A new mom crush post is long OVER DUE! First let me say that picking a mom crush is not something I take lightly. I like to find women who have a story to share and whom I feel we can all learn something from. This week’s mom crush, Rachel Edgel, will not disappoint! When Rachel shared this post on Instagram a few months ago I knew she HAD to be our next Mom Crush!
This strong mama of 5 is tough as nails and ironically the sister to one of our previous crushes, Rebecca Berkabile! I think the outer, and most importantly, inner beauty of these women runs in the family! Rachel’s post today will have you laughing, crying, and laughing all over again! If you need a little inspiration on this typical Monday, you’ve come to the right place!
First tell us a little bit about you.
Rachel: I’m 32, born and raised in Las Vegas with my four siblings. We’re all old and grown up with our own children now, and I relocated to the Boise, ID area (Middleton) with my husband, Jacob, and our 5 kids in May of 2016 for my husband’s work. We LOVE living here even though it’s torture to be away from my sister and the rest of our family that are pretty much all in Vegas. We survived our first winter here which just so happened to be uncharacteristically freezing and snowy. And we managed to enjoy most of it. I am a photographer when I get the chance to be, which isn’t often these days since I’m first a mom that stays home and takes care of 5 little taskmasters all day. I love British television shows, doing my makeup, crying through This Is Us, and spending weekends snuggling on the couch with my husband and kids. I love ice – it is my favorite food, and I know all the good places to get good quality chewing ice. And cleaning makes me sad.
We know you went through a divorce with two young children. Share with us what that was like being a single mom and taking care of two young kids on your own.
Rachel: It’s funny how long ago that all feels now, which, ironically, is something I was certain I would never say. On my list of difficult things that I’ve been through, my divorce is most certainly near the top. I had a 2-year-old and was 5 months pregnant with my second little boy when my ex-husband and I separated. My marriage kind of fell apart rapidly the last few months that we were together, and I was pregnant and emotional, so you can only imagine that I cried a lot. I moved in with my sister and her husband, and I spent a lot of nights crying on her shoulder with her crying too because she was also pregnant. Bless her poor husband, there was a lot of crying going on in that house for a few months. Right before the baby was born, I moved in with my parents. I know I was a single mom, but I didn’t ever have to do anything on my own. Not all single moms have the support and love that I did. I think the hardest thing about the situation was just worrying about my boys and how being the victims of a divorce would affect them. I was most afraid that they would be severely deprived of love and wholeness and emotional stability and they would grow up to be completely miserable. I prayed a lot. I prayed my way through that divorce, prayed for my children, and today, 8 years later, they are happy, healthy, normal boys that are as emotionally stable as any other child.
If you could talk to your newly single mother self now (go back in time) what would you say?
Rachel: I’ve learned that life is never as bad as it seems, and that if it is bad, it’s not going to stay that way. It’s only temporary. It’s going to get better, and that sunshine is going to break through the clouds. Everything is really going to be okay. I would tell me that it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t because I wasn’t pretty enough or skinny enough or good enough. It had nothing to do with me not being enough. I would tell me that my worth doesn’t depend on what anyone else thinks of me, not even my husband. I would tell me to stop thinking so negatively about myself or worrying that my life was too broken or that my children were ruined forever. I would tell myself that in just a few short months, I would be thanking God that He didn’t fix my marriage like I begged Him to, because better things were in the works. And I would most certainly tell myself that these hard times I was going through were going to mold me and shape me into a better version of myself later down the road. Those were some hard times for sure, but I can’t ever look back on them without being completely grateful for them now.
Can you share with us how you met your husband?
Rachel: Now we’re getting to the good stuff. I hope you can feel me smiling as you read this because I’m smiling as I type. Our 7-year anniversary was February 27th. We’ve outlasted my first marriage by 3 years now. When I went through my divorce, I had to take a class (my ex had to as well) before the divorce would be granted since there were children involved in the divorce. I’m in the class with a bunch of other people that are filing for divorces, all of us in some degree bitter and cynical towards marriage, I imagine, and the instructor gives us a statistic that second marriages are 50% more likely to fail than first marriages. Way to kick a man when he’s down, right? Thanks for that beacon of light in my day. After hearing that, I was sure I was going to be an old spinster for the rest of my life because I was not going to go through another divorce.
