Prior to becoming a mom—and for most of my young adult life—I was plagued by worries and insecurities. While on the outside I worked hard (so hard) to project an image of someone who had it all together, in my lowest points, I was crippled by so much self-doubt that I wondered if I would ever get out from under it.
I hated feeling that way—and hated how self-centered it made me feel—and, one day, I decided to try to change my thinking. And while I did a lot of the heavy lifting on my own, something kind of magical happened when I became a mom: Suddenly, all those doubts, insecurities, and worries I had held onto for years...stopped mattering to me.
It wasn't that they completely disappeared—I can still look in the mirror and rattle off a handful of things I would change or provide you a laundry list of things I want to work on in my life and relationships—it was just that everything instantly popped into perspective and became just as important or unimportant as it should be.
Here are 10 things I don't worry about or put up with now that I'm a mom:
1. Having a million friends
Don't get me wrong—I firmly believe in the importance of "the village" and can't imagine getting through my day without the support of my closest circle. But that pressure to be good with everyone and have a million social media "friends"? Not even on my radar anymore. Parenthood has this way of focusing and refining your inner circle naturally, and when you pause to actually reflect on it a year or two after having a baby? You realize that the ones that really matter are still there—and you don't really miss the ones that didn't stick around.
2. Bras that aren't comfortable
Would you believe that for most of my life I've never had a bra I truly loved? Instead, I've made do with styles that were just a little too tight (or loose) or gapped (or pinched). And then I thought, Why am I doing this? So I stopped accepting the discomfort. (Because if I want to be poked and prodded uncomfortably, I have a toddler who does that on the regular.) Now I only accept bras that get it. (This is the most comfortable bra I've ever tried.)
Bras that get that, while I'm small-chested, I have a wide rib cage, and that needs to be accommodated. Bras that get that underwires suck, and that straps should always adjust to adapt to whatever shirt I feel like wearing (or is, at the very least, clean that day). Uncomfortable bras? No mama has time for that.
3. Those last 3-5 pounds
Like most women, I haven't always felt immune to societal pressure to conform to a certain body type. And I would say that from age 16 on, I was probably perpetually on some kind of diet or exercise regime designed to lose weight. Even after I left some of my more crippling insecurities of youth behind, I still found myself plagued by those "last 3 to 5 pounds" that I was sure my life would be so much better without. But when I became a mom, something shifted (and it wasn't just the number on the scale).
Motherhood came with an entirely different appreciation of my body, along with the responsibility to project a model of a confident, healthy woman to my daughter. I stopped worrying about what the scale said (or the if the backs of my thighs were smooth or if my stretch marks were fading fast enough) and focused on how I felt instead. And, you know what? It turns out my life can be pretty amazing, no matter what I weigh.
4. Accepting products or services that don't actually serve me
One of the quickest ways to get under a mom's skin? Waste her time. Every day, I'm pulled in a million directions as I try to keep on top of #allthethings, from keeping my kids alive and happy to getting all my work done to maintaining the relationships in my life (and, you know, keeping us from living in squalor at home).
When a product or service doesn't deliver on a promise, it's enough to incur some scorched earth mama wrath. But on the flipside, it has also made me fiercely loyal to the products that get it. Whether it's a hair care product that never fails me or the perfect tank top that leaves me feeling supported and confident, when I find a winner, I stick with it.
5. Having all the answers
Prior to having a child, I felt an immense pressure to never look stupid. As a result, I sometimes pretended to understand things I didn't, or didn't ask questions when I could have used more information. But as a mom, that's not only a dangerous strategy for yourself—it could also affect your child. So many women have walked this path before me, and I realized quickly that I could either learn everything the hard way—or benefit from their wisdom.
I also want to make sure my children understand that curiosity and a desire to learn are so much more important than faking looking smarter than you are. Now, I ask so many questions. I admit when I don't know what someone's talking about. I keep a humble mindset about my own smarts. And I feel more informed than ever.
6. Stressing about my period
Since I was 13, my period has given me a mild amount of anxiety. I always worried it would arrive without warning, that I would leak through my tampon, or that somehow it would humiliate me in some other unexpected way. And then I had a baby, and, possibly for the first time, I truly understood the importance of my (at times unwanted) monthly visitor.
While I wouldn't say I love getting that visit from Aunt Flo, I appreciate my period like never before—and, thanks to my Knix Leakproof Underwear, it doesn't get to dictate what I wear or don't wear anymore. Now, instead of stressing, my period is just part of what makes my body amazing (and I rock white pants whenever I feel like it).
7. If my house looks perfect
Pinterest can do a real number on your head. And while I'll never stop searching for new recipes or outfit ideas, one thing I've stopped worrying about is whether or not I have a perfect, HGTV-approved living room. While part of me would love a cream-colored couch, delicate throw pillows, and a spotless living room rug, the fact is that my kid is just going to slam toys into whatever furniture I have and probably spill whatever is left in her sippy cup on the rest of it. In this season of life, I've realized there are so many more important things that boasting a "pinnable" living space—I'd much rather have a house full of life anyway.
8. Comparing myself to others
The more moms I befriend and get to really know, the more I realize that we're all just winging it. Whereas, a few years ago, all it would take to send me into a self-deprecating spiral would be an Instagram post of a woman who seemed to have it all together, now I realize that, odds are, this is really just a snippet of her life.
While she might be one of those mystical unicorn moms who truly never gets split ends or only serves her children homemade, organic, Whole30 meals every day, it's a lot more likely that she's just like me—her hair is that full because she hasn't washed it in days and there's a pile of (week-old) unfolded laundry just out of the frame. Instead of worrying if I'm keeping up, mama me knows how to keep the superficial stuff in its place. We're all working hard to be our best, whatever that means to each of us.
9. Feeling self-conscious
There have been so many things in life I've passed up or chickened out of because I was worried I would be embarrassed. Singing in front of groups, meeting new people, going on that adventure—I would let the fear of failure or looking foolish talk me out of what could have been an amazing, fun, or life-changing opportunity. But the thought of my child letting life pass her by—or not letting her full, incredible personality shine—due to fear? It guts me.
So I'm learning to put my own nervousness away as much as I can. I dance in public whenever my daughter asks, in wild, flailing moves that draw stares. I sing at the top of my lungs in the middle of gymnastics class because our jam just came on and my kid needs a duet partner. I throw on the swimsuit (without worrying about any curves on my body) because it's 80 degrees and we need to hit the pool now! And the more I pretend to be brave, the more I start to truly feel myself leaving all that old self-consciousness in the dust.
10. What society says I "should" do
Seemingly from the moment those two lines appear on the pregnancy test, the world seems to be bursting with "well-meaning advice." You know the kind: suggestions on what to eat (or not eat), tips for avoiding stretch marks, grandmotherly scolding about whether or not your baby is dressed warm enough or if she should be touching that.
On top of that, women battle a lifetime of people telling us what we can do, shouldn't do, will never do. We should be perfect mothers, with bodies that "bounce back" from pregnancy. We should listen to what everyone says instead of trusting our own judgment. We should put what we want on hold for what we should be doing.
You know what I say? Forget that noise. Becoming a mother has taught me how strong and capable I am—and how much I innately know because I know what my family and I need better than any outsider. And that is exactly what I plan to do from now on.
This article is sponsored by Knix. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.