I remember the day vividly. I was a new mom to a screaming baby. I knew babies cried, but not like this. I was convinced I was the worst mother on the planet because I couldn’t get her to calm down. Or eat. Or sleep. All she wanted to do was cry. In a moment of desperation I locked myself in the bathroom. Turned on the shower. And looked at the stranger in the mirror staring back at me. I didn’t recognize the face with giant bags under the eyes. Hair that hadn’t been brushed in many days. And a body that no longer felt like my own. I didn’t feel like Brianna anymore. A woman anymore. A wife. I only felt like a disgusting, sleep deprived blob who had no clue what she was doing. And so, I sobbed leaning up against the wall wondering what I had gotten myself into. And where my old self had gone.
I didn’t tell anyone about that day for a really long time. Years to be honest. Because I felt guilty. That mom guilt that you read about in the parenting books, it happens. It’s vicious. And can make you feel like you’re the worst thing that has ever happened to the world. I had once been a happy-go-lucky, laid back girl. Then a hopeless-romantic, passionate wife. Then a confident, powerful business woman. I never expected that when I became a mom I would stop feeling all of those things, watching them disappear right in front of my eyes. But I did. And that caused even more guilt.
I felt this way for a very long time. I felt more comfortable in sweat pants and a hair elastic than in a little black dress and heels. Because honestly, that’s what I thought was normal when you become a mom. All the tv shows and movies out there told me so. That was my new role….being sexy wasn’t anymore. I knew my husband found me beautiful. He told me every single day. But I didn’t believe it myself anymore. That’s not what I saw when I looked in the mirror.
It wasn’t until many years later, and my kids being a little bit older, that I actually talked about this. Women would come into our studio for boudoir sessions and talk about these similar feelings and I would nod my head. Smile. And genuinely relate with them. But was way too scared to say that I felt the same way. Because, mommy guilt : that shit is real! And powerful. And not something I thought I could talk about. Until the day another mom sat there in the studio with me and said, “Why can’t all moms just talk about it like it’s normal. We all feel this way, right”? As she sat there looking at me with pleading eyes, I felt the words coming out of my mouth before I had even processed that I was going to say anything. “I feel it too”, I said. And I instantly wanted to reach out into the air and snatch the words back before she could hear them, stuff them in my pocket and run away. But instead we sat there and talked. Shared. Related. Understood each other. And I realized that I wasn’t alone. None of us are.
Even still it took me awhile to get in front of the camera for my own boudoir session. Years actually. I think I was afraid of what I was going to discover about myself. It had taken me so long to start to feel like a woman and a wife alongside my role as a mother, not to mention also being a friend, a sister and a daughter. And understand that they were all equally important jobs. I was afraid to fully understand that becoming one didn’t erase being another. Because again, mommy guilt. Whoever came up with that term was pretty fucking bang on.
And so I promised myself (and Ewan) that I would do it. For our 10th anniversary I would get in front of the camera again for the first time since 2004. I chose this date because it gave me a lot of time to work up the courage. And enough time to back out if I decided I’d rather join the circus than take my clothes off. I promised that I would embrace all of my roles. I would show myself, and other mothers, that just because you become a mom doesn’t mean that you’re no longer sexy. Or beautiful. Or in touch with your sexuality. None of these things are taken away by adding a new role. Instead, they’re all intertwined. And they all matter. They all make me exactly who I am. And while maybe I’m still trying to figure out exactly who I am, I am at least taking a step in the right direction. And know I’ll get there some day.
- Brianna (photos by Ewan)