Posted on | July 23, 2014 | 2 Comments
I’m a worrier by nature and by nurture, spending much of my quiet time running through disaster scenarios in my head and wondering if I’ve done enough to prepare for the zombie apocalypse. Okay, not really on the zombie bit, but I do worry about a lot of things. A LOT of things. And though it’s ingrained in my nature, I try to keep it at bay with a little blue pill and a reminder to myself that what will be, will be… regardless of whether I think about it beforehand.
It doesn’t always work, but I try. Most of the time if I’m pushing down the worry, it gets replaced with complacency… a steady roar of boredom spiced slightly with the disdain of how far I’ve traveled from the person I thought I would be.
Since December of 2008, the majority of my worries have centered around the growing person inside or outside of me. I’ve worried about his scrapes and bruises, his words and emotions, and worried probably most of all about the effect my worrying might have on him. Sometimes I worry that I overcompensate for worrying by acting as though I’m not worried at all which … of course… worries me. I’m like a viciously worn set of rosary beads in the hands of a semi-sane Sister.
See, my son was blessed and cursed with a soul that doesn’t just exist… it FEELS its existence. He is up and down and all over the place the way I must have been as a child… the way I am as an adult. And every time I hear him talk to the television screen and say ‘Why is that coyote doing that? That’s not very safe, is it?” I wonder what I’m raising him to be. I wonder who I’m raising him to be. I wonder if I’m raising him to be, well, me. Shell-shocked and subdued from the roller-coaster youth I once was. I once felt my existence the way he does… drinking in the sun with the understanding that only children seem to have that every. day. is precious. Every day should mean something more than just another day.
Most days now, I’m so bogged down with the legal lined pages of our lives that I don’t pay attention to what comes next. Most days I just want to survive from sun up to sun down without losing my patience at the house or dog or child or career. Most days, I’m just… moving through it all. So when I finally do stop and survey the life we’re living, it terrifies me. I find myself in a cold sweat, wondering how on earth we got here and where on earth we will go next.
Because this isn’t really living, is it? This worrying constantly… this spinning and spiraling through dirty laundry and dirty dishes and dirty floors. It’s not life, the way it should be lived… or is it? Because maybe that’s my greatest worry… that somehow this is all there is. This get up, go full speed, lie down, repeat… this is all there is to the minutes and hours and days of our lives. I don’t want my son to survive… I want him to thrive. I want him to spread his arms wide and embrace every second of every day.
The way his mother does not. Anymore.
The way his mother can not. Anymore.
Because my life is here, boxed into the corner I call home, wading through the whine and whimsy of other people’s lives. My life is here, dipped and displayed amongst the books and diplomas and yes, the debt.
But maybe I can be different. Maybe today will be the day I put aside the worry about the money and embrace the dreams I once tended with love and ferocity. Maybe today I can set aside what people say is right… push it down into this box of a life and tape it closed with the sticky threads of my worries.
Maybe today I can watch my son, learn from his carefree abandon, embrace his wide-eyed wonder at the miracle that is the sun rising another day. Maybe today, I can remember how it feels to really live.
Posted on | July 17, 2014 | 3 Comments
As the days creep and whirl past, I watch him grow inch by inch and foot by foot. Sometimes he blows me away with his sheer bigness… his ability to not be in a crib, to not be in diapers, to not be lying on his back kicking his feet and cooing at the flash of colors or the whirr of the fan. Some days it is the opposite and I find myself basking in the reminders of his smallness… the dimples beneath his fingers and the lisp in his words. Some days I am too busy to be either, chasing him here and there, trying to catch up to the little boy who is my heart on legs. Some days I long for those moments of clicking him safely in the car seat, or high chair, or stroller… knowing with the click and pull of straps that he was secure and safe.
When you have a baby, you don’t… you can’t understand what they will do to your heart. You can’t process the tug and pull and ache of being both near and far from them. I think back to the days when I would rest my hand on my stomach, feeling the pulse of life beneath my palm and truly knowing he was safe and close and watched over. Now, he is his own person, his own rough and tumble boy and there is no bubble wrap strong enough to protect either of us from his rowdy embrace of the world.
