There was an error in this gadget

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Why I no longer comment on weight

The other day I was out to dinner with a group of wonderful interesting and very active women. We chatted about work and running and pets and hometowns. 

During the conversation, one very fit lady commented on how she was "fat". Whether or not she can be considered "fat" isn't even relevant to what I want to say here. But do you know what I said in response?

Nothing. I didn't say a word. No. "Oh you're not fat" or "what are you talking about" etc. I pretended that comment never existed in that moment. Why? Because it never should have existed in that moment. 

Some might say that she was looking for reassurance. For support. For someone to say the opposite of what that voice in her head says. And quite frankly all of that is most likely true. 

I have battled that demon myself. The never good enough one. I've been the one in the past to make such comments about myself. About my body. In hopes that someone would tell me that what I believed about myself wasn't true. 

I was raised, that whenever I visited my dad, I was weighed. We literally called it "fat camp" when we hopped on the plane, my sisters and I. So much value and importance was put on what that number said. How we looked. What we ate.  Even now in that relationship there is always commentary on "how you look". It's the first thing said. 

And it has always made me uncomfortable. Not in a creepy way. But in a "this is not who I am" kind of way. I wished always to have been commended om my heart or brain or efforts or ideas or laugh or ANYTHING else. 

But you see, this is how it is with women in this world. We are judged on looks. That is what we first see in each other. See in others. How we judge ourselves. 

Never mind that the above mentioned person is a doctor. Or runs 8:00 miles. Or trains dogs. Or is kind and helpful. No. All she sees is thighs. (Thighs that help her run 8:00 miles!) For that is what the world wants us to see and value. 

One of my biggest fears in having children was this: that I would gain too much weight, not lose it and then be unlovable. 
Reading this now, it seems the most ridiculous thing in the world. But I believed it then. 

And then somewhere in between having 2 kids, and maybe after looking in the face of my daughter, who will likely face some similar battles, I stopped. I stopped caring what I weighed. I stopped weighing myself 4, yes,  4 times a day. I stopped worrying about stretch marks. I stopped giving a shit about what anyone else thought. 

And I started putting the effort of my thoughts into other things. Into playing with my kids and encouraging them in areas I thought were important. I started new goals for myself. I started embracing my messiness and imperfections. I started running even more and being ok with whatever my times were and accepting my efforts. I am investing in opportunities I find fulfilling. Including myself. 

I wish I could draw a map on how I got here. And then hand it to you. I have some ideas, cannot fully trace them. But I think it started somewhere in the ballpark of struggle and then gratitude. Gratitude changes a lot of things. And it changes your focus. 

For In the scheme of things. My bra or butt size means nothing. Nothing. Not one thing. It will not be mentioned in any epitaph or obituary. I never saw a tombstone that said "pleasantly plump". And so I will not address it. I will not entertain self-deprecating thoughts in myself or others. They (the thoughts)will be tossed out like the garbage. 

I will not ask you if you lost weight. I will not ask you how. I don't care nor will I comment on if you "should" eat ice cream or carrots or how much of it. I will not correct you if you put your looks down. I will not joke about my baby pooch. (That pooch gave me my 2 greatest accomplishments). 

Instead I will use that energy to address that which has value to me. Everything else. Who you and I are. Who you and I want to be. Our visions. Our accomplishments. Our character. Funny stories. Laughs. Drink coffee with lots of sugar in it. 

That matters. 
That I will discuss with you all day long. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Missing momma

It used to drive me crazy, how even as an adult, whether in greeting or saying goodbye, she would kiss me on my lips. Never a cheek or forehead. Always the lips. 

Now I would give anything for a sweet momma peck on the lips. 

Sometimes I think I miss her more now that I am a momma myself. I feel like I understand her more. I get some of the quirks and the ways she would annoy me. I also enjoy annoying my babies. 

I think what I really miss, is having someone I can call or ask questions to when I start wondering about my own infancy or milestones or experiences. 

Was I a good sleeper?
Did she nurse, bottle feed or both? 
Did she experience ppd after birth. Or after weaning like I did? Or at all?
Did she and dad argue about names?
Did she miss having her own momma to share these thoughts/feelings/ experienced with?
Did she ever just stare at her babies in wonder too?
What was is like when she had 2 miscarriages? How did she cope?
Was she scared during labor? Was anyone with her?
What did she do when a fever went up?
How did she discipline early on?
What did she do for self care with 3 little littles?
Did she feel guilt over calling a babysitter?

