How Taking My Daughter for Walks Changed My Life

Self on 04.11.11
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Photo Credit: Katie Morton

Picture it: You show up to a party. The room is dim and a disco ball throws annoying splashes of festive color at the walls. You would rather be home in bed, but people have been telling you that you need to get out more. You see people socializing and having fun. You want to join them, but you are too hesitant to approach.

You feel unsure of your rusty conversation skills. You marvel at that one. You were never so keenly aware before that conversation required skill, let alone the whole possibility of a "rusty" factor. Your clothes are 24-hour clothes, meaning they involve a stretch fabric or perhaps a drawstring, and they can be worn day or night.

You can't recall the last time your body felt shower spray. Your hair has been falling out, and you didn't brush it today. You press your butt, your inflated butt, which doesn't even feel like it belongs to you --  it's someone else's butt, yet distinctly your butt -- you press that butt up against the wall so you can try to make yourself appear smaller in an effort to hide.

You are a wallflower. A smelly, fat wallflower. Such is the experience of some new moms showing up at the party of life.

Why Bother Leaving the House?

There are too many excuses a new mom can use to keep her inside. Forget about the fact she hasn't had a full night's sleep in over a year. It's also hard to mess with a baby's schedule by leaving the house. She doesn't want to expose her baby to colds and flu. And, of course, it's so very lovely to cocoon with that soft, adorable, unconditionally loving little baby who doesn't hate on your stretchy pants.

Why would you waste time with anybody else when you can spend every moment with your wee little smushie-wooshie cuddle bear cutie-patootie honey pants? There are quite a few reasons.

Having Friends Can Conquer Depression

There have been numerous studies conducted around the benefits of friendship, and the results show that social support offers advantages such as boosting brain health and beating cancer and depression, among other perks. Having a spouse or being close with family doesn't seem to offer the same benefits as having friends.

Think of all the ways spending time with friends makes you feel great that can't be quantified in a study: the means to blow off steam, exchange advice and information, and the feeling of happiness we get from gabbing and sharing camaraderie.

Who doesn't need a shot of happiness to kill those baby blues more than a new mother? New moms need friends now more than ever in their lives. Yet some are more reluctant than ever to put themselves out there.

How to Turn it Around

It's no wonder that some moms find motherhood to be nothing but a big isolation chamber. It's hard to get out there and make new friends or visit with old ones when you feel like your new incarnation isn't exactly a dazzling version of yourself. You think you should wait until you at least smell better, can fit into pants and can carry on a conversation.

I can't help you with showering .You must put on a brave face and step into the water on your own. However, I can tell you from experience that fitting into pants and holding up one end of a conversation can only happen after getting outside for some exercise and regular tête-à-tête with grocery store cashiers.

How I Escaped Isolation

Have you ever gone to a party with your cuter, more popular and wildly extroverted friend, not so you would feel lesser -- although that's a side effect of being her sidekick -- but so that she would introduce you to everyone and you could avoid feeling like a dork while approaching strangers?

I take my daughter for walks nearly every day facing outward in her Baby Bjorn carrier. She is the mayor of our little village. She greets everyone she sees with kicking feet, flailing arms, yelping and a squinty-eyed, wide-mouthed smile. She is obsessed with dogs, and we know many of the neighborhood dog owners and their pets by name.

One woman runs away from me every time she sees me. But Her Ladyship needs to greet her loyal subjects every day and gets fussy by 4PM if it hasn't happened yet, so I keep putting myself out there. I didn't realize at first that my butt was receding and my conversation skills were returning. My daughter's enthusiasm for people has me engaged in conversations with strangers most days of the week.

I Have a New Friend

Months ago, I was out for a stroll with Miss Thang when I ran into a husband and father walking his dogs. He told me about his baby daughter, who was only a few months older than mine. It turns out our daughters would be attending the same daycare.

I've since become friends with his wife. Like me, she is one of four children, has an October birthday and hails from the marvelous-yet-misunderstood Garden State. We mesh quite well on many levels and have no shortage of things to talk about. She also lives a stone's throw away from me. While our friendship is just burgeoning, it feels to me like this one's got legs.

The Future's So Bright

My inner rock star Roxy insists I take more pride in my appearance. I'm starting to build confidence again. I occasionally use an imaginary stylist to get dressed, and my imaginary stylist is a little outrageous. She sometimes makes me wear things that I wouldn't normally wear, like a dress to my monthly girls' night outing that was at risk for wardrobe malfunctions. She encourages Roxy to think that all publicity is good publicity. (Am I now harboring two imaginary friends? It's a slippery slope to Multiple Personality Town. )

This is a far cry from how I started out. I recall in the early days, when I first emerged from my cocoon with my wee little smushie-wooshie cuddle bear cutie-patootie honey pants. I stopped in to visit my hairdresser with my baby. I could tell my hairdresser, whom I had only just started seeing, was wondering why I was paying her a visit.

Words poured out of my mouth as I stood in my stretchy pants pointing at my daughter, saying, "She needed to see people, well who are we kidding I needed to see people hahahahahahahahahah okay I should go now." I turned around and sprinted out of the salon.

I've come so far now that "The Hairdresser Incident" seems forever ago. My transformation didn't happen over night; I was consistent about leaving the house almost daily for several months, but it worked. I can now hold down one end of a conversation like, well, like a normal human being, if I keep my imaginary friends to myself.

Katie Morton is the founder of The Monarch Company. Get a FREE copy of her eBook, 10 Steps to a Blissful You, to get started on developing extraordinary willpower for life.

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