It's hard to love yourself every day of the week. I know.
It's hard to accept that you're good enough, or present enough, or that you're lovely even if your jeans don't fit anymore. It's a tall order to consider that you're radiant no matter what your hair looks like or whether your sweater has spit-up on it and holes forming at the sleeves.
Growing up, I spent so long ripping pieces of myself apart. I think - I fear, I lament - that I only did this because I'm a girl being raised in the world, amidst warped ideas of beauty and skewed body image, in spite of the solid teaching I was given at home. I invested too much time thinking that my skin was too pale; that my arms were too hairy; that my thighs made me look like a hippopotamus; that I had man-hands and a boy's voice (I don't).
But tearing oneself down is exhausting. The energy that we can expend dreaming up and focusing on different faults or reasons why we're not good enough is just so tiring. It's gratuitous. It needs to stop.
I'm not saying that loving yourself comes easy, or that strong self-confidence is something inherent. It takes work. But more importantly, it takes a consideration that those people in your life who love you are onto something. It takes an intentional effort to hear what you're being told, and take it to heart.
The confidence that I have, which started from this tiny seed at the bottom of my heart and sprouted up and out and all over my body, exists because I've been taught well to love myself. I took the example of the handful of people who raised me up and held my hand and walked alongside me and reminded me time and again that I am wonderful.
I feel blessed in my life that I've had certain people love me so deeply, with such care and such intention that they instilled within me this tiny seed that grew up, up and away. They taught me, over a long string of years, that my pale skin is beautiful. That who gives two shits about your arm hair? That my thighs are beautiful and perfect just as they are. And that my hands are lovely and my voice is just my voice. My girl voice. And they taught me so much more than this - that I am loved in spite of any and every single flaw that I possess.
When I started this blog some months ago, I did it as a means to reach out to other mothers. Women like me who are experiencing the gamut of emotions, being stretched in every which direction, nearly broken but still hanging on, and who might find themselves feeling isolated or alone.
And a couple months ago, I stripped off all my clothes and stood with my naked baby girl for the 4th Trimester Bodies Project as a way of taking a small step forward - or a big step, really - shouting from the rooftops, in my loudest voice, that we as mothers are strong, we are beautiful, and we are brave. It was the first step in a series of motions I took to liberate myself from my own cage. And to have sloughed off my clothes and those bars feels like the most freeing thing I've ever done.
I want Margot to learn to love herself. And I know that this starts right here. I want to love her all through her days and to lead by example and show her exactly how powerful she is. I want her to have a realistic understanding that beauty is everywhere, that beauty does not revolve around body size or shape, and that she can do whatever she wants to do and be whoever she chooses to be.
I want her to understand that her value is not determined by her beauty, but that regardless of what she looks like, or what changes her body goes through, that she's perfect just as she is.
What do you love about yourself? Are they the same things that I love about you? Do you take selfies on your phone when your kids are napping? I do too.