After my divorce was final, my brother-in-law set me up or tried to set me up with a couple people, Jacob being one of them. He knew Jacob from church, and he was friends with him. But Jacob was balding. And I had a rule that I wasn’t going to date anyone that was balding, so I said no thanks. I started going to a singles ward, and Jacob happened to be in the ward, and he was just one of the many fellas lining up to date me. Not really, nobody wanted to date me because I had two kids. At the same time, some of our mutual friends in the ward were encouraging Jacob to date me, and he was like, “You’re crazy, she’s got kids.” Eventually, our paths crossed enough through our mutual friends that we became friends. He was so much fun. I loved hanging out with him. I loved his witty and sarcastic sense of humor. He became one of my favorite people to be around, and I’m not sure how it happened, but we just developed a thing. He started wanting me for my body and my children, I guess. Our first real date as more than friends was December 6, 2009, and we were married February 27, 2010.
Was it hard for you to make the decision to have more kids once you remarried?
Rachel: Jacob and I both knew we wanted more children. We just didn’t want them right away. We didn’t have the normal date/get married/have kids relationship. It was never just the two of us, so we wanted some time to adjust to him having an instant family. He naturally loved the boys like they were his own, so adding more to our family just felt like the normal thing to do.
Can you share your experience with postpartum depression? At what point did you realize it was a real thing happening to you and how did you overcome it?
Rachel: I mentioned that my divorce was up there towards the top of my list of hard things I’ve been through, but my postpartum anxiety and depression are definitely number one on that list. After I brought my first baby home, a few days later the reality of it just hit me. At first, it was so wonderful and I could dress him up and he was my baby. But after sleep deprivation and nursing troubles and body soreness kicked in, mixed with the postpartum hormones going crazy, the difficulty of it all came at me in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. I started getting severe anxiety and panic attacks just days after my first was born, and that continued almost relentlessly for an entire year. I didn’t really tell anybody about it. I hid it from my ex as much as I could, and except for my mom, nobody knew the hell I was going through. It was torture. It was the worst with my first child, I think, because I just expected rainbows and sunshine and unicorns. I was going to dress him up in cute clothes and show him to people. I had no idea that I would experience such intense unpleasant emotions, so I had a major amount of guilt and shame. I’m a bad mom for feeling like this. Something is wrong with me, I’m crazy. I don’t deserve to be a mother. If people knew how I was feeling they wouldn’t be my friend. My husband will leave me. Nobody else has ever felt like this. I’m such a bad person. And the list went on and on.
I finally met with a counselor after months of anguish, and she recommended I try some medication, which I HATED the idea of, but I was out of options and wanted to be me again. That stuff was heaven-sent. I was back to myself, feeling happy and enjoying life again, enjoying my baby, in just a few short months.
I wish I wouldn’t have been so ashamed. I wish I would have tried medication sooner, instead of a year later. I wish that women around me that had suffered had opened up about it so that I didn’t feel so alone and so unfit to be a mother. I’ve dealt with post-partum anxiety and depression with the rest of my babies, but I’ve gotten on medication or upped my dose each time so that I wouldn’t have to suffer like I did the first time. It was still extremely difficult every baby. But as time went on I started hearing so many women talk about it – my friends even – and I realized how much we as women hide our struggles because we assume that everyone else has it together. And we don’t want to feel inadequate. I’ve learned to just put things out there. I am honest and real with my struggles, even when it makes me uncomfortable and vulnerable, because I never know who it might help. I want women to know that they aren’t alone. Other women have cried those tears too. I’m not ashamed of it anymore. These struggles have made me more compassionate, more forgiving, more willing to reach out and be a friend to other women and not judge.
What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being a mother?
Rachel: All of it. All of it is so hard. But it’s so good. It’s like the best and the worst simultaneously. Because you love your children so much, and you want them to be happy and grow up to be good people. But they fight so much. They never stop fighting, and you don’t know whose side to take. “Stop looking at your brother!” But then you realize that that’s absurd, so you yell, “Who cares if your brother is looking at you?!” It’s like a civil war all the time within your own walls because someone is looking at someone else, and someone didn’t like it. I just want them to stop fighting. I also think it’s difficult to always be the one that is needed. Sometimes I just want time for me, time to chill and relax and veg out, but I’m at a stage in my life where I am constantly needed. I remember sitting in my bathroom one day, just sobbing, “Everybody needs me. Even the dog needs me.” Sometimes I just feel stretched so thin, and that’s even with a helpful husband. Just getting everybody to bed each night, I feel like I deserve a medal. Being selfless is a difficult thing to do, and motherhood demands selflessness of you. If I don’t come out of this a good person, then there’s no hope for me.
