I’ve been writing different versions of this post in my phone notes the past few nights while camping out by my three year old’s bed. Her body has decided to take her brand new ear tubes for a high octane test drive, steered by Mystery Preschool Virus #1,763,980 of the year. Negative for COVID, positive for WTF.
It’s ok. Really. No, actually it’s not. THIS IS HARD. I didn’t know that parenting would be the hard we expected plus the hard no one told us about. There are things you just can’t possibly know until you know, you know? But, in any case, outside of the germ-pocalypse I’ve been restless anyways, spending the last few weeks figuring out how to process what today is: MommaStrong’s 10 year anniversary.
Deep breath for that. 10 years.
In an effort to mark this incredible milestone, I’ve been combing through ancient email accounts and dropbox folders, searching for images and videos from the start of MommaStrong. This means I have come face to face with The Past, along with a very complete visual documentation of said past. Who else can say that they have a video of themselves working out everyday-ish for the past ten years? It’s impressive from the outside, I know. And from where I stand, it’s also been jostling and definitely cringe-worthy.
The plan for these images and videos is to create a time lapse of MommaStrong history. It has reminded me of kids’ graduation slideshows that stir up hot happy tears as we feel hope and pride and nostalgia. This slideshow, though, did something different for me. I felt proud, yes, and also bewildered. So much has happened and yet so much is the same. It was a reminder that parenting shoves us all in this strange bubble where so much is being learned, so much growth is occurring, so much time is passing, and yet so much is the same. Like those sci-fi movies where someone gets frozen and then emerges into the world decades later.
So, yeah, I felt for the young 31 year old me on screen, knowing all the things she was going to go through in the next ten years. Wishing I could be a traffic director for her life, cutting off certain turns that she didn’t need to take and beckoning her to slow down. I also felt for the 41 year old me now, clearly weathered and clearly needing a good long vacation. But, above all of that, I also see hard fought wisdom, the sort of wisdom that will grant me the tools to be the traffic director now I needed back then.
Knowing this brings me to the purpose of this post, which is gratitude and reverence. I’d like to say a few quick things about what Mommastrong has taught me (and you maybe) and celebrate where we are going and what MommaStrong will teach us in the years to come. Here we go:
Thank you, MommaStrong, for teaching me that I actually have a pelvic floor and that it involves more than just a vagina. I didn’t know that before I had kids or even after, until I met you.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for teaching me that my belly wasn’t broken, but that the process of pregnancy and birth resulted in, shocker, medical conditions like diastasis recti that weren’t my fault and that deserved clinical level help.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for teaching me how to do weird technological things way back in 2012 when you basically still had to know html. I feel special because of you.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for helping me feel loved even in my galactic cat leggings and with my weird/lame jokes.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for giving me something else to do other than drink/yell/cry/tantrum/run away/fight/flight/freeze.
Thank you, MommaStrong for my glutes. They are awake. And thank you for letting me use the word tuckus as much as I please. I also enjoy the cheeky cheeks opportunities.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for teaching me that a hand bra is the best bra of all bras when doing jumping jacks, especially while breastfeeding. Just hold them, when in doubt.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for relieving me of chronic, debilitating back pain that I didn’t think I would ever ever ever recover from.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for giving me a place to be a leader in fitness without asking me to prove my value through how fit I look.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for creating new qualifications for a woman who is well and for being one of the first in this industry to demand change.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for being nimble, for sharing ownership of your method and your presence with every member who takes a risk and signs up here. Thank you for giving them room and safety to ask for what they need and help you become better.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for standing up for body ownership for all humans as a human right and not a political chess piece.
Thank you, MommaStrong for your work in diversity and inclusion, which I know is only just at the beginning of where it will be. Thank you for your new trainers and their expansive narrative and experience of parenthood.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for my wardrobe of basically all MommaStrong logo clothes. I would be naked without you.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for getting me through the pandemic. And two divorces. And getting sober. And heartbreak. And three kids. And sick kids. And, well, effing life.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for asking me to show up as I am and holding me accountable every day.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for loving me through all of my hair cuts.
Thank you, MommaStrong, for being enough. Always.
Before I sign off, I want to reaffirm my vows here, my commitment to this work, how it’s changed and how it will change. I am here for it as long as it will have me. And I know that the past bit of time has been hard on all of us, so I am officially hitting the refresh button on my inner browser to get curious and devoted to how to help us all out of “it”.
The hard truth is while looking at the videos and images of myself over the years, it was clear to me that the last 3 have been the hardest. For the most part, I can say that I can see how I have wilted. That’s how it feels and that is how it shows up.
That is hard to witness, to see yourself clearly like that without self-hate or judgment, just witnessing. It makes me sad and mad and all the basic feelings. But it also brings me to a place of deep compassion for all of us who have gotten through what we have gotten through. I also find the burden of hope in here, which says, you know, it’s not too late to heal and to find a new way that we didn’t know we needed.
If you feel wilted and weathered, hi. It’s ok. No wonder we do. Look at what we have been through. Our focus here at MommaStrong remains what it has always been, but in the coming years ahead, we will be extra focused on how to help you show up for yourself even when there is no space to show up.
This sort of showing up within the massive presence of uncertainty in the world is a skill that will require a new kind of training. The old mantras of even just a few years ago no longer apply. “Just Do It” won’t cut it anymore. We need more than mere inspiration. We need to know how to do “it” and why we ought to do “it”. We need the nuts and bolts for our real deal life in a wobbly world.
I personally want to find a way to feel safe in my body again so that I can engage fully again. I want to relearn—or maybe learn for the first time—what it means to carve out the space to make my wellness matter and to truly put it first. I want to know my worth and I want to protect yours.
We will do this together, this much I know.