On Monday, I talked about telling your inner critic to take a hike. Today, Jessica shares a love letter she wrote to herself. We love it and hope you do too! —Erin
Dear Hot Mama,
That’s right, you’re a hot mama. I know you don’t feel like it right now, but it’s Valentine’s Day, and it’s time you show yourself a little love and appreciation. Just look at everything you’ve accomplished in the past year! Last February 14, you went through an emergency C-section and welcomed that little precious bundle of joy into your life. You survived an unplanned, major surgery and your husband almost passing out, leaving you to be supported by the anesthesiologist while your tiny little purple baby was tended to by a cluster of blue-scrubbed nurses.
Then you got through that spinal headache a couple days after surgery that was so debilitating you couldn’t even get out of bed to go see your baby in the NICU, yet you still managed to keep pumping every three hours to build your milk supply up for that little guy. And then came the two long weeks of spending your days in the hospital trying for hours on end to help your baby learn to nurse and pumping in between those unsuccessful feedings so he could be fed nothing but your breast milk through that little tube in his nose. Then you navigated eight more weeks of maternity leave with a baby who went from totally chill in the hospital to a screaming terror the second you brought him home. You figured out all the little things that you never imagined could be so hard, like cleaning up the daily poop explosions that no diaper could hold, giving baths (and cleaning tiny foreign “boy parts”), getting the baby to sleep somewhere other than in your arms, how to get him in and out of the stroller and the car seat and the crib and the pack n’ play. And you did all of this while never getting more than 90 minutes of continuous sleep and while dealing with what, in retrospect, was probably a touch of postpartum depression.
Remember when that little guy finally smiled for you? As I recall, you were about 10 minutes away from turning in your mommy card and taking him back to the hospital when he snuck in that little smile. You sobbed and hugged him close and decided maybe it would be worth it to keep him around a while longer, and then spent the next several weeks trying to coax more smiles. Then, of course, you had to go back to your full-time job where people expected you to understand technical things and make decisions and write reports and be “mentally alert.” And you did all those things—so well, in fact, that they gave you a promotion. And you carried that pump bag with you every day, and instead of going to lunch with your husband or friends or co-workers, and instead of going to the gym to work out like you used to, you spend every free minute in the mommy’s room pumping, pumping, pumping.
You survived the trauma of leaving your baby at daycare where you didn’t know a single person. Even though you had no philosophical problems with daycare, you cried in the parking lot the first day you had to leave him there. And then when you came to pick him up, he didn’t want to come to you and instead snuggled into the large bosom of his new teacher and it broke your heart. And then the inevitable sicknesses came—cold after cold, some turning into fevers and ear infections and other scary things that made your baby cry in pain and you feel helpless. And during all of this you managed to keep your marriage strong, and the house somewhat inhabitable, and the bills paid, and the bottles washed, and even some home-cooked meals on the table. (Granted, you do have an amazing partner who has shared all of these duties with you—but you picked him, so you get some credit for that, too!)
And now look where you are! You have survived—no, flourished—as a parent for a whole year! You have a happy, healthy little kid who claps and tries to imitate your singing and crawls around and pulls up on every piece of furniture in the house and cruises around like he owns the place. He somehow knows which buttons around the house turn things on, despite you constantly taking away the remote and blocking him from the stereo and the Wii. He loves the bath, and his stuffed koala, and tearing down towers of blocks, and going outside. And he tries to eat any food you give him—even red beans and rice and mushrooms.
In addition to keeping your kid happy, you have figured out how to start integrating your friends back into your life, made a point to have date nights with the hubby (even if sometimes it’s just a movie on the couch), and have started making time to exercise, making your own health and happiness a priority again. In fact, you just jogged for 28 straight minutes, knocking off a full 2.65 miles (hey, you deserve credit all the way to that hundredths place decimal! Maybe that’s not quite up to the half marathon training runs you were doing before you got pregnant, but considering it was only your third jog in several months (and more importantly, that it was your third jog in about a week and a half—showing that you’re really making a commitment to get your workouts in), I think it’s something to be proud of.
So what if you still have some (okay, all) of the baby weight to lose? So what if your wardrobe is all frumpy stuff bought at Kohl’s on sale in a size you hoped you won’t be in for very long? Getting back into your pre-pregnancy clothes is not the only measure of hotness. You’ve managed the hardest year of your life with a lot of blood, sweat and tears (and snot and poop and spit up), a healthy dose of humility, and even a little grace, and you’re just starting to hit your stride. Your life is working. And it’s starting to be fun again. And you are gaining back the confidence that you can handle being a mom and a professional and a wife and a friend and a sister and daughter and all the other roles you play. That confidence and pride in what you have accomplished—that is what makes you hot. The body will come—don’t worry about that. For now, let yourself believe your husband when he tells you that you are more beautiful now than the day he married you. (You know he means it just by how frequently he feels the need smack your butt when you walk by.)
So this Valentine’s Day, exude that sexy confidence, believe in yourself, and show yourself some love. Because you are one hot mama.