I’ve watched him grow so very much in the past five years; from the click of his smallness in a rear-facing car seat to the click of his toddler wriggle into a running stroller. I’ve held him in the safety of my arms through so very much. And with each day that passes, I’m all too aware that my days of holding him in my arms are fading. I’m all too aware that each time I let him down by being human more than the all-powerful mom he believes me to be I am pushing him farther out into the world where others will step in and wrap their thoughts and words and arms around my son. As they should. Theirs will be the more accessible, the more acceptable arms and smiles as he grows.
So I try to busy myself with steadying the foundation of the home around me, the base of our lives together thus far, building and reinforcing the warmth of this safety net I want him to know is always there. I let him run and play and be the boy he is designed to be, knowing that each day draws him further from this nest I have created for the two of us. But when I pick him up from school each day, my eyes drift up to watch in the rear view mirror as he pulls his seat belt on and clicks it with precision. Gone are the days when he needed me to fasten his pants or shoes or seat belt. Gone are the days when he needed me to lift him up into the car or tuck him safe into his seat. Yet as it was when he was small, it is still that metallic click of his seat belt that lets me know he is safe… he is home, again. And I know that from the moment he was born until the moment I take my last breath on this earth, I will always be waiting for the familiar click of metal that says he is safe. No matter where he is.
Posted on | July 16, 2014 | 2 Comments
Before J became mobile, I didn’t really realize how good I had it. Yes, I was sleep deprived. Yes, there was a lot of poop and a ton of spit up. Yes there were LOTS of tears. From both of us. But there was also this unspoken understanding that I could put his tiny self down in a crib and walk away. Just for a moment. Just for how ever long I needed to clear my head.
Once he started moving, all of that changed. And now when I look at my life with an almost five year old, there are so many MANY things I will never take for granted again.
1. Peaceful showers. When he was a baby I complained about showers. You know, “I never get to bathe!’ and all that stuff that new moms go through because we’re too scared to put the baby down for ten minutes to clean ourselves. But now, showers are an entirely different experience. Long gone are the days of sweet relaxation while hot water pounds your flesh. Long departed are the moments of aromatherapy and steam. Now, what I have is a rush to the bathroom, a slinging off of my clothes and a prayer that I get half a minute before it begins. And by “it” I mean the noises.
There are loud crashes that send you, towel wrapped and dripping wet into the living room, only to find that your child has stacked all his toys on top of each other and is using a soccer ball to sling at them in a rousing and awkward game of “Duck, Duck, no seriously DUCK!”
There are blood curdling screams of “MOM!” that make you jump out of your skin for fear that a kidnapper has begun the abduction process, run naked from the bathroom only to be sweetly asked: “Can you get me some juice?” And then there are the moments when he just comes in, flings open the shower curtain and asks me what I’m doing. Because… you know… he couldn’t deduce that from the running water and my presence beneath it.
2. A clean sofa. When I bought my sofa a few years back, J was just a wee little thing and I thought it would be a great addition to our house. It was sort of a brownish color which I felt would hide dirt, and it had velcro cushions so I could easily move the pillows from the back. What I didn’t realize was that the seat cushions were not velcro. Nor do they remove. Nor does brown effectively hide the weird juice stains and “Whoops” stains. Also, because they don’t come off, I’m constantly shoving the vacuum attachment down into the crevices and hoping that whatever it is that makes that loud crackling sound as it’s sucked up doesn’t have a face. There are crumbs and stains in places that nature and furniture makers never intended. And honestly, there’s just not a damn thing I can do about it. But I do miss the days of a sweet smelling place to lie down and watch television.
3. Watching television. Speaking of television… do they still make those primetime shows? You know, the ones that aren’t animated or come with a catchy theme song about how great it is to be three? Because I wouldn’t know. I haven’t watched a television show that didn’t come on Disney Jr, Boomerang, Sprout, PBS Kids, or Nick Jr. since 1976. And if I did, I wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to handle not having it ask me questions that I need to answer. (YO! HO! HO!).
