Updated: Mar 21, 2020
You’re probably wondering what in the world kind of blog title is this? Well obviously a “mom’s purpose” isn’t bullying, boob jobs, and botox, but there is a correlation that I will reveal later. It is super important as a mom, especially us girl-moms, (mine is about to enter the world of middle school that I remember all too well), to demonstrate self-love, and refrain from self-loathing, even on a bad day. I have realized there are some personal areas of opportunity that I really need to improve upon. My mom-purpose is to make sure I am the best influence on my daughter. I need to STOP BULLYING MYSELF and start taking my own advice of embracing and loving everything about me. Was I bullied as a child? Yes. Do I remember every little detail of the words and actions of my bullies that have haunted me all my adult years? Yes, unfortunately I do. Have I changed my physical image due to insecurities gifted to me by past bullies? Ugh, yes…regretfully. Do I want to teach my daughter that other people’s opinions and harsh words should impact the way you feel about yourself, so much as to change the person you are? Absolutely, 100%, never ever, ever, ever, NO! Well here is my transparently honest story that I hope will be a self-reminder for myself, as well as an encouragement to other moms.
First off, I want to preface that my childhood life at home really was incredible. My family is amazing. My parents have always been above and beyond loving, caring, nurturing, and supportive. Stacy, my older sister, was very protective of me (unless we were having a one-on-one argument, like the time I punched her in the gut and knocked the wind out of her….no, I’m not proud, but that was probably the only time I actually won, so of course I’m going to remember it!) To be honest, I don’t know what I would’ve done without my big sis. For example, we were walking home from elementary school, and I was up ahead, skipping along with my pink She-Ra backpack. All of a sudden, one of the neighbor boys ran up to me, grabbed my hair, and started spitting on my head, laughing hysterically. I was so terrified that I literally froze and just kept walking, not even saying “stop” or “help.” When Stacy saw what was going on, well, let’s just say you don’t mess with her people, especially her baby sister, or the true “mama bear” will attack! She charged forward, knocked him down, and had him tightly pinned to the sidewalk with one foot. I don’t remember the words she used, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t supposed to be in our child-vocabulary. Even later in life when we were at Kansas State together, she was my saving grace. (I never actually told her, but she was the reason I turned down a track scholarship to a small college in Kansas because I was scared not to have her there with me). Many times she was my protector, whether I needed her to help me with Macroeconomics homework or to come pick me up from the sorority, hysterically sobbing in the middle of the night when I found out my boyfriend had cheated on me. Stacy was my person that always made it better. The point I’m trying to make with all of this, as I hop off this tangent, is regardless of having a wonderful home-life with an abundance of family support, the bullying still happened, and the insecurities began developing. I, on the other hand, was NOT ”developing“ in the good ol‘ puberty category. This brought on a whole new set of teasing, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
With all that being said, we know that no one can physically be there at school to completely prevent or protect kids from being bullied. Early on I was a quiet little girl, shy as shy can be (people that know me now are probably in shock to hear that). I went through quite the extended awkward stage with a mullet hairstyle, huge plastic-framed bottlecap glasses, buck teeth, and my pale white lanky body. There were certain kids that found joy in teasing me, and unfortunately, I wasn’t courageous enough to stand up to them. Instead, I let it fester, get the best of me, and ride alongside every new stage of my life. I could go on forever with different examples that served as a basis for altering myself in the latter years, but I’ll stick with just a few. The teasing of my huge glasses was the reason those bottlecaps had to go, so I got contacts. I still had to wear glasses at night or anytime I had eye issues, and I hated how I looked with them, so I later got LASIK surgery. Ok, big deal, that’s more of a functional self-improvement, but honestly, it was more about the influential past of mocking, than being a convenience-upgrade.
My second example is the effect of what caused me to be an overly obsessive “fake-baker.” From 16 years old, which was the minimum age requirement to use a tanning bed, up until a few years ago, I felt ugly if I didn’t have a tan. (Now I spray tan to try and save what’s left of my previously leathered skin.) Well, my light skin doesn’t tan easily, nor does it stay dark for long, so I was “fake baking” almost every day. But why?? Well, when you are walking through the commons at your middle school and people continuously laugh at how “glowing” white you are, poking and joking saying, “Look it’s Kristen running naked through the commons….Ahhhh the light, the light,” covering their eyes as if the vision is blinding. Along with being called “Kristen, the Great White Hope,” I started to develop quite the complex and later decided I would always be as tan as I possibly can.
My third, and last of many examples that I am omitting for purposes of blog-length, is a simple structure called a “wall.” It’s very much a necessity to keep a building from falling. It’s also a tool used to prevent the confidence of an underdeveloped tween from rising. Looking back, it just seems so silly, but at the time it was not. Boys would rub their hands on the flat surface saying, “Look how flat this wall is…wait, no, it’s Kristen’s chest!” Over and over again, they would remind me of my girlish, (extra on the girl), figure. Let’s be honest, none of us back then really had boobs, but if we are comparing, mine were indented! I even tried padded bras, but boy did they catch on fast and it gave them even better material for ridicule. I was in 7th grade when I decided that if my boobs didn’t eventually grow, I would definitely get a boob job. As soon as I graduated from college and saved up, I had a breast augmentation procedure. Once again, because of an insecurity I carried with me, I changed myself. Side note, big boobs AND breastfeeding is the true meaning of “go big or go home,” and I sure wish I had that girlish figure back!
