got me through those first few months or no sleep. I certainly didn’t treat it right during that tumultuous time. But it soldiered on. It carried me (literally). This reminds me of the strength and power it has. Not only in the hard times. But every day. Each ache and pain is a reminder of what I put it through. And that rather than begrudge the discomfort, to see it for what it is. A time to pause and rest. The ache of a job well done or a day of productivity.
How have your children taught you to love yourself? What lessons are there to learn? As always let me know below.