4. Walking barefoot. Whatever you do, do NOT walk barefoot in my house. It’s like a Bosnian mine field. There are tiny legos everywhere. There are plastic swords the size of toothpicks. There may or may not be a smear of peanut butter from when J dropped his sandwich and assured me that he cleaned it but didn’t tell me where he dropped it. And did I mention the legos? Sidebar: Why do they even make clear legos? Is it a consipiracy to eff with your mind? Like “Oh. It’s not enough that we make these in gray and black and primary colors. What would TOTALLY rock is if we made them clear and miniscule and like little rocks of sadism that will lodge between adult toes and cause agonizing pain!” Regardless… if you’re barefoot in my house, you are taking your life (or at least the well being of your feet) into your own hands.
5. Being Classy in Public. Maybe this is a boy thing. I don’t know. What I know is that I have always been big on putting your best foot forward in public. In my prior life as a non-parent, this clearly did not include loud and lengthy conversations about the color of the Incredible Hulk’s penis, what my fart smelled like the last time I farted, or what would happen if you step on poop with “naked feet.” No lie, the last time we went to Publix and they handed J two green circle stickers, he proudly slapped them on his T-shirt and yelled out ‘LOOK AT MY BOOBS!!!! LOOK AT MY BIG GREEN BOOBS!!” And then he, and the bag clerk, and probably every other boy in a 5 mile radius, cracked up laughing.
Maybe one day, I’ll go back to Publix, after walking barefoot across my floor, to pick up wine to watch on a clean sofa after taking a long, uninterrupted shower. Maybe one day. But for now, I guess I better brush up on my anatomy, get another pair of flip flops, and counsel my kid on what constitutes and emergency worthy of interrupting a shower.
Posted on | July 15, 2014 | 2 Comments
“She’s probably a lesbian.”
In my high school years, I heard that a lot. I heard it from guys and girls. I heard it whispered and muttered and snidely remarked behind open palms. I wore a lot of baggy clothes. I played basketball. I often wore ball caps when I wasn’t in school and yeah, I listened to the Indigo Girls. I didn’t have my first mani/pedi until well after college was over and I didn’t do anything to my hair on school mornings except maybe run a brush through it because I didn’t really know what to do with it in the first place.
“She’s probably a lesbian.”
My best friend had an older sister who told her not to hang out with me because I wasn’t what she thought would be proper and popular. Maybe most important to the guys in my class in making their assessment… I didn’t date. Ever.
“She’s probably a lesbian.”
Honestly, the words never really bothered me. I’m not a lesbian, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with being one. I thought it was all a little funny, to hear that people thought I was gay and it really didn’t bother me enough to want to change anything about myself. Even when being comfortable seemed to create this misconception about me that I was bitchy, unapproachable, depressed, and maybe a lesbian.
As the years moved on, I learned how to fix my hair and how to apply eye make up. I learned to wear dresses and skirts and developed a love of high heels. I learned to buy in to the press and tuck and prod and decorate life that so many of my high school friends were already aware of. I learned to accentuate my assets and hide my flaws.
I learned to be “feminine” in the way that I was supposed to be.
When I was at the beach this summer, my mother handed me a stack of old photos, many of them of me in high school. My first instinct was abject horror. What was I wearing? Why was my hair so short? Who told me ball caps were stylish? No wonder everyone thought I was a lesbian!
The more I pushed the pictures away, the more something deep inside me resonated with those photos. Since my graduation from high school in 1996, I’ve been called a lot of things.:
I’ve been loved and hated. I’ve been called names by both men and women. I’ve been bought and sold by the mainstream; molded into who a woman is supposed to be…. pink and prissy… sweet and subdued. I don’t get called “lesbian” anymore.
But I still find myself still torn between being the girly-girl I’m supposed to be, the girly-girl I often like to be, and the tom boy, foul-mouthed, sports loving woman I am as well. But there’s no room to be both, is there? There’s no definition of “feminine” that includes being able to burp on command, loving craft beer, and cursing like a sailor at basketball games. There’s no definition of “feminine” that says I can not paint my toenails, not fix my hair, and not give one shit about whether my clothes match.
“A woman’s femininity is like a badge of honor”, a guy once told me, remarking on my inability to paint my toenails without smearing it everywhere or to eat a meal without often wearing a portion of it home. A badge of honor, he said.
But maybe it’s more like a shackle, binding me to the definition of what it means to be a woman… as defined by a man. Maybe being called a “lesbian” just meant I was bucking the system… being myself… not falling into the trap of what someone else tells me I should be.
