beauty after babyBeauty after baby is difficult to capture some days. While mom hair and jeans are the source of jokes, I found beauty in the flawed looks of motherhood.

Staying at home

For nine months, the focus is on your belly. How big is it. Are you carrying high or low? Everyone has an opinion on your belly. It’s the star of the show. I knew my body was changing, far beyond my belly. However, the real shock came 10 months after my daughter arrived. I looked in the mirror, and barely recognized the woman staring back at me.

Mommy and daughter time all the time. It’s my new way of life as a new stay at home mom. Finally, I can go to those mommy and me events. The ones I used to stare at in Facebook groups envious of the moms who could attend while I was at work.

Leaving the professional world wasn’t easy. I’m a career oriented person. However, I knew spending more time with our daughter is the best thing for our family. I knew it in my heart, an I certainly knew it when I came up for air ten months after the arrival of my daughter. I looked in the mirror, and didn’t recognize who I saw.

On the morning of our first mommy and baby outing, I scurried around the house. Baby is fed. Check. Baby has a clean diaper. Check. Baby has milk. Check. The baby to do list never ends whether you are working or staying at home.

There’s one big difference between working and staying at home. That’s mom time. When you are home with the kids, you have no time to yourself. At least when I worked, I had thirty minutes to myself each morning. That was my time. Time to get ready for work in silence. Now, I’m lucky if I take a shower.

As I ran out the door for our first mommy and baby outing, I glanced in the mirror real quick. The reflection stopped me in my tracks. The first time I paused all morning. It wasn’t the greasy hair thrown back in a ponytail that stuck out. It’s the eyes. Long, drawn, and droopy bags hanging from them. The bags hung halfway down my face. How come I never noticed them before?

Those bags didn’t appear overnight. I never noticed them, because I never wanted to admit to myself that parenting is hard. I lived in this fast paced professional world, where home problems were dismissed. When you decide to stay at home, you do it to get your family on track and to better them.

Staying at home is also full of self-reflection. You think about who you are, and what your family stands for. Finally, I realized the impact nine months of no sleep and stressful work took on me.

Parenting presents its own set of challenges for every parent. For us, sleep evaded us. For ten long months. I cringe when I hear a new mom tell me she’s getting 12 hours of sleep. I’m lucky to get four or five hours of sleep each night. I doze more than sleep and after awhile it really takes a physical toll. We’re seeing improvements, but still struggling. There’s nothing like a daily 3:30 A.M. wakeup call. I feel the toll this is taking on my body. Now, I see the toll it’s taking.

My otherwise bright, blue eyes no longer sparkle. They’re overshadowed by the dull, dark circles underneath. No wonder nobody can tell where my daughter’s eyes come from. They always look at me oddly wondering if she got her baby blues from me. Yes, they are from me and her dad. My husband’s eyes are blue too. You just can’t tell I’m a contributor of those baby blues because mine are now overshadowed by dark circles from all those sleepless nights.

“Mom look” is a blessing

Recognizing how my body changed after having a baby is one thing. Society treating me like a different person is another. Moms are the butt of many jokes including on SNL. There are mom jeans. Mom haircuts. MNO or Mom’s Night Out. I’ll add mom eyes to the list. Oh, so many mom things that can be the subject of jokes.

Luckily, nobody told me I look like a mom. Nobody’s commented on my clothing or the big bags. At least, not yet.

What a juxtaposition just weeks after I quit a job that focuses so much on appearance. As a journalist, you’ll hear it from consultants and / or viewers if your appearance is not up to their standards. For nine months, I stared at myself in a mirror as I applied makeup everyday. However, those bags never struck me like they did just moments before I embarked on my new life. My new 8 hour job. I mean 24 hour workday as a mom.

A job that I couldn’t feel more blessed to have no matter the impact on my appearance. I walked into the playdate ready to defend myself. A bit of that journalistic defense mechanism ready to kick in — a defense mechanism I needed a few times to deal with viewer hate mail. I quickly realized, I have a lot of company. Hats, gym clothes, and pony tails filled the room. Other moms who are also just getting by because they too are putting their child first.

As we sang songs and my daughter socialized, her smiles and giggles reminded me life as a stay at home mom is all worth it. She doesn’t care if I have black eyes or blue eyes. She just wants me to love her and spend as much time as possible together.

The bags will disappear once my daughter gets the hang of sleeping. Right now, they are part of being her mom. We all have our own challenges. For us, it’s sleep. We’ll figure it out. Those bags scared me when I first noticed them, but they won’t scar me. My eyes will sparkle again. For now, those bags are a badge of honor. Those dark shadows will never overshadow the joy I feel every day as a mom.