Inspiration

I Was About To Get Plastic Surgery Until My 9-Year-Old Told Me This

They say that kids say the darnedest things.

They also have a subtle way of teaching us a few things about ourselves; whether it be where we could practice a little more patience or how to be courageous. As a single mother of two daughters, Alannah, 9, and Tahliah, 2, going on 20, I know this far too well!


Over a year ago, I ended a long-term relationship. One of the hardest decisions I've made in a while, considering the time invested, the fact that I thought I was going to marry my ex, recently giving birth to our child, and already having one failed marriage under my belt. Those close to me, know that for quite some time, I really struggled with my self-esteem and rediscovering myself. I even played with the idea of plastic surgery. After all, what's wrong with a little nip here and tuck there to get you back in the game... right?

Instead, I signed up for a gym membership and began working out. My plan was to eat right and get it tight, then go under the knife to tighten up my tummy and rid of some pesky stretch marks.

Only, it didn't go as planned.

I exercised and ate clean and it appeared as if I gained weight. While I could appreciate my rump which had rounded out over time, fact of the matter was, I wasn't remotely close to my pre-pregnancy weight and I wasn't happy! To makes matters worse, I began to eat my feelings, which turned out to be Reeses, Popeyes, Starbucks fraps and Chipotle. I didn't want to get dressed or leave the house, because I felt like a stuffed sausage in my clothes.

I even began a nasty habit of stalking Instagram accounts of new moms who flaunted their six packs and perfect breasts while posing in bikinis.

 

Before you knew it, I stopped taking pictures altogether.

By last fall, I had saved up enough money for surgery. While this should have felt like a victory, as I thought it was the answer to all my weight woes, instead, I felt ashamed. "Here I have two gorgeous girls who I tell each day how beautiful they are... just the way they are," I said to myself. Yet, here I was crying over my curves and basing my happiness on the size of my waistline. But it wasn't until my nine-year-old checked me one morning while helping her get dressed for school, that I really had my "Aha" moment.

"I feel so FAT!" I gasped, while grabbing my love handles in frustration.

My eldest replied, "Mama stop. You are perfect just the way you are. Isn't that what you tell us?"

Meanwhile, my tot who had been resting in the doorway with her hand on her hip added, "Yeah mama, you're purty." Instantly, I felt like a complete failure.

[Tweet "Here I was crying over my curves and basing my happiness on the size of my waistline."]

I began to look back over my extended pity party and thought about all the opportunities lost where I could have been a real good example. It quickly became clear that it was time to face my bigger insecurities and not just fix what was on the outside, but how I felt personally on the inside as wel.

The problem is, that in today's society, it's ingrained in our minds that women have to be "bad b*tches" at all times, despite their race, age, and whether or not they have children. When in fact, we should be aiming to be queens: a woman who exudes effortless beauty inside and out.

[Tweet "We should be aiming to be queens: a woman who exudes effortless beauty inside and out."]

Society tells us that pregnancy ruins your body, when in fact, my minions have given me a better relationship with mine. Sure, I still have days when I feel like all kinds of yuck, or when my twenty-something girlfriend's incite envy with a series of #aboutlastnight posts, highlighting a scantily clad crew on a night out on the town.

Fortunately, along the way, I've learned that my daughters, family, and friends don't love me for how I look; they love me for the fun, loyal, respectful, and occasionally wise woman I've grown into over the years. Is that to say that I've given up on my fitness goals? Absolutely not! And I am by no means criticizing women who opt for plastic surgery, as every woman should decide what's right for them. But for now, knowing that there are people in my life who love me unconditionally, whether I'm rocking a size 6 or size 10 pair of jeans, is good enough for me!

Ruu Hawkins is a highly dependent coffee life-form, currently working towards her Master's in this thing called life. When she 's not perfecting her pen game, she's a single mother of two queens who prides herself on being a creative, curly mobbin', couture enthusiast! Chat with her on Twitter @ruubabie.

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In 2011 -- a year following my divorce, I met a young man who I felt could mend my heart.

He was tall, dark, handsome, well spoken and well liked -- everything a girl could dream of on paper. In the beginning there was light, a light of hope for a new love. But as time went by, the relationship spun into darkness. Whether it was the dish I cooked, shirt I picked out, or the way I answered him, it was as if nothing I did was good enough. In fact, his dissatisfaction only made me want to work harder and do more to please.

