I’ve always been incredibly hard on myself.
With an internal monologue something along the lines of: “You look like shit today” or “you idiot” or “you suck at that stuff”.
It’s like reporting to a boss who is never satisfied with your best efforts.
But then I fell pregnant and that inner voice dramatically changed.
There was no self-help book or therapy sessions, I just made a conscious decision to be kind to myself because there was a baby growing inside me.
I had this odd idea that my son, who I nicknamed Pedro, could hear my thoughts – or at least understand the general vibe of being me. I had no choice but to make my internal soundtrack happier.
It still blows my mind that humans create other humans and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be allowed to do that myself. Little old me was growing a human.
Making my body a positive and inhabitable place for Pedro was my very first parental responsibility. This was serious.
Pedro sucks his thumb. Image supplied.
I ended up with a dream pregnancy, I was fat and happy and super nice to myself because I had a little baby friend that came everywhere with me, every day.
Pedro made me see my inner world afresh.
After nine months of having positive and encouraging conversations with myself, I gave birth to some healthy self-acceptance as well as a bouncing baby boy.
My journey into motherhood was profound because of it. I gave birth to a son and a brand new relationship with myself.
My heart was open and for the first time in my adult life I was truly content.
Charlie, a few days old, babbles with his Grandmother. Post continues after video.
It's somewhat ironic that my conception was almost unwelcome - not from my parents or family - but it was a stressful situation.
I was born to a teenage mother after a shotgun wedding in the midst of Catholic small-town drama and because of this, I waited a long long time until I planned to have a baby.
Up until my mid-thirties I was terrified of motherhood, it looked to me like a life with no freedom and a lot of hard work. My mum had been raising children for decades and had never had a chance to have her own life.
Listen to This Glorious Mess, the podcast for imperfect parents. Post continues below.
My mother had to endure a good dose 1970s disapproval well into the '80s - even though she gave up adult emancipation to become a responsible parent.
When she fell pregnant at 16, she had to stop doing bombs at the pool and when I fell pregnant at 36, I got an excellent maternity-leave package.
By the time I fell pregnant I'd "had a life". I'd travelled, I'd lived overseas for nearly a decade, I had a great job, I was engaged to be married to a man I loved. I was ready.
In the last days of my pregnancy in London. Image supplied.
At 36, just when Pedro was making my body very uncomfortable, I finally became comfortable with who I was in the world. Falling pregnant and having a baby helped me change the way I saw myself.
Now my two-year-old Charlie is building his own internal world and I hope I can help to instill a kind and loving internal monologue of his own.
Even if it is my actual voice saying how loved he is.