Maybe the way I define myself is my true badge of honor… regardless of what it labels me to anyone else. Because if being called a “lesbian” means just being able to be myself, then yeah… it sort of sounds like a compliment.
Because pink is totally overrated anyway.
Posted on | July 9, 2014 | 5 Comments
The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
I’m here. I’m alive. I’m … somewhat functioning. But, we’ve been on vacation and I’ve been super productive at work and I just haven’t been able to find the time to get on here and tap out all the thoughts in my head. Plus also, vacation. You know.
Every year for the fourth of July my family has gone to the beach. And when I say every year, I mean that I have spent July fourth at the beach with my family almost every single year for thirty some years. There were some exceptions during law school and when I lived in Florida, but mostly, I was present and accountable at Ocean Isle Beach for the week of the fourth. This year was no exception… well, except for the fact that Banks went with us. You know. On a family vacation. Again. (See also: Butterflies and rainbows).
My brother in law had just gotten home from a week long trek to Guatemala to see Mayan ruins and tempt kidnappers with his American-ness, and because of that, sometime mid-week my sister walked into the house with a sheepish look on her face and her husband in tow, both sort of stammering and apologizing that … well… it seemed we had additional visitors at the beach house.
I don’t know about you, but I have never had any experiences with lice other than someone probably saying in elementary school “EW! You’re a girl! You have cooties! No… YOU HAVE LICE!” like it was some deep and terrifying secret illness that was just appalling and grotesque. So my first reaction was basically wide-eyed disbelief.
Lice? We don’t have no stinkin’ lice! I’m LAW MOMMA, dammit. I wash behind my ears and everything! How could we get through the rest of the week with FREAKING LICE?! I’d never wanted to get in a car and drive away so bad in my life. And my mom, who doesn’t really want to rock the boat, did her thing of saying my dad would be so upset… which everyone knows means that she’s totally worried about it but doesn’t want to say so.
While my sister and brother in law bought out the de-lousing section of the local CVS, I went through the motions of denying that any of this was actually happening. I mean, they have eggs called nits. NITS. That just sounds like the most disgusting thing ever. But despite my denial, I found myself approximately one hour later, bent over in a porch chair having my boyfriend scrub de-lousing shampoo into my hair. And inexplicably, we were laughing. All of us. Even my mom. Even my dad. All of us.
The neighbors had to be appalled. There were ten of us scrubbing shampoo into our hair. My sister joked that we should re-name our house “No Nit Pickin’” which my mother vehemently vetoed but the rest of us will probably secretly call the house from here on out. We scrubbed and combed and laughed. A lot.
Because when we get together, that’s just what we do in my family. We laugh.
We laugh about rainy days that eliminate beach fun.
We laugh about my brother in law’s inability to hum a tune, my brother’s insistence on being right about everything, my sister’s hippy nature, my tendency toward snobbery, my dad’s ability to tell the same joke seventeen times in three minutes, my mom’s chattering, and, now, Banks’ ability to fall asleep anywhere.
Because we’re family.
And yeah… we even and especially laugh about lice.
Posted on | June 18, 2014 | 2 Comments
Last week, I was at my wits end with my son. He was acting out and being four and in general driving me crazy. I felt like I was never, ever going to escape the madness of him… the angst-ridden, “potty word” filled, whirling dervish of his attitude. He was just so… four. He woke up in the middle of the night EVERY NIGHT and climbed in my bed, digging his feet beneath my knees and warming the room with his particular brand of four year old body heat. He whined. He told me to “just get him some breakfast!” He never got dressed on time. He never brushed his teeth.
I was very sure that I would never EVER say “Oh you’ll miss these moments” because WHO WOULD MISS THAT STUFF? Why would I ever “treasure” these moments of terror?
On Sunday, I picked him up from his grandparents’ house. He seemed about a foot taller. He didn’t whine, not even once. Even Banks, before he left, gave J a fist bump and high five for being such a big boy and not whining.
That night, he slept all night in his own bed, in the room I’d meticulously cleaned all weekend… wondering why I did so since he never slept there anyway. On Monday night, he didn’t set one foot in my room and he was just so… good… that I wondered if he’d been body snatched.
