Recently over on Instagram I shared that I was trying to lose weight. Then I shared a YouTube video about a shopping haul that had lots of ‘weight loss’ items. Also, as shared over on my Insta, I have recently started an Advanced Diploma in Social Media Marketing. And followed that up with a well-meaning and hopefully helpful video about how to survive when you overstretch yourself.
These two things are fine, one might say. And yes, they are. There’s nothing wrong with weight loss or upskilling to further your career. I mean that, there really isn’t.
So why do I want to say sorry?
It’s because I feel that I betrayed my own values by putting pressure on myself that I wouldn’t want my own daughter, best friend or any women to feel.
I’ve always been a greedy, soft bellied size 12. A stay at home mum who valued the importance of being at home if you choose to.
I let you guys down by feeling like I ‘ought’ to be slimmer to wear a bikini. I let you down by feeling that it was not enough ‘just’ to be a stay at home mum.
There is nothing wrong with being size 8 OR having a career – really, there isn’t – both are marvellous if they happen without having to sacrifice your sanity to achieve them.
But I hate that underlying pressure us women, particularly mums, have to achieve. To get that flat stomach. To have that perfect home. To boast well behaved children. To be perfectly, happily married. To have an all powerful girl squad. To look 10 years younger than we really are.
I’m sorry if you saw my posts and thought, shit, yeah I ought to lose my tummy. I ought to do a course or hurry back to work.
We are all just fine as we are. We don’t have to be killing it in the gym or in the board room to be fucking successful.
You know what makes someone successful? Being happy.
If bossing it in the boardroom genuinely makes you happy, then fight for your right to do it.
If working out until your abs are hard as a rock really gives you a buzz and makes you feel oh-so-brilliant, then that is ACE!
But don’t for God’s sake feel that you should be thinner, earning more, ‘achieving’ something.
If, like me, you chose to stay at home to look after your kids yourself most of the time then please do recognise the importance of that choice. If baking scones and cleaning the house makes you feel contentment like nothing else – then just do it, and don’t feel it’s a waste of time. (Equally if the thought of staying at home gives you shivers then please don’t feel pressured to either!).
Each women should have the right to follow their heart and have faith in what they enjoy being valuable – not just monetarily either. Do stuff for the sake of happiness alone. Don’t look at other mums on social media and think: I ought to be smashing a promotion / have way more followers / be baking with the kids.
Just do YOU!
The moment of clarity wasn’t a moment as such for me, it was a couple of weeks where I felt so exhausted I seriously nearly lost my marbles. Insomnia casued by overthinking, plus the baby waking and just generally being a mum and giving over and over from an empty cup just became too much. I spent one day crying from morning till evening. I couldn’t hide it from the kids. I told them it wasn’t their fault. But how can that not affect them? It had to stop. So I took time out to make some decisions.
First off, I sacked off the weight loss aims. And swapped them for being healthier when I can. Look – eating well is brilliant and we should all try to get our 5 a day. But as for banning foods, well for me as soon as a food is banned I obsessively want it. So now if I want bread I eat bread. I am making much more time for exercise though, which isn’t just good for my pudgy tummy, it’s also good for my frazzled mind.
I am still doing the course. And I love it. I’m really excited about what I will do with it, but it won’t be a huge overambitious goal that will kill me with stress and take me away from my kids, instead it will be something balanced and in line with my values.
We can have babies and careers. And be healthy and happy too. We really can. But let’s be honest: we are not superhumans with endless energy and time. So yes, I’ll retrain to do a career but it will fit around my kids. Yes I’ll be healthy but I won’t be ever be skinny.
I’m sorry if I made you feel like you weren’t enough. Because you absolutely are.
And so am I.