With 1,001 questions, I want to dial up heaven. Have some coffee and a mom to mom chat session. 

I wish she were here to criticize my parenting. 
Or tell me that I will get through the terrible 3's
To compare notes
To beam with pride at my babies. 
The babies she used to harrass me to have. My daughter, who bears her name, has tiny tiny feet like she did. My sons hair is blonde, just like hers. I wish she could see them. Hold them. 

Mother's Day can be bittersweet. It symbolizes both my greatest gift and accomplishment. Yet also my greatest loss. 

It does me little good to linger over what I do not have. I do acknowledge my grief. It seeps into the littles cracks of every day life. It cannot be helped. And sometimes I am sad about it. 

But I must also trust who she raised me to be.  And accept what is. I think she she did well. 

Her legacy lives on in 2 precious faces. 

Until we meet again. 

(From my wedding 10 years ago)

Monday, May 4, 2015

In this moment

Tonight I stood holding my infant in her dark room, rocking her back and forth. Willing her to go to sleep. 

It was my third attempt to put her down for the night. The poor dear has a top tooth that is ready to emerge at any given moment. It also didn't help that my 3 year old was fussing mightily about going to bed. Ah, bed time. There are no words. 

In the midst of it, while patting her back, a moment of clarity emerged. What the experts might call an exercise in mindfulness. An appreciation for the moment. 

I recalled how 4 years ago, I would have lied, stolen or sold my soul for this very moment. To hold a precious one of my own. And to have another the next room over would have been considered above and beyond a blessing. Anything for the right now. 

I thought about how in 10 years my babies will be too cool and too big for this, to be held and rocked to sleep. And 10 years beyond that they will most likely not be under this roof. How in those future times, I would do anything for this very moment again. I will wonder where the time went. 

And so we rocked. A little bit longer. A few more pats on the back. Sniff of the hair. Trying to imprint this feeling, this picture, in my memory. 

To be in this chaos, this home, this very action, this moment is a gift. 

If only I could remember this tomorrow 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Recreating an Audrey Classic

A few days before Christmas, Bill had something lying under the tree for me. This was highly unusual because A. It was wrapped before Christmas Eve and B. We had an almost 3 year old who believed that all wrapped presents were for him. 

My hubby handed me the gift after our son went to bed and stated that I needed to open it early. 

So with curiousity and trepidation I started to unwrap what looked like a clothing box. I was desperately hoping it wasn't a sweater. Bless his heart, he tries with the sweater thing every year. Tries. 

Instead what I found was an office clip board. Attached were about 6 pieces of white printer paper. 

Each page read the following:

1. London?
2. Paris?
3. Rome?
4. Istanbul?
5. 2015
6. You choose

I was rendered speechless. Hubby of course was recording this with his phone. About 5,000 thoughts went through my head at once. 

I finally decided on a "how?" Question. 
I couldn't quite figure out what was happening. How we could afford this. Why this wasn't Ireland, which we have been holding out for one day. 

He put the camera down and explained. Apparantly the week before he was home with the kids watching PBS (not out of the ordinary at all) and they were having a pledge drive. We've been avid PBS viewers for quite some time but have never donated. Bill considered this a good time, plus he'd get some Rick Steve's DVDs to give me as a Christmas present (which I LOVE Rick Steve's and his nerdy little cargo pants and fanny pack)

And by doing so his name was put into a drawing to win a trip through Rick Steve's travel company. 

And a few days later. They drew his name. My husbands name. For a free Flipping trip to flipping Europe!!!!

Ok to one of 4 cities in Europe. The above mentioned ones. 

The urgency was to get the paperwork in for tax purposes done by the end of the year. The paperwork required a notarization of my signature. 

Anyway

So back to how I am going to Europe for free. I mean taxes I guess. But it's all expenses paid. Airfare. Most meals. Lodging. And fully guided by a Rick Steve's approved guide. 

I have never left North America. I always regretted my lack of courage and lack of finances in my younger years to dive in and explore foreign lands. 

