In February 2018 I just landed an amazing job, bought my own house, just turned 23, felt the most comfortable I ever had in my own skin, and recently retired from competing for Miss Louisiana. I felt like things had fallen into place until I found out I was pregnant.
I was scared, but not for the typical reasons someone young and not married would be scared about having a baby. I had supportive family and friends. That was no issue.
It felt like a death sentence.
I was scared because of everyone telling me “just wait”. Everything I was told and read made being pregnant feel like a death sentence. I was generally advised to hurry up and get married, quit working out, stop caring about how I look, stop stressing so much about work, and kiss all my near future goals goodbye.
I was seeing all of these mom blog posts, books, and podcasts to the tune of “it’s going to be okay, momma”, “it’s okay that your house is a train wreck”, “you’re doing great”, and “you need to stop comparing yourself to other moms”. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t ask myself the following question: What the heck am I getting myself into where I’m going to need all this constant validation?
Postpartum was even worse. It seemed like everything on my Facebook and everything any mom wanted to talk to me about was the rock n’ play recall, breastfeeding vs formula, and when to start solids. People argued about breastfeeding vs formula more than my political science colleagues debated Trump vs Hillary in 2016.
At some point, I recognized that I was in charge of my reality and this didn’t have to be it.
I love my daughter. My heart quadrupled in size the day I had her, but I’m more than a mom. Through lots of small decisions about who and what I surround myself with, I’m a great deal closer to figuring out how to embrace 100% of being a mom, while simultaneously embracing 100% of what it means to be a woman in today’s world.
I remember when I first started bringing my daughter to daycare and was approached by a teacher there. She wanted to know why I dropped her off at 6am in gym clothes. My daughter was an infant and it was the only time I could go to the gym with my job, then. I like to think the mom I am now would say “Because I would like to fit into my clothes again” and not think about it ever again. Back then, I stewed over it for a week. It was an absolute waste of my energy over something that should not have mattered at all.
I’m much more aware now that I’m the only person in the world that can give my daughter a happy, patient, fulfilled mother. I strive to do this through deepening my Christian faith, still reaching for new goals, doing my best to leave absolutely no room for mom guilt, and finding things my equally-strong-willed daughter and I love to do together.
If I can raise my daughter to ambitiously strive for whatever she wants with the understanding that she doesn’t have to box herself into one category, I will feel accomplished.