And this morning, I woke up at six o’clock and lay very still, wondering why I couldn’t hear him breathing, wondering why I felt so rested. He wasn’t there in the middle of my bed, taking up all the space and more than his share of covers. There was no morning snuggle as he woke up, no singing of “Rise and Shine and give God the Glory.” There was only the slight sound of noise in the kitchen and so I got up and shuffled towards the coffee pot alone, only to find him quietly playing with his toys, dressed and smiling.
“I got dressed all by myself, mom!” He announced with a grin, sporting his Carolina t-shirt and khaki shorts. “Can I have sausage for breakfast?”
I made his breakfast and set it down for him, watching this stranger in my son’s body. I watched him play, watched him become a boy, no longer a baby, right before my eyes. He was tall and strong and full of life. He had slept all night in his bed. He had dressed himself. He was learning not to have accidents at school and indeed hadn’t had one all week.
His fifth birthday is just around the corner and suddenly it hit me that what you miss isn’t the tantrums and the crazy. You don’t miss the interruptions in sleep or the eye rolls or the attitude.
What you miss is quite simply knowing that he needs you. Knowing that he sleeps better when he’s curled around you… knowing that when he’s tired or frustrated or just… four… that he wants that moment of comfort in your arms, even if it’s in the middle of the night.
And so when I woke up alone this morning, I felt a pang of loneliness I never expected to feel. I am so proud of my little boy for growing up every day. I am so very proud of the boy he is becoming.
But yes, the moments of baby… the moments of toddler and pre-schooler… the moments of frustration because “CAN’T HE JUST DO ANYTHING BY HIMSELF”… yes.
Oh my yes, I miss them. Who knew how much I would miss those terrible, tantrum filled-moments when all he needed was my arms around him to feel better. Who knew how much I would miss the sheer baby-ness of him … along with the predictable thump and pad of his feet down the hall to my room in the middle of the night.
It’s not, after all, the moments that you should treasure… because those are too hard to wrap your mind around. It is instead the feeling of being needed, of being the center and focal point of his universe. That it what goes away. That is what you miss, when they sleep all night in their own bed, and calmly dress themselves.
Posted on | June 17, 2014 | 1 Comment
You may know this and you may not, but I’ve been in a relationship in my past where I was cheated on. And if you’ve ever been cheated on, you know that the memory of that heartache stays with you like a hovering cloud of distrust. When you find yourself in a stable relationship, you still hover right alongside the edge, ready to leap off into the land of crazy where every buzz of the phone is someone else encouraging your significant other to leave you.
It’s a terrifying way to live.
He’s out with friends… or is he? Because maybe your ex was never actually out with friends.
She gets a text but doesn’t read it to you… maybe it’s from another man. Because the texts to your ex were always from other men.
The longer I’ve been in my relationship with Banks, the more I’ve realized something about distrust.. It’s not just about or affecting you… even though you think it is. When you strap your current to the yoke of your ex, you basically are saying to them “You’re just like them.” And you know what? It’s completely disrespectful to the person you are with. (not to mention to yourself… you can’t change? You can’t make better choices?)
Bear with me because some of you are probably all “But I HAVE to read my husband/wife/significant other’s texts and emails!” because if you didn’t… what… the world would end? They would cheat on you?
Here’s the thing… you can’t force someone not to cheat. You can’t make someone love you enough to be faithful to you. You can’t follow up on, dig into, or examine every interaction he or she has with another person. And by trying to do that, by trying to reassure yourself that they aren’t cheating TODAY or YESTERDAY, I think that maybe… without even realizing it, what you’re doing is saying to your partner that they are most definitely going to cheat TOMORROW. You’re announcing to them that you don’t believe that they have the capacity to be faithful, to be honest with you… to love you as much as you love them.
And I get the need to snoop, I do… because you tell yourself it’s not that you don’t TRUST them… it’s that you’ve been hurt before and you don’t want to be hurt again. But stop for a moment and think about the worst, nastiest, most awful person you’ve heard about in your ex’s past. The wife who cheated, the girlfriend who got pregnant with his best friend’s child, the man who abused physically and mentally… think about that person in your ex’s life. And then imagine if every day, your partner looked at you and said “I think you might be just like them.” Imagine that every day, your love chooses to remind you of that person in his/her past who hurt him/her and not only to remind but to say “I know we’ve been together for x months/years… but I still don’t believe that you aren’t that person as well.”
