I let out a sigh of exhaustion as we rock back and forth.

The toys are picked up. The laundry is put away. The final daylight is creeping through the blinds.

The silence is loud as she drinks the last drop of her bottle and nestles in my arms.

This is when my best thinking happens – a great idea, a new recipe to try, something I’m thankful for. Unfortunately, it’s also when my worst thinking happens.

And, not “worst” like bad. More like destructive or harmful.

As the day closes, I feel my mind trying to get the best of me. We rocked and my thoughts turned toward my body. One thought led to another, as they do, and I continued down the path of self-critiquing.

Swollen fingers.
Tired eyes.
Softer stomach.
Weaker arms.

I was on a roll.

Negative Thoughts: 1
Ashley: 0

I glanced down at my daughter who had her tiny fingers wrapped around mine.

Sometimes our negative thoughts consume us for hours, days, weeks, or longer. But those little fingers grasping mine stopped me in my tracks.

To her, my swollen fingers poke her belly and tickle her back. They push her on the swing and play “this little piggy.”

To her, my tired eyes gaze into hers each night, letting her know she’s safe to fall asleep. They meet hers each morning and remind her that “mommy always comes back.”

To her, my softer stomach is where she buries bashfully when daddy teases, “I’m gonna get you.”

To her, my weaker arms scoop her up when she crawls toward me and wrap her up in bedtime snuggles.

Negative Thoughts: 0
Ashley: 1

Oh, to see myself through her eyes.

I am safe. I am fun. I am silly. I am strong.

This time, the negative thoughts didn’t win.

It brought me joy to think about all the ways I have used and still use my body for my daughter.

From pregnancy to birth and breastfeeding. From midnight newborn rocks to strolls around our neighborhood. From crawling after her around the house to cuddling her in my lap for story-time.

To the other moms out there who have an ongoing mental list of all the ways their body has changed postpartum, I see you. I am you. And, I encourage you to make a new list. Make a list of things you love about your body. Make a list of all the ways your body works to be a mother. Make a list of all the ways your children see you.

May we see ourselves like the safe, fun, silly and strong moms that our children do.