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Real parenting instead of sexy parenting

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about feeling sexy before and after having a baby.  I wrote this post just six months after having my first child.  At the time, what I wrote had meaning for me and helped me to get through the dramatic changes of having a newborn, lack of sleep, getting back to work after maternity leave, and a husband who was deployed all the way around the world.  At the time, doing those little somethings like painting my toes or wearing a great looking outfit, helped me to feel more like myself.

After having another child and now running the gauntlet that having school-aged kids requires, being sexy isn't quite as important.  Yes, I still want to look and feel sexy - after all this gives me a positive approach to each day.  But, more importantly I want to feel real.

Too often, as parents, we try to hide who we truly are.  We want people to think we have it all together.  We want to protect ourselves and our families from people who would put us down or say that we're not doing something correctly or appropriately.  We've often become parents who are living a lie of a life just to appease society and social media.  We are trying to be the 'sexy' parent - and not just with our clothes.

Well, I'm here to say that I'm tired of living this lie.  I would much rather feel real - feel whole - feel supported - feel accepted as a parent and a mother.  In order to do this, we sometimes have to set aside what we think are acceptable parenting guidelines and standards with ourselves and with each other.  We have to stop giving unwanted - and often undesired - advice to other parents when they post about a problem on Facebook.  Yes, if they ask a question or for advice, then we can give it.  But, let's not passively devalue parenting by implying that someone should do something different or better.

I found myself doing this just yesterday.  A friend of mine had posted a picture to her social media profile about a mess her child had made.  It was an absolutely adorable picture and one that numerous parents have seen first hand before.  Instead of just liking the picture, I commented.  Not only did I comment, but as I look back on the comment, I was passively giving a suggestion that was not requested.  To this friend, I apologize.  You are an amazing mother who is doing great things with your child.

This mother did not say anything to me about not wanting the suggestion, but as I've sat here thinking about it, I realized that I am not truly being supportive of my fellow mothers when I - and other people - post comments about how we do/did things or how things could be better.  Not only am I posting in such an emotionally separated manner when my friend cannot see the joy and laughter that I have in remembering when my children made similar messes, but I do not know the mindset that my friend is in when she makes such posts.  She may just want to post in order to vent.  She may be posting to provide humor.  She may just want to share an absolutely adorable picture of her child.

As a mother, I want to change my mindset and be real and whole.  As I seek to do this, I know I will make mistakes.  I won't always express my truest thoughts and emotions as I post about the challenges of the day.  I will try to bite my tongue when I see the subtly demeaning comment that a family or friend makes about my or someone else's parenting.  I will strive to be uplifting in my words and pictures so as to demonstrate the high regard we should each have for our fellow parents.

Through all of this, I will continue to find ways to feel sexy, but I'll understand that there's more to being an empowered mother than just what we physically put on.  We must prepare ourselves internally - in our mind and soul - by surrounding us with honesty and real parenting.

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