On Being a Mother in Eating Disorder Recovery

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You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.
— Brené brown

In the throes of my eating disorder, I never imagined a life outside what it had become. My life became defined by this mental illness and consumed with body hatred and a chaotic relationship with food. Any hopes I had for recovery were diminished by the overwhelming power of eating disorder behaviors that drove me to a place of isolation and shame.  

If someone would have told me that I would go on to recover, heal and become a mother one day, I would have never believed it. Never could I have imagined that my broken body could grow and bring children into the world, let alone care for and raise them. But that is the power of recovery, and hope for change and healing can always be found, even in the bleakest of situations.

Motherhood in the Eating Disorder Journey

Being a mother in eating disorder recovery has brought unique challenges along the journey. My heart, mind, and body have been stretched in ways that I never thought possible; all the while, I have had a greater purpose than ever to fight for myself and my family.

In many ways, I have found that eating disorder recovery is a lot like parenting...Doing small things, day after day, with great care. Being diligent in perseverance, even when the feeling is not always there. For example, the love I have for my children is immeasurable, but there are many days where I do not always love parenting.

Parenting is downright hard, like fighting in the trenches on most days. However, I could not possibly hope to raise a thriving child if I decided to parent my children only when I “felt like it”. Parenting is committing to showing up - day after day, especially when the monotony becomes tedious, difficult, and overwhelming. That is the commitment that comes with loving children, and loving them well.

Parenting and Eating Disorder Recovery

The further along I got into my own eating disorder recovery, the more I realized how parallel this journey is to parenting. Cultivating self-love, compassion, and care toward myself are not luxuries but necessities to truly thriving - in motherhood and in life.

Sure, there will be days when I may not feel like doing the necessary things to maintaining recovery, but all the more reason why it is crucial to follow through in commitment to my eating disorder recovery.

It means fueling my body consistently with adequate nourishment. It means being compassionate toward myself and my body in the changing seasons of motherhood. It means recognizing when I need to rest or engage in soul-filling activities and mindfully choosing what is needed to fill up my cup and pour into the lives of my loved ones from a place of fullness. It means getting up each day and choosing gratitude, especially on the days when I feel like doing otherwise.

Recovery, like parenting, is not a process to be perfected. It is a journey of learning to adapt to disciplines of love for myself and my body: in how I eat, in how I rest, in my thoughts, words and actions. It is caring for myself in the same way that I mother and care for my own children, with great love. Love is action and taking steps of daily faith, regardless of feeling or circumstance.

If you are a mother in eating disorder recovery, know that you are not alone on this journey. This is a process of healing and restoration. You deserve compassionate encouragement each and every step of the way.