‘I was so unhappy with what I saw. Then I caught my youngest daughter staring at me. All of a sudden, the realization hit me like a load of bricks.’

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“The other day I worked out for the first time since my hysterectomy, and the first time in several months. I went into my bathroom to take before pictures and was so unhappy with what I saw in the mirror that I was allowing my thoughts to focus on the negative.

While I keep getting told that I look great, and facts state that I’ve lost a total of 15 lbs. (if you count the 5 I gained after my hysterectomy), I am so unimpressed with the way my body looks. Unlike after back surgery, it isn’t the scars that are getting to me, it’s the way the weight has settled in my midsection.

I think of how great I looked in high school, and even after kids. Then I snap back into reality and I’m disappointed in what appears to have been me letting things go with my health. I did gain 20 lbs. in 18 months before my hysterectomy. The weight gain was actually a red flag to my gyno.

I’ve always been ‘tiny’ and never struggled with weight loss, only weight gain. This struggle was so unfamiliar to me, and no amount of clean eating or working out was helping. It actually got to a point where I could not work out because my body was so exhausted. It was trying to tell me something was wrong, but I ignored it.

While taking the pictures in my bathroom wearing workout shorts and a sports bra after a challenging workout, there was a whisper of negative thoughts that ran through my head. I was allowing my thoughts to tear me down, rip into my self-esteem, and lower my self-confidence.

I snapped the forward-facing photo, then the side view. As I reviewed the second photo, I saw that I had caught my youngest daughter staring at me.

All of a sudden, the realization that my kiddo was looking at me hit me like a load of bricks.

As her mother, I am who she looks to for guidance on how she should view herself as a female, yet here I was, destroying myself in my thoughts. What hit me harder is the fact that I had almost verbalized all of those negative things I was thinking. Yet even without me saying a word, she picked up on my negative body language and facial expressions.

I realized that if she’s taking cues from me, and I want to build her up, I have to start by building myself up. I never want either one of my girls to struggle with body image; it’s a horrible struggle.

Mommas, we have to be more gentle with ourselves. Our kiddos are not only listening, they’re watching, and in the watching, they’re picking up cues from us.

We may never have the ‘snatched’ body of a 21-year-old, but the belly that sags once held the child that watches. It is okay if you’re perfectly tone and fit, and it’s okay if you’re not. We need to lead and guide our children in the truth of where our true value lies; the truth is that our value is not found in our physical form, but it’s found in Christ, and through loving ourselves.

Only in loving ourselves are we able to effectively and properly love others.

Those little ears are listening, and the eyes are always watching…what are we setting forth as an example for our children to follow?”

Tiffany Jean Hudson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tiffany Jean Hudson.  Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

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