The Best Gift to Give Yourself

I was mindlessly scrolling the other day and fell upon an article of “America’s Most Beautiful Women.” Of course I would pick this article as I wait at my favorite med spa for Botox. My hair was in a bun and I’m in joggers, likely with cheese handprints on them from one of the six little hands that grab me throughout the day. Reading it was sure to make me feel better about myself, right?

However, the article proved to be a wonderful interview. It provided insight into a seemingly perfect female. The woman featured talked about her success as an actress throughout the years. Specifically, the challenges she overcame as a young actress. But the part that really struck me was her long dialogue about her struggle with self-image, insecurity, Imposter Syndrome, and regular depression.

For a brief moment I honestly thought, “HOW IN THE WORLD are any of us Average Joes supposed to feel good about ourselves if one of America’s most beautiful women struggles?”

The women whom we idolize, whether it be political figures, celebrities, women at our jobs, or leaders in the community, are held to such a high standard. And somewhere along the way forget we they are just human beings like you and me. Although their lives may look a little different (jet-setting from coast to coast isn’t on our weekly agenda), the struggles as a female, or as human beings in general, are the same.

We Can’t Do It All

This woman talked about motherhood and how she often felt inadequate in her role as a mom and her role as an actress. She found it impossible most days to juggle it all. At the end of the day, one or the other fails. Man, did that resonate with me. Especially in the 2020/2021 pandemic era.

How many times did we find ourselves throwing up our hands, feeling that we just can’t do it all? Every day it was a different battle. You might be a great mom one day and a horrible employee the next, and then the next day could be different. It’s an ongoing battle that all mothers face, regardless of our “status” or career.

She also talked a lot about her self-image. And receiving harsh comments on social media about her looks, or what she was wearing. She described how that really messed with how she looked at herself and caused her to critique her own looks.

My heart sank for her, and for all of us.

I am not sure if this particular point of the article really resonated with me because I am raising two daughters or because being a women is just HARD! We are always comparing, looking, judging (which we are all guilty of), and being judged. So we try to get workouts in and pump our body with heathy foods, but usually find ourselves downing McDonalds in the drive-thru and choosing sleep over 5:00 a.m. workouts. We sometimes work like we aren’t a mother and mother like we don’t work.

We teach our little girls to love themselves just as they are, but look in the mirror and judge ourselves as they watch from a distance. Then we step on the scale and scream, but teach them it doesn’t matter what that number is; that what’s important is on the inside. We are in a constant battle against ourselves, and oftentimes a contradiction to the little girls that we are raising.

Growing up I wanted to be an actress and live that lifestyle, but now the older I get the more I realize it’s hard enough just trying to navigate life as a woman and mom. I could not imagine having to do it on a national scale, with the whole world judging, ready to jump on any little mistake. I mean we all have at least one judgmental Karen in our lives and that is enough!

Grace and Self-Care

The last portion of the article talked about grace and self-care. How grace was her way of dealing with it all. She didn’t need to be perfect, she didn’t need to be anything other than herself, and at the end of the day the only person whose opinion mattered was her own. Putting herself first most of the time made everything else fall into place.

Easier said than done right? But if we aren’t fueling our own tank, how do we expect any of the other parts to run well, or even at all? I know without a doubt the days that I don’t eat well, or don’t get enough sleep are the same days that I don’t accomplish as much. I am less productive at work, or I find myself short-tempered with my spouse or kids.

Those days that I don’t give myself grace or self-care and let those feelings of inadequacy slip in are the hardest days.

Those are also the days where I look at my two little girls and I worry the most. I worry that if I am not taking the time to care for and love myself, it will in turn be something that they see. And I am far from perfect. I may not have the patience I used to. Or the energy that I had when I was in my 20’s. The remaining flab in my stomach from having three kids might always stick around, and it might always pain me to throw on a swimsuit.

But I have to remember it’s more important to be in that pool with your kids than what that suit looks like on you. It’s more important to attend that kitchen dance party in your sports bra and sweatpants with that little extra love chub than to not attend at all. Because the most important part is being there.

Give Yourself Some Grace

As a mom you are never going to win, all the time. You are never going to be perfect, and you are never going to have it all. So stop feeling like a failure if you don’t. We may not have all of America watching and commenting on our every move. But more importantly, we have those little ones watching. And if we can’t show up and love ourselves as we are, how can we ever expect them to?

As always, remember that everyone you meet is fighting a battle of some kind. So be gentle. Give them grace, and save some for yourself as well.

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Ashley Bosh
Ashley is a North Dakota native and lives in Fargo with her husband, Zach, and their three sweet, energetic kiddos Ella, William and Charleigh. A full-time working mom in sales, Ashley constantly finds herself trying to find the balance between family and work. When she is not folding piles of laundry, playing taxi driver, volunteering to "make" cookies she bought at the store, or showing any given member of her family where the "lost" item is, Ashley is dreaming about the trips she will take one day and planning her early morning workouts that will happen once her youngest figures out the whole sleep thing. She also enjoys lots of family time, summers at the lake, and volunteering in our amazing community. Ashley's guilty pleasures are dry shampoo, Botox, coffee, and red wine. She loves her mama tribe and recognizes how important community truly is.


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