We all have a past, but do we make that about who we are as a mother? No, we pick ourselves up and the mother intuition runs through our veins. Meet mama Stephanie today, she learned to get healthy and she chooses this path to be a better mother to her 2 beautiful girls.
Read her journey in her words.
As my fingertips eagerly tap on my sticky keyboard (gotta love toddlers and they’re curious little hands), I can’t help but repeatedly glance at the soy latte sitting beside me. Sure, as a busy Mama of two active toddlers, I’m often in a state of caffeine craving and consumption. However, the true reason why my eyes are fixated on that mug is something that you would not consider at first glance. In fact, I couldn’t be prouder of myself for enjoying this delicious drink while my girls nap peacefully in their beds. I deserve this!
But here’s the thing – If we were having this conversation eight years ago, I would be pushing that mug away as I tried my best to pretend that I wasn’t in the mood for coffee. But in actuality, I would have been secretly calculating the calories in said mug as my body filled with dread. I would wonder what would happen if I just gave in, just that one time. But just like every other time, I wouldn’t have because that powerful inner demon called Anorexia Nervosa would win that battle by a landslide.
For five wasteful years, I obsessively examined and critiqued my 87 pounds of skin and bones in the mirror, calorie counted to the point of delirium and exercised purely to burn said minuscule calories.
I suffered near blackouts, dizzy spells, constant stomach pain, and was diagnosed with Osteopenia and heart palpitations by the age of 20, amongst other conditions that only senior citizens typically face. I was a walking time bomb and not even my therapist, dietician, family or friends could talk me out of this mental disorder that corrupted every single one of my brain cells.
But something suddenly happened when I became pregnant with my first baby girl. I felt this ferocious instinct, an overwhelming willpower, to fight this illness face to face. I so badly wanted to be strong and healthy from the inside out for her. I wanted to be her role model, and it pained me to the core to imagine her ever putting herself through this physical and emotional pain. It was then I was absolutely determined to be the best, healthiest and happiest me in order to properly raise the best, healthiest and happiest her!
Today my daughters are two and four and I couldn’t feel more blessed that I leaped to the other side of such a brutal illness. After all, I was told by multiple doctors that I would never be able to carry children had I not sought treatment. And you know what? It took me 30 years to really get here but I think I finally have this whole healthy living thing down. I eat when I’m hungry (and even when I’m not), I exercise when I want to and I have successfully rid myself of self-inflicted guilt and toxic deprecation. I exercise to be strong from the inside out, to elevate my mood, and to gain a moment for clarity, for deep breaths.
As a result of leading by example, my daughters have developed a healthy love for exercise, an abundance of self-confidence and a positive relationship with food. It is my greatest intention and steadfast responsibility to ensure that this never changes.
It is so important for our children to understand that exercise is important to help us feel good and live long lives, not to conform to media pressures or self-imposed standards. It is equally important for them to view food just the same – as a source of energy, enjoyment and even celebration!
As much as I spend my days doing everything in my power to keep my kids alive and well (because that truly is the mark of a successful day), they unknowingly saved me. Their sweet, innocent spirits continue to inspire and motivate me to be the best woman I can possibly be, not only for them but for myself too. After all, we only have one body, one spirit and one life to live to the fullest so I encourage you to take really good care of you. Nurture yourself, be patient and take deep, cleansing breaths.
Let go of the negativity that floods your mind and trust in yourself that you are enough, that you are perfect just as you are. Choose to live from that perspective and your children will absolutely follow suit. They’re just cute, little sponges that way. And that, my friends, is My Mother Effin Truth. XO
What tools did you use to get yourself healthy?
When I was in the trenches with this vicious illness, my parents found me a fantastic therapist as well as a wonderful dietician. I worked with both of them for several months in order to find clarity, balance, peace of mind and restored health. Both women were invaluable in this process and I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have leaped to the other side so gracefully without them. To this day, I still recall some of our conversations in order to pull me through tough times. After all, tough times are inevitable so we must arm ourselves with the proper support and guidance from our valued village.
As a mother what do you want to teach them about their bodies? And when will you start?
As a mother to two girls, it is imperative that I get this one right. Never would I want them to endure the physical and emotional pain that I did. Having a healthy relationship with food is a must for my daughters, so when my first born turned 3, I began explaining some of the fundamentals to her. I would say stuff like, “Your chicken has protein which gives you big muscles!” and “Ooh, yummy broccoli! They look like trees and they make you grow tall and strong.” Brooklyn, and now my littlest one Raegan, understand that healthy food gives them energy but they still do enjoy the nightly treat after dinner (such as fruit snacks and popcorn) because balance is key! It was also my mission to help them find the fun in fitness, so when Mommy works out around them, I get them involved with some energizing jumping jacks, ball toss and other kid friendly exercises to get them moving. After all, exercise is supposed to make us feel great and live long and healthy lives. If they develop the right perspective on food and fitness from an early age, I sense that they will grow to be well-rounded women.
It is my greatest wish that my children grow up to know that they can do anything they set their minds and their hearts to. I want them to have the inner strength, courage and self-confidence to go after their dreams and stand with their heads held high and with a smile on their faces. As corny as this may all sound, I know that my mission as a mother will be accomplished when I witness my girls being brave, bold and fearless in their lives.
What do you do for yourself?
As much as I love to stay busy and on the go, I have made it an absolute priority to have downtime. When the girls are napping, I now allow myself to watch The Real Housewives completely guilt free. The laundry will always be there and I’ll get to my to-do lists eventually, but it is absolutely crucial to take the time as a mother – heck as a person – to slow down, take a breath and indulge. We need those moments and we deserve them. However, when my creative juices are flowing and I need somewhere to put them, I turn to my blog, RaisingbyExample.com. As someone who grew up doing acting and writing, I NEED a creative release from time to time. When I’m not watching my reality shows, that is. ☺
What are you working on to be a better mother?
I recently struggled with just being in the moment with my kids. As I touched on in #4, I so easily became preoccupied with my endless laundry list of tasks, but this sadly took my mind away from what truly is the most important thing in the world: my children. To be a better mother is to be less hard on myself, to remind myself that I am enough even if my house isn’t spick and span and I didn’t get a blog post up that day. Oh well, life goes on and as it does, these little girls are growing older. I just can’t miss out on these moments. I refuse to.
Now that you have told the Mother Effin Truth, who do you want to nominate to tell their story as a mother? And why?
I would love to nominate my sister, Lisa Jacobs. For the last decade, she has been courageously battling Ulcerative Colitis like the true superhero she is. As a loving and devoted Mother to my 3 year old nephew (and another one on the way), I am constantly in awe of her grace, bravery and positive attitude despite the struggle she faces each and every day. I believe a lot of other mothers would be inspired by her story of strength perseverance in the face of adversity.