Let Me Start At The Beginning
For the last 8 years, my life has revolved around my children. I have been their chauffeur, nurse, confidant, disciplinarian … the list goes on and on. While I have fully enjoyed motherhood, somewhere between wiping butts and the developmental milestones, I lost myself. I can vividly remember the moment my daughter was born. I felt simultaneously elated and totally lost. The me I had lived with my entire life was gone. That girl had died, been replaced by this new and foreign person. As I embraced my new role of motherhood, the old me seemed to slip further and further away until one day I didn’t even really know who I was anymore other than mom.
That nagging feeling went on for years, got a little worse after my son was born (2 years after my daughter), and admittedly I never felt quite at home in my own skin after that. My body was a completely different entity than it was before childbirth, and in many ways I hated it. I hated it because it had failed me during delivery, it didn’t heal as fast or as well as I had hoped, and it didn’t look or feel like it did before kids. I looked in the mirror and hated what I saw.
Fast forward a few years
When my son was 3, I began seeing a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist and Mental Health Therapist to begin to really heal my body and mind. The combination was proving to be helpful. I still didn’t love my body, but I was growing more comfortable in my own skin … or so I thought. Then one day I went to brunch with a friend.
As we ate, I told my friend I needed a gift for my husband but was having trouble with ideas. You see, my husband and I have been friends for 25 years, and together for 12 so it’s hard to still surprise one another. He was also away on a year-long military deployment at the time, so I wanted something totally unexpected that would boost his morale. That’s when she suggested a boudoir photo shoot …
I almost choked on my food! “No way! I can’t do that!” I told her through nervous giggles. “Why not?!” she pressed. “Because I’m a mom! And besides, I would never feel comfortable.” I said. “Oh my God, stop it! He would never expect it, so it would be awesome!” And she was right … my husband would NEVER expect such a gift. So several hours and a few glasses of wine later, I text my wedding photographer. “Hey man. This is SOOO weird to ask, but do you do boudoir shoots? If so, could you do one for me as a gift to Chris?” That text was promptly followed by the facepalm and nervous face emoji … you know because I’m awkward. An agonizing 20 minutes later I got a response … “Not weird at all. I do them all the time and would be happy to do one for you.”
No Backing Out Now
UGH WHAT HAD I JUST DONE?!?!? Why did I send that text?! Had I lost my mind? I couldn’t back out now. We had set a date and location. I had scheduled a hair and makeup appointment. It was happening. As the date approached I thought of every single excuse to bail, but didn’t. So there I was, it was finally the morning of the shoot.
After getting my hair and makeup done, I met the photographer at the shoot location. I was a nervous wreck. While he set up the lighting and camera, I got ready and got a little liquid courage. As I sat there thinking “What the hell are you doing?” something in me began to shift. I realized there was something exciting about pushing outside of my comfort zone, and before I knew it, I was ready to shoot.
Let me tell y’all something … IT WAS MAGICAL! Somehow, in the 2 hours of shooting, I found myself. I re-discovered the playful, confident, and vivacious me I thought had died 8 years prior. For the first time in EIGHT long years, I was seeing my body as more than a vessel for bearing children. I felt independent, confident, and more alive than I had felt in almost a decade. I was a woman who was going to do whatever the heck I pleased, and on that day, I wanted to celebrate my body. I wanted to honor it and not just accept it. I wanted to love it for every new curve and cellulite dimple it had gained. Like an aged wine, I wanted to savor everything that came with its maturity. I wanted to reclaim my body for myself, and that’s exactly what I did. I was almost giddy by the time the shoot was over.
As we were wrapping up, the photographer asked “Well, did you have fun?” I shouted “OH MY GOD, YES!!!! Why doesn’t every woman do this?! I feel so empowered right now!” He chuckled and said, “and you thought this was a gift for Chris.” He was right. I had gone into this with the mindset that this was just a gift for my husband. I had no expectations that I would enjoy it … let alone have it be life-altering. What I got on that day was one of the most incredible gifts I have ever received … myself. I got myself back. The me that died to motherhood had been resurrected and was now co-existing with my mom self, and it felt incredible.
It’s been a year since the shoot, and I still feel empowered when I think about it. Something about the shoot reminded me that there’s more to me than motherhood. Sure, it’s my most cherished role, but it’s not my only role. I’m also a wife, friend, sister, physical therapist, CrossFit enthusiast, and runner. I enjoy gardening, painting, reading, and day dates with my hubby. I love getting out of my comfort zone, but most importantly, I am myself. I am authentically, unapologetically, and transparently myself. And that is a beautiful thing.
Now It’s Your Turn
So to any mamas out there feeling lost, or like a shell of your former self … may I suggest a boudoir shoot. Even if no one other than you sees the photos … DO IT! You will not regret it. If you’re local to NOLA, I highly suggest Titus at Titus Childers Photography. He was incredibly professional and made me feel super comfortable throughout the entire process.