"Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
How many of us were told this as a kid? How many of us said it?
I know now that words do matter. And they can definitely hurt. They even have the power to shape us into who we are today.
For the longest time, I told myself I just wasn’t cut out to be a mom. I told myself I didn’t have any of the “motherly instincts” everyone always talks about.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I started telling myself this; it just became my identity. It could've been from not being called back again after my first babysitting gig in junior high school. It could've started after I failed my home economics project freshman year that involved a computerized baby doll.
However, it's when I started dating someone with a daughter that really sealed my belief that I wasn't cut out to be a mom.
Every day I felt like I had to cautiously tiptoe around her. I didn't want to say the wrong thing or overstep my boundaries. I didn't want to hear the dreaded, “You’re not my real mom.” I even learned later that some family members were disappointed in my parenting approach and relationship with her.
At that point, my self-confidence in seeing myself as a mom was down in the dumps. So many things — including the things I had said to myself — made me believe I wasn’t mean to be a mom; that I wouldn't be a good mom. I believed others when they said they didn’t see me as the motherly type.
But here's the thing. We can choose, at any point in time, to release those self-limiting beliefs and tell ourselves new stories. We can be our own biggest fan!
I don't know when I started to rewrite these stories I had told myself. Maybe it was the first time my stepdaughter told me she loved me. Perhaps it was when my husband and I bought our first home, making sure it had plenty of room for our family to grow.
But I know for a fact that the turning point was when I saw those two lines on my pregnancy test revealing that I was expecting. Everything I had been told — or had told myself — about being a mom needed to change. Deep down inside I knew those stories weren't true.
So I started changing how I thought of myself, and I wore those new thoughts like a plate of armor against anyone who said otherwise.
Today, I am a mom to my 11-year old step-daughter and 2-year-old son. I have fallen into the rhythm of mom life. I enjoy having girl talk moments with my step-daughter while we bake cookies together. I love playing with my son while I watch him learn and grow before my eyes. I can now plan out and color code our family calendar and activities with project-management-level precision.
Once I allowed myself to believe I was meant to be a mom — and that I was a good mom — it all started to come easy to me. Now I own the words "mom," "mama bear" and "cool stepmom." I wear them like a badge with honor.
Words matter. They have the power to hurt us, but they also have the power to inspire us. Take a moment to think about the stories you've been telling yourself. If they are not your truth, then rewrite them. Be the hero of your own story.
After all, our words become our reality.
Haley Rogers is a professional organizer and women’s life coach. She uses her personal experiences of decluttering along with her Type A and structured personality to help others simplify their homes and lives. She often taps into her professional experience of advising and project management to keep her clients motivated and on track. Find more about Haley here.