You recently shared on FB that you’ve finally found contentment after 32 years of living and that you’re happier than you’ve ever been despite being chubbier than you’ve ever been. Can you explain this new you to us and share how you found self-love and happiness, because we all want it too!
Rachel: I have struggled with self-worth and loving myself as I am for so. many. years. I know I’m not alone in that. It’s a common endemic among women in general, that feeling of never being enough. I thought it would go away once I got married and became a mother, but I feel like it almost got worse. Then I compared myself to other wives and other mothers, skinnier wives, super-productive mothers, moms who got their pre-baby bodies back fast, moms that didn’t have postpartum anxiety/depression, and my feelings of inadequacy just magnified. Comparison robbed me of my joy for so many years.
I’m sure you’ve seen that quote circulating around social media – “I just want to be as fat as the first time I thought I was fat.” And that’s the truth of it. When I was 116 lbs, I always felt insecure and frumpy in my body. It never looked good to me. It was never good enough. Then I started having babies, and though I lost the weight with my first, I never really lost it with the rest of them. I’ve always felt chubby, whether I was or not.
So how did I stop comparing and find contentment with myself? I realized that I have to be happy with me TODAY. I have to be happy with who I am RIGHT NOW. If you aren’t happy now it will always be this elusive concept you’re chasing after. You have to choose to be happy in a lot of situations in life, or they will swallow you whole. Being happy with you is the perfect place to start. Once I realized that I wanted to be happy with myself – that it wasn’t skinniness or being like someone else that I wanted – I started replacing the negative thoughts about myself with something positive I liked about myself. I practiced devotedly getting those negative thoughts out and replacing them with a truer more positive thought, and I found that eventually I believed the positive thoughts, and the negative ones stopped popping up. Right now, I’m chubby. But I’m working out, trying to eat healthy and get my macros in, so I give myself credit for those things. If the negative thoughts come, such as “Ugh, you are so fat,” I replace it with a true more positive thought: “You might not be at your ideal weight, but you are putting in the effort and taking care of yourself, and that’s a really good thing.” Or maybe I find myself saying, “Liz has a great body, and she had 6 kids. You should have a great body.” Then I say something to myself like, “Liz does have a great body, and she works hard for it. But is that what you like about Liz or do you like her for her just like people like you for you?” It sounds trivial, just reconstructing my thoughts, but it has played an integral part in learning to love myself. I use these skills every single day, and I’m amazed at how much less frequently the negative thoughts come up. I’ve surprised myself with how positive I’ve become not just about myself but about life in general since I started implementing these positive self-talk techniques in my daily life.
We know you are happy in the body you have, but we can’t help but get excited to find out you’ve been macro counting! What has your experience been like?
Rachel: I don’t want to give the idea that since I’m happy with who I am that there’s no room for self-improvement. Complacency isn’t self-love either. I am all for being fit and healthy and taking care of myself, just not with the intent of using my body image to determine my value or worth as a person. I think something that often gets overlooked when it comes to fitness is that mental and emotional fitness go hand in hand with physical fitness. We are not just bodies. We are bodies, minds, and spirits, and each one of those components needs proper nourishment and attention. I don’t believe you can be “fit” if one of those areas is neglected. There are some crazy fitness and health extremes out there that cannot possibly be good for a person’s mentality. You might look good in a bikini, but you shouldn’t be afraid to eat. You shouldn’t think that you have to live in the gym. You shouldn’t be afraid to live, you know? I started counting macros because I felt like it was a balance between healthy eating and living a normal life where you eat food that you like because it tastes good and makes you happy. I love counting macros. I eat more, I feel satisfied, I’m getting healthy foods in, but then I can still eat the same tacos I made everyone else for dinner. It really helps you to not be afraid of food – you just learn to work the numbers right so that you feed your body what it needs and your mouth what it enjoys (within reasonable limits, of course). I have nothing but good things to say about counting macros. I’m not by any means perfect at it or hitting my numbers every single day without fail (I do have 5 children who need me a lot), but it’s definitely a long-term way of eating for me.
Get here gorgeous look here!
HAC with Rachel, Mascara Beauty Artist Facebook Page
If you know any inspiring momma’s in the Las Vegas Area who you think would make a great mom crush let us know in the comments below.
Follow us on Pinterest for more great recipe suggestions! We love seeing Stay Fit Mom recipes in your kitchen! Post your meals to Instagram and be sure to tag @stayfitmom_Krista and @stayfitmom_Tracy!