It’s a pretty lousy way to be in a relationship, isn’t it?
And I’ll admit, I did my fair share of snooping when Banks and I were first dating. And I’ll admit that it can still be hard NOT to snoop when his phone is unattended because those old familiar feelings creep in and I think “I could just reassure myself for a moment…”
But then I think about Banks with J, Banks with me, Banks just being himself. I remember that love is a gamble between two people who both throw caution to the wind and say “Yes. You could break me into tiny pieces. But I’m going to trust that you won’t.” It’s so very hard, but I trust that Banks will not hurt me. I owe him the respect and admiration and love that he gives to me. I owe him the gift of saying “I know my past. I know your past. I trust that we can both put that behind us and love each other the best way we can.”
So now when I see his phone lying on the table and those old familiar feelings creep in and say “Just look. Just once.” I shake my head and smile, knowing that I love Banks enough to respect his privacy… to honor him with my belief in him and my trust in his promises to me. It’s a struggle sometimes, it is. But I think it’s the only way to really be in a relationship.
Because if you truly love someone, you owe them your trust. And if you can’t give them your trust… then maybe you should figure out if you really love them at all.
Posted on | June 13, 2014 | 6 Comments
All my life, it seems, I’ve been telling people I’m on a diet.
In high school, I counted out how many grapes I could eat and not go over my calorie limit. In college, I took appetite suppressants and “yoga-ed” like a crazy lady. I was always counting and measuring and denying and starving myself into submission. Always two or three or four steps away from the “perfect” weight, no matter what my weight actually was.
Then, a few weeks ago, I was being THAT mom who lingers on the playground talking to the other kids and soaking in their awesomeness, when I heard a little girl, no more than six, say something in their play about dieting. They were playing house, nothing major, and certainly the child was NOT on a diet, but perhaps she’d heard her mother say that before, or her aunt, or a friend, and to her, that was what mothers say when faced with food of any kind.
It broke me a little inside to hear those words come out of the soft lilting lisp of a pre-K student.
It flashed those images of my high school self, dressed in baggy clothes and embarrassed by my boobs and body that didn’t fit the “00″ stereotype of most of the girls in my class. I was an 8 on a good day. On a day when I starved and sucked in and tightened the strap around my boobs. On most days, I was a 10.
I weighed 120 pounds at 5’8″ and I thought I was fat. I thought I needed to diet to mold myself into that “00″ ideal of the 5’3″ girls around me.
Even now, I’m uncomfortable saying what I weigh… scared that someone will raise an eyebrow. I’m scared to have my boyfriend, who loves me for exactly who and what I am, stand beside me when I’m on the scale. I’m terrified to take that first step onto the large office scale of my doctor and constantly joke that I’m wearing “heavy shoes” or a lead bra.
But when I heard that little voice say the word “diet” it occurred to me that it’s time I stopped saying it.
Because “diet” is a four letter word.
Diet implies imperfection. It implies there’s something wrong with the way I look, with what I weigh, with how I feel about myself. “Diet” implies that I need to deprive myself of all things, to force myself into a shape other than the shape I am.
“Diet” implies I am unhappy, displeased, discontented with being exactly and precisely who I am.
So yesterday, when J asked me why I was having a salad for dinner, I didn’t say it was because I’m on a “diet,” even though I’m sure I’ve used that word before. Instead I smiled and said “Because salad is healthy. And I want to be really healthy so I can stay your mom for a long time.”
“Diet” is a four letter word. But “healthy?” Healthy is not. And I’d much rather our girls say THAT when they’re pretending to be grown ups.
Posted on | June 11, 2014 | 17 Comments
Over the weekend, a friend invited J and I to their pool. We got there early and set up our towels and picnic lunches and then crept slowly into the pool, letting the coldness soak in through our bathing suits. I’m not thin. I like to think of myself as “curvy” or maybe “average” and my friend is teeny-tiny. We both were wearing tankinis, me in swim shorts and her in a swim skirt. As families filed into the pool, I took note of the bathing suits, noticing the men in their swim trunks, bellies on display. I noticed the little girls and boys contentedly wearing their suits without the slightest pause. They were all different shapes and sizes. They were in brightly colored patterns and summery prints. Everything was fresh and bright and cheerful.
