Why I Finally Take Care of Myself – Scary Mommy

Why I Finally Take Care of Myself

I spent my entire twenties as a dedicated couch potato. Sleep late? Yup. Chocolate PopTarts for breakfast? Four, please! Weeknight activity? Watching Friends on the couch with a bag of Doritos, thankyouverymuch.

I was never unhappy enough with my appearance or fitness level to do anything differently, although my jeans size always fell firmly in the “plus size” category, and I got winded climbing the two flights of stairs to my apartment. At 25, I got married. To a man whose business is fitness. He had loved me as a couch potato since we met at age 18, and I saw no reason to change for him since he seemed quite pleased with the junk in my trunk.

When I was 28 I had my first daughter and the couch potato life seemed like a natural fit for someone with an infant. When I was 31, I had my second daughter. Nine months later, I ran my first half marathon.

For the first half of my training, I hated Every. Single. Mile. Sure, I was doing it for me — I had held onto a few pregnancy pounds from each of my girls, and was getting close to needing a size bigger than I’d ever worn before, but mostly it was my girls who kept me putting one foot in front of the other.

My oldest daughter was three, and I just couldn’t keep up with that energy level. Her little sister was just a baby, but the busiest baby I had ever met. I needed to keep up with them and the demands of being a mom. More than that, I wanted to be an example for them. A strong, capable, confident woman. When I was wavering at mile ten on race day, it was their sweet faces on the sidewalk, cheering for me, that made me keep running when I thought I couldn’t.

“Skinny” is not part of the conversation with my girls, but “strong” and “healthy” are big. I don’t talk about losing weight or looking fat, because the world is going to bombard them soon enough.

When I was 33, I had a surprise baby, a boy. I had a five year old, a two year old, and a newborn. I had a husband who had just started a new business, a part-time job with many clients to please, and an energy- and joy-sucking case of post-partum anxiety. Something had to go, and running could have been the first thing. I had shown my girls I was strong, right? I didn’t have time. I didn’t have the energy, or the desire. I was barely keeping my head above water and keeping all three kids alive seemed like the best I could do.

But then I knew I had to do it for my boy. The boy who will grow up to be a boyfriend, a husband, a father. Just like my girls need to know that women can be strong, so does my son. I want him to be drawn to someone with healthy self-esteem based on what she can do, not how she looks. Someone adventurous who feels strong enough to go rock-climbing or mountain biking with him.

When he is a father, I want him to teach his daughters to play sports just as he would his sons.

So many moms are aware of being a role model for their daughters, but our boys need that, too. They will very likely be forming their ideas of good wives/girlfriends based on what we model for them.

I want all three of my kids to know being healthy is important, and feel like they can do anything. I want them to know women can be strong and confident.

And I want them to be comfortable eating that fourth chocolate PopTart every once in a while, too.

Related post: Through My Children’s Eyes

Julie Holt is the mother of three fantastic (except when they're not) children under six, and the wife of the world's most patient man.  She works part time as a hairstylist, but should probably just call herself a therapist. Julie spends her free time running, reading, and fantasizing about actually having free time. You can find her on Twitter.