As you can imagine, I am losing my mind with excitement. 

And after very thorough research on my part, I made a decision. 

We chose Rome, Italy. 

It will be my "Roman Holiday". Just like Audrey Hepburn. Without the being a princess and getting a pixie haircut. 

We go this fall. Without children. After baby turns one. 

Bill wins every argument for the next 5 years. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ben and the big guy

Much to my chagrin, the closest and most convenient store to where we live is Walmart. I'm not getting into why I dislike Walmart, but alas, I'm a hypocrite because I find myself there regularly. 

Luckily Ben listens to me pretty well while we are there. It may or may not have anything to do with a Dunkin Donuts bribe. But I let my now 3 year old run free because he always stays in my sight. He loves to look at people and run fast and giggle and point of every Batman or other thing of interest he sees. 

This pointing things out is usually adorable and makes me laugh a little. Until the inevitable little guy observation that mortifies parents and stops them in their tracks. Ok. It did for me. 

There was a gentleman at Walmart the other day who was rather large in size. I don't mean 7 feet tall, but morbidly obese. Walking was obviously difficult for him. I heard other customers commenting under their breath. Judgemental things. I felt bad for him. 

Then my son stops his running and points at this gentleman and yells "big guy!!!" Twice. The "big guy" obviously heard him. The entire store must have heard him. My heart stopped and I was the most embarrassed parent in the world for a split second. Internally I was panicking. "Oh my God! What has he done!" 

It's amazing how fast your brain can flow through approximately 1 million thoughts in the matter of  2 seconds. Luckily One thought included remembering that my son was only 2 and just making one of his observations. This brought my blood pressure down a little. 

And I responded with the first somewhat not horrible thing to say. 

I asked Ben to "say 'hi' to the guy"

And Ben said "hi guy"

And the guys face, whose looked equally as mortified, perked up a little, and waved and said "hi" back to my son. We smiled at each other, the big guy and I, and moved on. 

I have no idea what the guy thought of this interaction. Or how many people remind him of his size on a regular basis. My heart hurt for him afterwards. 

I don't know that I can fully explain why I chose the response that I did. 
I can think of a few intelligent counselor-y answers to explain myself in retrospect. Like I didn't want to shame Ben or didn't want big guy to feel worse or sometimes people feel invisible and want to be "seen" as a person, not just a "big guy". 

But that would not be honest.

In a situation sometimes, you just respond. 

But as I ponder what happened, it does make me more thoughtful of other future such encounters. Ben is 3 now and still very observant. Baby will be doing the same things before I can even blink my eye. 

How do I teach them in simple ways to be themselves, be honest but also honor other peoples existence and feelings. 

These little moments mean something. Even if I don't know how yet. 

My Lord, parenting is a trip. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Rejection

The other week one of the few shows I care to watch on television came to an end. I liked Parenthood because I felt like I was watching real people, like neighbors or someone I would know , go through real problems, and fight through them, sometimes making difficult or unpopular decisions. No murders or gore or violence or whatever. 

So this week I decided to revisit the shows beginning for lack of interest in anything else to watch. 

Already in the second episode, I found myself really resonating with one issue one character was struggling with. Julia, the lawyer sister, who generally is not my favorite, was struggling with their daughter. Nothing crazy like drugs or acting out, but in a way that I am struggling with my almost 3 year old right now. 

Every time Julia goes to do anything with or for their daughter Sydney, Sydney rejects her and asks for their dad to do it. Tucking into bed, playing with, cutting up food, whatever. 

And so it is in my house. Perhaps it's a phase, and like Julia, I am trying desperately to put up a brave and accepting face. But being continually rejected by the apple of your eye flipping hurts. 

Now I am aware that it is a good thing that my son loves his dad so much. I want them to be close. I know he misses his dad during the day. And we have had big change recently with the new baby. And we also have fun and play together and do projects at home during the day. We hug and help baby and I make sure baby naps and we get one on one time. 

But once his dad gets home, I cease to exist. 

It's been a season of growth for me in this. I usually do not take a rejection or perceived rejection well. Partly my family history includes a bombardment of that feeling. So when rejection happens, it stings old wounds. And I react my either getting on my high horse or running away/avoiding or rejecting in return.  Or something else equally unhealthy or ungracious. 