Then I noticed that around the pool, every mother there was wearing a black bathing suit. Regardless of height or age or weight or curves or straight thinness.
Every single mother was wearing black. It was as though we were all shouting out “I SHOULDN’T EVEN BE WEARING THIS BATHING SUIT BECAUSE I AM SO LARGE.”
There was, in fact, one girl in a bikini, perfectly tan, perfectly thin in all the perfect spaces. Her stomach was without lines. Her bathing suit was bright blue and stood out in the crowd. She looked exactly like she’d stepped off the cover of a women’s magazine.
She was fifteen, if that.
I looked down at my black top and my friend’s black skirt and I mentioned the color theme. She looked around. She sheepishly shrugged and so did I. Because black is slimming, right? Because as women, we’ve been brain-washed into believing that we must look fifteen to be beautiful.
Well guess what… we aren’t fifteen anymore and we aren’t SUPPOSED to look fifteen. We are supposed to have curves and lines and the tugs and pulls of a life well lived.
We’re all so scared, aren’t we, we women. We’re so scared that someone will notice that our bodies aren’t “perfect”, that they aren’t what the fashion industry and the movie industry and the television industry tell us they should be. We’re so scared to relax for a moment, to curve our spine and let loose our breaths because dear GOD what if a roll appears between the thickly suctioned layers of our “instantly swimming suit.” We are so invested in someone else’s definition of perfect that we’ve forgotten that we have our own voices, our own opinions, our own definition of perfection.
And you know what? It’s never going to change. Our sweet daughters who don’t currently care one bit what they look like in their clothes will one day suck in and sit straight. One day they will pinch and pull and turn sideways before a mirror to see if it’s acceptable… to see if they are acceptable. Because it is what they see from the women around them. If you think they don’t notice that we’re all wearing thick black bathing suits, you are sadly mistaken.
Is that what we really want? Do we want these young girls to grow up thinking they have to meet the definition of “perfect” or even “acceptable” to someone other than themselves? That they have to look like they stepped off the cover of a magazine before they step outside?
Because they will. If all they see around them are women who meet that “perfect” definition wearing bikinis and women who don’t, trying to hide in their suits, scared to show their imperfections… then they, too, will learn to hide. To cover up what makes them so perfectly unique and special.
I don’t want to see that happen to my niece or your daughter. I don’t want to reinforce the pattern that only the perfect can be in public.
Because as beautiful as that one fifteen year old was, as “perfect” as she seemed to be, she was not the real person who stood out to me that day. After we’d been there a while, in through the back gate, a family slid in, a boy and a girl and their parents. The father climbed into the pool with the kids as the mother set up their things. After setting up, she pulled off her cover-up to reveal a beautiful candy apple red bathing suit.
She wasn’t fifteen.
She had curves and lines and marks of a life well lived.
And she was so beautiful, a colorful flower amidst the sea of black suits and careful postures, that even my friend commented on her bathing suit choice.
That one woman was perfectly herself, perfectly content, and yes… perfectly gorgeous. And I hope that her daughter knows what an amazing gift her mother is giving her… the gift of being comfortable in her own skin; the gift of being happy to be out in the sun with her family, happy to be thirty-something and to LOOK thirty-something.
I wanted to be her, as I watched her splash with her kids. I wanted to be that happy and carefree.
So I went home and bought myself a candy apple red bathing suit.
And I am going to wear it proudly every chance I get. Because it’s hard to be an “imperfect” woman; and if I can’t change the “industries” who make REAL women feel bad about themselves, at least… at very least… I can change myself.
Posted on | June 9, 2014 | 1 Comment
When I was a new mom, and I mean a BRAND SPANKING NEW mom, I was convinced I was the worst mother ever to walk the planet. I just knew I was thinking all the wrong things, feeling all the wrong things, and in general doing every single thing 100% wrong. Because no one told me I wasn’t. No one took the time, other than my awesome sister, to tell me that it was normal to think and feel and do all those “wrong things” I was thinking and feeling and doing. And as I look around my office, filled to the brim with VERY pregnant women, I couldn’t help but think about how much I needed someone to tell me that I was doing it just right.
So if you’re a new mom, let me hopefully not be the first to tell you that you are doing awesome right now. And the things you’re thinking/feeling/doing are all (probably) perfectly normal. What things? Glad you asked.