I recall times when he'd squeeze my wrist a little too hard in public as a warning, leaving bruises -- but it was my fault because I was fragile or bruised "easily." Or the time he dislocated my shoulder and I had to lie to my child because I didn't want her to worry. Each time letting him come back because he appeared to be remorseful and willing to change. But that was only the beginning.

In 2012, I faced an unplanned pregnancy. I had just lost my job and I was struggling to pay the rent. To top it off, the father of my child had given me an ultimatum (as he was "not ready" to be a father)... it was "him or the baby." So, as you can imagine, I was struggling with the decision of bringing a beautiful new babe into my chaotic world. After all, I was already a single mother with one divorce under my belt, living check to check -- now couch surfing, all the while awaiting the big day. I felt as if the weight of the world was sitting on my shoulders -- better yet, my chest!

Although I told my ex where he could put his ultimatum, he came back around to see our child's birth. And while my gut told me to "RUN" in the other direction, I took him back out of fear. Fear of what I thought would be failing yet another child. "You can't do this alone," he said. "You need me," he said. I believed him. For a few months, things appeared to be different. Until the pressure of fatherhood began to sink in. Then the drinking, cheating, lying, and abuse began to resurface.

Oddly enough, it took one fight (like so many before) to get me to LOOK UP. "You don't do sh*t for your kids," he said. "I don't even want to be here but now we have this baby." -- "I gave you an ultimatum but I'm still here. So why wouldn't you want to make it work?" he continued. As if he was doing me a favor.

Holding my baby close, I quickly scanned the room at the home I had built for "us." It was MY blood, sweat, and tears that went into making this home, I thought to myself. At that moment, I knew I'd be damned if I allowed this to continue. I would never want this for my daughters, so why am I endorsing it for myself?

As he proceeded to punch the wall, it was as if the three years preceeding the fight flashed before my eyes. I pictured myself laying on the ground in shock like years before... but this time, it was my child crying beside me. "He's got to go," I whispered to myself. With tears streaming down my face, my hands shaking, and my body quivering in fear, I opened the front door and with everything in me yelled, "GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!"

A few insults later, he managed to make it out the front door and I hit the floor... in prayer. I was ashamed. Not just because I saw this coming. But because I had been here too many times before. Although I am a different person today. There are still some days where I wish I could go back an avoid all of the pain.. much of which I am still working through today.

So, as part of the healing process, I've created a list of dating advice I'd give my younger self:

Fall in love with yourself first.

Don't spend your days in search of a partner to "complete" you. Discover what makes you SPIRITUALLY, emotionally, intellectually, and physically whole first and foremost. Then, when you do meet someone special, ask yourself, "Is this person adding or subtracting from my life" -- "Do they build me up or break me down?" I think Oprah said it best. Don't spend your life searching for the perfect person. Work to make yourself the perfect person for YOU, and then... only then, will "the right person be drawn to you based upon the work that you put out."

[Tweet "First, discover what makes you spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically whole."]

If someone tells you're they're not good for you, believe them and RUN.

You cannot save everyone! While mending the brokenhearted is practically embedded in your DNA, people are who they are. Some people are going to destroy themselves, no matter how much you try to "help" them. If someone says that they are "no good" for you, or "trouble," take that at face value and run the other way. Just because you are open and capable of love does not mean the one you "want" is ready for love. You will deplete yourself by trying to "heal" this person -- which in the end, will do you more harm than good.

Trust your intuition.

It's trying to protect you! Never stop sharing your love; that's why you were put on this Earth. But sometimes real love means saying goodbye. It takes much more courage to let something go than it does to hold tight -- or try to "fix" it. Letting go doesn't mean you're ignoring the situation. It simply means you're accepting what is, exactly as it is, without fear, opposition, or desire for control.

[Tweet "Trust your intuition. It's trying to protect you."]

Talk it out!

As difficult as this may be sometimes, do NOT keep your feelings bottled up! People are not mind readers. They should not have to jump through hoops to uncover when and how they have wronged you. Pass on the fit of tears over dinner at California Pizza Kitchen and open the floor to a grown-up discussion at an appropriate time in private. Learn how to separate the person from the issue. Be soft on the person but firm on the issue. If you want to find long-term relationship success, you're going to have to learn how to communicate.

Forgive yourself.

Life didn't come with instructions. You are not your mistakes. You are not your struggles. You are here NOW with the power to shape your tomorrow. Take all the time you need to heal. The key to breaking free from your broken self, is baby steps -- taking it one day at a time. Never let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life. Just because today is painful doesn't mean tomorrow won't be great. You WILL get there.

What advice would you give your younger self? Do share!

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