However these go-to or usual internal responses (which turn into external responses) would have some dire consequences. I cannot run away from or avoid my son. Not do I want to. I love him too much. There is no high horsing or yelling or sarcasm, because he doesn't understand. I don't want to make him feel bad/guilty. I want him to learn to express emotions learn healthier ways to respond to conflict than I did. There can be no rejection/guilt etc in return from me, or else let the cycle continue. 

No. 

 My son is teaching me to accept rejection. Graciously. To love even if it stings a little. To get over myself a little. And to maybe help heal those old wounds. 

I thought I was supposed to be teaching him. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

The smile

This morning baby and I ran a few errands while Ben was at his one day a week pre pre-school program. We stopped at my new office. Then sat at the coffee shop while I did a little work. Finally we took the filthy Highlander to the car wash 

Though cold, it was a beautiful day full of sunshine, and a few other people had the same idea. So we went inside the car wash "reception area" to sit and wait while our car went through the ringer. Apparantly it is a very fancy car wash. 

I took baby out of her car seat since she was awake and we sat  making faces at each other and examining our environment. 

Then an adorable old man walked in. Cane and all. Serious-faced. I watched baby turn her head to see the movement. And her face immediately lit up. She smiled her biggest smile of the day at this little old man she has never seen before. 

That's when I turned my head. I saw the man stop in his tracks. His face went from stern to an even wider-than baby's grin. He commented on how lovely she was and how her smile just made his day. It was so pure and genuine and earnest, how he said it. He also mentioned that at only 10am he was already not having the greatest of days. He then sat an adjacent table and made little faces at her and then made pleasantries with the staff about his car. 

And each of our respective days went on. I left to pick up a can of paint and then my son. Went home, made lunch, prepared everyone for nap time. All vey ordinary for us. 

Obviously babies are cute and people love them. But that interaction has stayed with me today. Something tore at my gut as I thought about how this little 4 month old had the ability to change the trajectory of someone else's day. 

How at such a young age, her life and existence serves a purpose. To people beyond myself and her dad and her brother. And without even trying. 

If her, in her very limited capacities,  than how much more the rest of us. Each of us. Regardless of our abilities/capacities. 

Perhaps I am thinking about and looking into this far too much. 

And maybe not. 

Maybe I myself, should smile such a genuine smile a little more. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

COOKING

I had a little giggle at myself today as I attempted to add a few recipes to a cookbook for a mom's group I am involved with.

I think the idea of a cookbook is a great idea and I love seeing what other people are making for their families and expanding my culinary repertoire.

And well, I just love food.

What I started to notice is that I have very few recipes pegged down to just that, an actual "recipe". I often start from some recipe somewhere, and then modify it or eventually go with what i think i remember it to be and just make it. I think that this is sort of what i love about cooking. I do enjoy cooking. I can experiment a little and go with my gut. I make whatever I feel like. I am not a meal planner in the least bit.  It works for me much of the time. Bill can probably attest to about an 80% success rate.

I think that this is kind of how I do life. its my personality. I just do it. I look at "recipe" or a basic plan or idea. Then I just go with my own flow or flavors. No one can tell me what to do. Not even a cookbook. And so far, it has served me pretty well in many areas.

The areas it does not serve me well... there are some things in which you MUST follow a recipe. Like baking. Or organizational and financial life tasks...bills, taxes, assembling a chair. If you do not do it the right way, pay attention, follow directions, you will fail miserably. Like baking a cake. Baking is a struggle for me in this way. I do not follow directions well. There is no room for creativity. And I dislike this.

That is why, when you are me, you marry an engineer.

And this is why our personalities and strengths balance each other out so well. One of the many ways

This is also why sometimes you just have to hunker down, despite yourself, and follow the stinking recipe. Even if it is miserable. Because, well, I would like to be able to afford my house, sit in a chair without breaking it, or eat delicious cookies. It has taken me years to make a decent pie or batch of cookies. Because some things must simply be done correctly.

And so tonight, I did find a few recipes of value to add to the book. Ones that i use over and over. ones that I often modify still. And scorn convention a bit. How to make your own brown sugar. barbecue sauce. snack/granola bars, etc.