1. It is perfectly normal to have fleeting thoughts of hating your child. It is. Trust me. You don’t actually hate your baby and it doesn’t make you a bad mother. You have just brought in a permanent house guest and they are NOT obeying any of the etiquette rules for house guests. They don’t let you sleep. They may be leaving your nipples raw and ragged. They scream and cry incessantly but never tell you what is wrong. If they were not your child, you would have kicked them out within an hour of their arrival so OF COURSE you wish they weren’t there. This is all new. And it’s perfectly normal to wish they weren’t there at all. Did you actually throw them out with the trash? No? Then you’re awesome. I spent many a night pacing the floor, bouncing my child on my chest and bawling my eyes out, chanting “don’t hurt the baby. don’t hurt the baby.” Because being a new mom is tiring. And these strange little mostly-bald creatures just. won’t. stop. crying. It’s okay to have moments of fear/anger/frustration/hatred. It’s normal to have those moments. If you don’t have those moments… that’s okay, too, I’m just not sure we can be friends. (Of course, if those moments are more than fleeting you should talk to your doctor because PPD/PPA is for real and shouldn’t be swept under the rug.)
2. It doesn’t matter how you feed your child. Honestly. I feel like I should say this three times in bold. Breastfeeding? Good for you. Bottle feeding? Great job. Is. Your. Child. Getting. Nourished? Then you’re awesome. Period. No matter what the hell else anyone else says or does or makes you feel. You are feeding your child and that makes you a good mother. Not everyone can breastfeed, no matter what people want you to believe. Not everyone can do it. That’s why formula was invented, folks.
3. No one knows what those cries mean. When J was little and would cry, everyone would tell me what was wrong. “Sounds like he needs a change!” “Sounds like someone is hungry.” And all I wanted to do was should “SOUNDS LIKE YOU SHOULD SHUT UP!” Because all his cries sounded alike. He was crying. Yes, I know, he was probably dirty or hungry or tired or not a Katy Perry fan, but dammit, I didn’t know which one it was. And odds are, neither do they. So don’t beat yourself up because you don’t know the difference between a “tired cry” and a “hungry cry.” If you try to figure it out without throwing the baby against the wall and screaming “WHAT THE EFF DO YOU WANT” then you, my friend, are awesome.
4. Poop is without explanation. This is kind of a big one, for me, because I remember people telling me that the color of my kid’s crap could indicate problems. I don’t remember who told me this, but if I could go back in time and punch them in the face, I probably would. Because my kid pooped in rainbows. Sometimes I swear he created new and unexplainable colors. Sometimes he didn’t poop at all for several days and I had to put Vaseline on a thermometer and “jiggle it” in his butt (even though SOMEONE told me that if he didn’t mind it probably meant he was gay and 1. who the eff cares and 2. really? You’re going to tell a new mom that?). So don’t spend too much time worrying if the poop looks like he ate straight grape jelly, or candied apples, or whatever else. It’s going to be inexplicably multi-colored at times. As long as he/she isn’t pooping blood, you’re probably okay. And side note? If it LOOKS like he/she is pooping blood… check and see if it’s a side effect of a medication they are on so you don’t freak your freak and call poison control. Trust me. That’s not fun and you will carry a chip on your shoulder against your physician at least until your child is almost five.
5. All babies are different. This is crucial for you to remember during those moments when your well-meaning “friend” with the two month old comes over and says “Is he still crying every night/not sleeping 8 hours/feeding at 2am/not reading the Wall Street Journal? Mine was at that age…” They don’t mean to be rude… they’re just crappy people. No, honestly… they are. Anyone who tries to compare your child to theirs to your face deserves one of those yellow-y green-ish poop diapers smeared on their head. Pay them no mind. This is YOUR child, not theirs. And YOUR child will do things at his/her own pace. This is crucial to remember as they grow, too… though oh so hard in this Facebook world of “Little Max took his first steps! And at only three months!” If your child is loved and fed and changed and loved and yes I said loved twice… then you are awesome. End of sentence. End of paragraph. End of story.
Because being a new mom is 99% survival and 1% sanity/knowledge/serenity/peace. And as long as you can eek out that 1% somehow?
You are awesome.keep looking »