If you’re active on #MomInstagram like I am, you’ve seen them on your Explore page – the #HotMoms. The ones that take a before picture, late in pregnancy, all belly, then take an after picture of them holding their brand new baby, back to a size 2. They’re everywhere, it seems – the fitness models and Instagram beauty queens that look more flawless at one month postpartum than I did before my twins were even conceived. Their baby is tiny and their makeup is impeccable. And while I’ve long figured out that comparing oneself to people on Instagram is unbelievably toxic, I’m still wondering every day when I’ll start feeling attractive again. Scratch that – I’m still wondering when I’ll start feeling like myself again. I read an article once that says on average, it takes 18 months for a new mom to feel “like a woman again.” I’m 7 months in and over it already.
Let me backtrack. Before I got pregnant with the twins, I was in amazing shape. I was a total gym rat and was nutrition-obsessed. I was studying to be a personal trainer. I was a minor league (semi-pro, but I always thought minor league sounded better) cheerleader in crop tops and hot pants. I even had a separate Instagram account just to post videos of my meals and workouts. Fitness was My Thing. And I always thought when I got pregnant, I’d have a “fit pregnancy.” I didn’t know what being pregnant with twins would feel like for me. I didn’t know I’d be exhausted, sick, and want nothing more than to eat junk food, binge watch RuPaul’s Drag Race and sleep. So my entire pregnancy, I think I worked out a total of three times. I gained 40 pounds – not bad for twins, but enough to make me feel like I was living in someone else’s body. The twins were born, and suddenly everything changed. I was someone else. I was mom. I AM mom. And my life revolves around two tiny humans who believe me to be the supreme being of the universe. And as much as I love my role as mom, I can’t help but feel like I’m not Kayla anymore. I’m not the confident fitness junkie former cheerleader. I am mom. Mom does not feel like using her free time to meal prep and mom does not get to spend hours in the gym anymore. All the things I used to do that felt like undeniable parts of me disappeared when I gave birth, and I must admit, I’m still feeling a little lost in the transition.
It goes without saying that going from no children to two children was big. All the things I took for granted – taking a long shower, washing and detangling my hair, putting on a full face of makeup, having a spontaneous lunch or nail shop date with friends – they’re things I don’t get to do much anymore. When I leave the house, I don’t feel glamorous, or like a head turner – I feel like a mom. My uniform is maternity jeans, a comfy shirt that doesn’t hug my post-baby pooch too tight, flat sandals or running shoes, an afro puff, glasses, and no makeup. And while there’s nothing wrong with adopting the “mom uniform” and there’s a whole culture based around the “mom lifestyle” – all I can think is, “I’ve lost my mojo!” I want to feel, well, jazzy again. I want to feel fancy and pretty and impressive, but all I feel like is…mom. I want to feel like when I go out, people see me, and not just a giant double stroller and a diaper bag.
So I’ve realized I may need to make a conscious effort to feel like me again. Maybe it’s not realistic to try to recreate my 2015 self, when I had abs and waist-long braids and not a care in the world, but I’m starting to realize that I won’t feel like more than a mom until I start treating myself like more than a mom. And that means finding time for me – making time for a long shower and a deep conditioning. Starting the “getting ready” process a little earlier so I can feel like I look half as presentable as my children do. Leaving the junk food behind with my pregnancy and finding the time to stay active, stroller and all. But most of all – stop comparing myself to the #HotMoms and, more than that, stop comparing 2017 me to the 2015 me. 2015 me wasn’t mom. She may have had a flat stomach, meticulously planned out outfits, and the perfect song lyric for her Instagram caption, but she didn’t have two chunky faces shooting her toothless grins with hearts in their eyes every day.
So moms, tell me I’m not alone – when your kids were small, did you feel like another person? Did you feel a disconnect between pre-baby and post-baby you? When did you start to feel like you again?