Fast forward to today. Pretty much every single day I am rushing to get myself ready to make sure my daughter is at whatever event or practice on time. I don’t have time to obsess over my outward appearance when my peripheral vision catches an undesirable glimpse of the mirror staring back at me. Messy bun, powder, mascara, lip gloss (if my 1-year-old hasn’t played hide-and-seek with it for the millionth time), grab whatever (or whoever’s) water bottle that’s easily accessible, hope the keys are in my purse, diaper bag (hoping there’s at least one diaper in there), garage door up, a big yell “LET’S GO….NOW,” baby in car seat, run inside for something I’m sure I forgot (probably my phone), “HURRY UP, BABE” (the “babe” is to soften my aggressive anxious yell), back in truck, probably a <HONK>, finally my daughter is in the truck, seatbelts on, truck in reverse, screeching halt, run back inside for whatever my daughter forgot, back in truck, and GO! No wonder I’m exhausted 24/7…just thinking about it has depleted my energy. We arrive to whatever she has to be at (let’s just say ballet) with 3 minutes to spare…success! I drop her off at the door, park, and wait in the parking lot for an hour versus going inside and having to talk to people and be socially anxious. That’s when the truck mirror hits me in the face. For some reason, it really likes to enhance every imperfection, including each wrinkle waving hello to the world, reminding me of how much I “need” Botox. (In my head, I’ve already planned the needle-day to freeze my face…well, as soon as I stop breastfeeding.)
But why do others’ words depict how we feel about ourselves? Better yet, why do we LET ourselves allow others’ words depict how we feel about ourselves? As a mom, I really need to be careful of what I say around my children. Correction, as a mom, I really need to be careful of what I say around my children AND what I’m saying to my own self. If I’m constantly telling her that beauty comes from the inside, that she is perfect just the way she is, and to never let others’ words and actions change her unique self, then I need to follow my own advice. If I habitually tear myself down, I become exactly what I fear the most for my children. A few months ago, I was having one of “those” days, where everything was going wrong and I just feel defeated. Not only was I exhausted from a baby that doesn’t sleep, (he still doesn’t, by the way), but I was down on myself about my physical appearance. I was self-bashing with little comments here and there, thinking they were “under my breath.” My face was broken out like a teenager, yet my roots were screaming “you are no longer a young chicken!” My fingernails were extra short and broken from playing guitar (ok, that’s kind of cool), but also using my cuticles as an anxiety chew toy (gross). For some reason, I was thinking out loud, which was an open invitation for her ears to absorb. We were in the truck and I will never forget what she said to me. “Mommy, I just wanted to say that even though it’s you talking about your own self, you still shouldn’t say anything bad about yourself. It would be like telling God there’s something wrong with His creation, and He made you perfectly!” Talk about the biggest wakeup call of the century! Ever since she was able to talk and say “Mommy, you’re pretty,” my response has always been, “Thank you so much, baby, but what really makes a person pretty?” Every time she still says, “Your heart and being kind to others.” My sweet girl truly lives by that. She doesn’t say mean things about others, nor about herself. She loves Jesus with her whole heart, and I am so proud of her. Writing this blog makes me realize that I did that, and I should be proud of myself for teaching her what is important!
So now it’s MY turn to fully live by the words I’ve taught my daughter. So I’m asking you, moms…What is it that makes a person beautiful? The answer is simple, yet under-acknowledged. Beauty is derived from the heart, being kind to others, and being kind to YOURSELF! If we live by that, the past “sticks and stones” and even the bullying that goes on as adults, will not survive. What’s crazy is for the first time in my life, I’m actually letting go of things that have controlled, or held back my self-confidence. With the COVID-19 disaster that’s going on right now, you realize the things that matter even more. I will be 40 this July, and I am surprisingly looking forward to it. As far as the 3 examples I gave for some of my past issues, they have been covered in irony. 1) I had my eyes fixed because I didn’t like how I looked in glasses. 15 months ago when I had our son, my eyes went downhill, and I now wear glasses 24/7. They make me feel chic and I absolutely love them! 2) Spray tanning was a weekly necessity for me to feel confident and pretty. They’ve temporarily closed all the tanning salons, and I’m 100% ok with that! In fact, I haven’t tanned in over a month, and I don’t feel any different. I love my skin! 3) Boobs, boobs, boobs…I had to have the “go big or go home” boobs so I’m stuck with them. But they currently belong to the baby right now anyway, and all I can say is be careful what you wish for….or pay your plastic surgeon for, because sometimes less is best. But hey, it is what it is. I was beautiful as my “flat wall” self back then, and I’m beautiful as my voluptuous Dolly self today!
Bullying, boob jobs, and botox? Bullying…just don’t do it. Be kind to others and be kind to yourself, period. Boob jobs and botox…obviously a personal choice, and there’s nothing wrong with making some physical enhancements, as long as it is for that reason. The purpose shouldn’t be to fix something “broken” on the inside.
Listen, life is already hard enough at times, that we don’t need to be hard on ourselves too. Being a mom is not easy, but trust me, your little one(s) love you unconditionally, and see you as the most amazing woman in the world! They love and accept you exactly the way you are, and you should do the same for yourself! To all of you moms…YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! YOU ARE SPECIAL! YOU ARE LOVED, and a mom’s purpose is to know just that!
I started a program a few years ago called “The Bully-Proof-Dream,” based on my book “Anything About You.” It encompasses my own personal experience of being bullied as a child, with the foundation of strength, kindness, courage, and loving yourself! “I know that I am special, even if they don’t agree…but that’s not going to change ANYTHING ABOUT ME!” If you would like a copy of “Anything About You,” they are available for $13 (includes U.S. shipping). It is age-appropriate for babies up to elementary-aged kiddos. Please message me on this site if you are interested in a copy. PayPal accepted firstname.lastname@example.org and Venmo @KKBodiford.