I had spent the last ten years of my life traveling the world as a model and only having me to worry about. I knew exactly what to do the minute I was confirmed for the job. Whether it involved international travel, multiple days of work, foreign languages, or just a quick drive down the road. Whatever my agencies threw my way I KNEW I could handle it.
So when I found out I was pregnant with my now six-year old son, I was so excited. I was engaged to my husband when we found out about Ramsee. It was such an exciting moment. Over the next several months, my life took a turn for the unknown.
I embraced the mentality that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to eat and do whatever I wanted. I had spent so many years maintaining my size and sacrificing cravings that for once, I wasn’t going to deny myself anything. And I didn’t. I put on 80 pounds that pregnancy.
I got married one month before my son was born so I became a wife and mother simultaneously. Talk about identity crisis. After the pregnancy was over the reality of life hit me. I had 80 pounds of weight that I needed to lose in order to get back down to where my clients recognized me. I had this little baby that I had no idea what to do with; I had an instant family. With my husband came an eight-year old stepson.
I managed to find a great neighbor who said they would travel with me for work so that Ramsee could travel with me. This worked for a little while until my son ran his head into a metal door frame while learning to walk. Rude awakening. Photo studios are no place for a small child. Now what? If I couldn’t work, then what do I do? That’s all I knew myself to be.
Over the next few years, I had to learn how to be a mom, model, and wife. Not necessarily in that order. It was a struggle. In all of that confusion, I was so focused on my husband and my son, I had totally forgotten about me! It’s amazing how you can forget something so quickly when something more powerful is introduced.
I remember having fights with my husband because I felt I wasn’t being a good wife. Sure, I would cook, clean, or do laundry but I had somehow forgotten how to be me–sexy, energetic, and happy, and it was affecting my mental state. We weren’t intimate enough. We didn’t go out enough. I didn’t make him feel special enough. All of these thoughts were my own that I somehow manifested as being from my husband, which just created a huge void and conflict in our relationship. A year after my son was born, we moved to Italy with the Navy.
I was also confused about how I was supposed to act as a mom. Was I allowed to show cleavage anymore? What about legs–could I show my legs? Did I have to get mommy jeans now? Probably when my son was two, and I was considering having a second child, is when I finally got the hang of it. I learned how to juggle my time more. I was exercising and joined my very first bible study group, which brought me out of the mommy shell I had been in. I think the biggest turning point was when Rebecca, one of the board members, actually recognized me from photos etc. and was a fan. She has asked me if I would be a special guest speaker at their women’s retreat coming up in a few months. My topic was going to focus on makeovers and teaching the women of the group how to do their hair and makeup as well as dressing for their body shapes. That one simple gesture of her having faith in me started me on the journey to where I am today.
I had so much fun reaching into my bag of tricks that I had collected over the many years of plus modeling and working with leading hair/makeup artists and stylists. I headed over to the Navy Exchange, and made over three women with three different body shapes for the retreat. I had another spouse who was an artist sketch three body shapes: Hourglass, Pear, and Apple and we had three women totally jump outside their box of comfort to model nude for the sketches! For the makeover session we photographed the before and after shots and then turned it all into a slide presentation to show at the retreat. It was all I needed to snap out of my identity funk and remember all the wonderful things that made me unique.
To this day, I still participate in makeovers. I work with women of all ages, shapes, and sizes and teach them how to be their unique selves and how to embrace what makes them beautiful. Just when I thought I had it all figured out and was juggling my career and parenting beautifully, my husband sprung on me some fantastic news. He was deploying for 6.5 months and I was going to be a single parent. That is another story……
*My next article will be a follow-up with concrete ideas on how a mom can start the road back to themselves.