I saw a meme the other day that said, “Motherhood is an extreme sport. That’s why we have to wear workout clothes everyday.” It’s a tad cliché, but when I think about how motherhood has changed me, one of the first things that comes to mind is my wardrobe.

When I was in college, I had a carefully curated wardrobe full of cute outfits. Now, 11 years and two kids later, my wardrobe has drastically changed.

Since I’m a stay-at-home-mom, I wear mostly “athleisure.” If you haven’t heard that term, don’t worry. I’m pretty sure it was made up by women who want to make workout clothes feel fancier than they really are.

And when I’m not wearing workout clothes, I wear a lot of stretchy jeans and loose fitting black shirts. Because black is slimming, right? And this girl needs slimming. Because motherhood has definitely changed my body.

How motherhood changed my body

I have never had six-pack abs, but I danced for the first 10 years of my life before I began playing sports. I played field hockey, cheered, and ran track all through high school. Decades later, motherhood added even more rolls and jiggle on top of the freshman 30 I gained in college.

My body carried two babies—growing limbs, organs, and entire personalities. My body fed those two babies for six months after each was born.

My body has become a jungle gym, a safe shelter, and a sea monster, chasing and catching my kids while throwing them into a fit of giggles. It has become strong enough to carry around two little boys when they’re tired, strong enough to protect them from scary thunder and bad dreams.

My body has become something I don’t aim to keep healthy in order to look good, but in order to keep up with two little Energizer Bunnies. To make sure I’m around for to see them grow up, become adults, and have families of their own.

Where I used to view my body as something that needed to look fit and trim for the sake of looking good, I now view it as powerful and able for the sake of my children.

My body is no longer only about me. It’s about my future and my kids’ futures. My love for them drives my view of my body.

How motherhood has changed my view of myself

To be honest, I spent most of my 20s trying to be someone I wasn’t. I wanted to be the sporty girl, the preppy girl, the lovable nerd, you name it. I was a chameleon. I had no idea who I was or how God created me uniquely. I saw everyone else and wished I could be who they were.

I was like Julia Roberts’ character in the movie Runaway Bride. Her favorite type of eggs were dependent upon how her current boyfriend liked his eggs. Finally single and ready to discover who she was, she sat down and tried multiple types of eggs. She realized eggs Benedict were her favorite. (Can’t argue with that Julia, eggs Benedict are delicious!)

For me, it wasn’t eggs that forced me into self-discovery. It was marriage, motherhood, depression, and entering my 30s.

When a mentor and others spoke into my life, I realized that who I was, uniquely me, was special and good. I didn’t have to be someone else. I was me, and God created me that way for a reason.

As a mom, I no longer had the time and effort to try to be someone else. I guess you could say I had a slight, quarter-life crisis. But in truth, it was God knocking on the door of my life telling me He wanted me to stop striving and start thriving in who I was. It would make me a better mother, wife, friend, and person.

And it definitely did!

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How motherhood changed my view of others

I stopped judging and started empathizing. I stopped talking and started listening. To the Lord. To others. To myself. And what I found was that everyone is unique, and that’s what makes us special.

I don’t homeschool my preschooler like my friend Beth. I don’t work as much as my friend Erin. I could never be a third-grade teacher like my friend Tammy. I don’t know if I could handle three kids like my sister-in-law Annie. And you know what? That’s OK. None of our situations are wrong. They’re just different.

And different is OK. Different is what brings fun and color and excitement to life. If we were all the same, we would live in a boring world. Different makes us see Jesus. We are all created in His image, and when you think about how different we all are, that’s pretty amazing that we ALL mirror His image.

How motherhood HASN’T changed me

And that brings me to how motherhood HASN’T changed me. At my core, I am still the same Jenn I was before I became a mother. I still love to read, hate to clean, and encourage others well. I still love chick flicks, hate watching golf, and live on coffee.

I am still the girl whose identity needs to be found in Christ in order to live a life glorifying to God. I am still a daughter of the King FIRST. Then I am a wife, mother, friend, encourager. I still need Jesus.

No matter what stage of life I’m in, that is one thing that will never change. My need for Jesus. I need to love Him first, or nothing else in my life will make sense. With Him, I can move mountains, influence others to know Him, love my husband and my children well. Without Him, my whole world will fall apart.

Cellulite, stretch marks, and cranky babies may come and go, but my best life will always be one with Jesus in the driver’s seat. And thank goodness for that, because this exhausted mom loves a good road-trip nap!

Copyright © 2019 Jenn Grandlienard. All rights reserved.

Jenn Grandlienard grew up an East Coast Philly girl. But now loves calling the Midwest her home. She lives in Xenia, Ohio with her husband, Stuart, two sons, Knox and Zeke, and pup, Stella. Jenn and her husband work with Athletes in Action, a ministry of Cru that teaches college athletes what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. Check out her blog OurGrandLife.com. Find her on Instagram at @mrsjenngrand and on Facebook.