A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: positive self-image

Revelations and Taking Up Space

I feel strange for posting this, but I’ve spoken to enough women to know the internal rantings within silence. Mostly I’m tired of feeling bad, which means that I need to do more to alter how I see myself and pieces of my life. Recently I’ve returned to help on that front, which gives me reliable time to interface with a human and be self-serving. Things are about to return to a slog, even if not quite as bad…at least I hope it isn’t. Frankly the stress was becoming too much, so I began looking for more…different ways to take care of myself because my traditional strategies no longer cut it. But, it’s hard to divine ideas when my brain is consumed by when I can lay in bed…and not be able to sleep. It hasn’t been quite that bad for the past couple of months, but that time erratically comes and goes. I’m pleased…or proud of myself for not wasting moments of internal motivation. I worked hard to find other things…more of what will pull me up to living.

From time to time I post about physical appearance. It’s a complicated issue, as it isn’t just about what lives in my mind. Competing are the external forces dictating what should be attractive or merely acceptable. Part of the issue is that I’m no longer twenty, so while there is an entire world telling me how I should behave and look, I’ve surpassed the years when I’m really part of the discussion…It’s a weird state of being, both liberating and daunting.

So, I’m middle-aged now. I’ve birthed two babies. My body has changed. I’ve maintained a healthy lifestyle on many fronts, and even though things have been quite stressful for the last year, such healthful choices continued. That said, I’m middle-aged now, and I’ve birthed two babies. My body has changed. Parts of me are bigger, but I feel I look good. I feel I look strong and defined. I feel I look healthy and powerful. A year ago I lost my daughter’s baby weight, but since that time I’ve also lost several early pregnancies. I rapidly gained quite a bit, which has bothered me for several reasons least of which has to do with my actual physical appearance. I’ve tried to fully embrace the narrative of feeling that I look good. Feeling that I look strong and defined. Feeling that I look healthy and powerful. I’ve been a successful Weight Watcher for over a decade now, and I credit it for most of the ways in which I rejoice and value what my body can do. I’ve learned to treat myself with respect and balance with all things…much of the time anyway. But, the pregnancy losses and subsequent additional weight has done a number on my positive resolve…pregnancy hormones have their own pacing, even when it does not yield a baby…even if the pregnancy is a whisper. But, it seems that I have an option. If my doctor sees me as healthy at my current weight, then it’s okay to feel that I look good, to feel that I look strong and defined, and to feel that I look healthy and powerful. There is quite a bit I don’t know. I don’t know if I will ever have another child, probably not. I don’t know if I will ever be at the weight before I was middle-aged and birthed two babies. But, I do know that I have so many other things about me that far eclipse the tellings of a contraption at my feet. I know my body can perform miracles and help change the world for the better. My body can laugh and build connections to others. My body can love and be loved. So, I’ve decided to give myself permission to accept whatever extra weight my body has that may or may not continue to take up residence indefinitely. If this is your struggle, I give you permission to do the same.

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Less Than Perfect, but Close Enough

It wasn’t a perfect day, but it was a good one. The little lady woke earlier than she had been, so while I was unhappy to slog my unrested body out of bed, I was able to enjoy guaranteed Warrior Queen giggles as I speckled her neck with a light dusting of kisses. Even waking grumpily, she will laugh. She simply cannot help herself, and I absolutely love it. She does a couple of new things these days, like climbing…on EVERYTHING, particularly the kitchen table. She finally figured out how to move chairs to her liking to complete her table top cabaret. Her screams when I prevent her from pulling out a pushed in chair confirms that Mommy is the soul crushing dream killer I’d been hoping to become for years.

Image result for cabaret dancer

(“I told Pinterest I didn’t need this gig to get through college, but I’m just SO good at it!”)

But, Warrior Queen also cuddles on my lap, leaning against me, arching her back periodically to look me in the eye smiling. She carries me books telling me, “READ!” My fierce girl also plays. Over her quiet breakfast she scowled at me, furrowed brow and all. I imitated the expression; we held it in mutual determination for a few seconds before Warrior Queen broke into her tell tale toothy smile that consumes her entire face. I absolutely loved it, and I loved her lifting her delicate toddler feet so I could rub her soles.

Image result for bitter beer face

(You’d ache to rub the feet belonging to this face too, right Homebrew Talk?)

I’m just on the other end of a rare minor cold that still prevented any iota of exercise completion for a little over a week. Consequently, I’m not able to particularly perk up in the morning. Even pursuing a steady dose of a caffeine elixir, I’ve been ready to sleep standing for a couple days now. Today was especially grueling despite eight hours of mediocre sleep. I’ve been opting for hot tea for the past week or so. I’m thankful I thought to buy a few cans of evaporated milk during our weekend’s grocery jaunt. A creamy tea makes things just a little more special, which is ideal when my body does not.

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(It isn’t a unicorn, but I bet you feel more special now too, thanks, Scary Mommy!)

Mr. Man slept until a bit after eight, and he wasn’t even sick…anymore. That was lovely. I decided to try for our frequented library music program. My parents joined, which allowed me to peruse their used books on sale for a steal. There’s no rhyme or reason to the pricing…I bought eight books for three dollars; sometimes it’s five dollars for a few stories less. But, whatever, I’m able to pick-up some tales I wouldn’t think of otherwise. Today there were two with amazing illustrations, and the stories weren’t horrible. I’m a sucker for beautiful artwork, especially in children’s books. I managed one or two with somewhat of a diversity component. Such things are horribly difficult to find. Little Man enjoyed the parachute, shaking the material at the border with the adults. He usually begs to leave early when my parents join, but not today. He asked, but was easily convinced to remain; he seemed glad he did.

Little Man mostly played well in the kid area after the program. He’s moderately obsessed with trains these days. For a beat or two explained to a younger boy how one might go about playing with a train set…the young toddler a fraction of my son’s tall expanse was rapt. Other children flocked to the table as his play progressed. Suddenly my son swishes the large procession of mismatched train cars into a bin. Other children were waiting to have their turn with them, but he was finished and cleaned after himself…I should note he doesn’t do such crazy things as picking up after himself at home.

Warrior Queen took a three hour nap…Mr. Man did not nap at all. Apparently, he can open the gate upstairs, preventing him from descending down to the lower level of our home. He kept leaving his room throughout the two hour span of “quiet time,” but never unlatched the gate to journey downstairs until it had been almost exactly two hours. I’m grateful quiet time was:

Image result for woman yelling in bullhorn

(It still stinks, but there was no one around to pilfer my chocolate!)

rather than:

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 (Pinterest knows all about unobstructed children not napping.)

In between threats, I managed to accomplish some of what I hoped. I called my Senators and Representative about one obnoxiously almost infinitesimal fraction of the latest bit of horrible from our country’s “leadership.” I’ve also managed to find a couple of organizations that allow me to take part in this multi-pronged voter suppression issue from home. There is so, so, SO much stuff to focus on that I worry no attention is shining on hordes of people denied information and access about the election process at every level and their constitutional right to vote. Most of what I do isn’t particularly glamorous, but it’s important. Also important that I want my children to be socially and politically conscious, meaning I needed to step up my game…big time. Interestingly, it’s kinda addicting. Feeling like I’m part of my government…my country; taking action to make things better for those who’ve struggled for too long, in part, because of my complacency. But, my surge of participation and engagement gives me control…allows me feel another layer of purpose. I highly recommend it to others. Start small, call your state and federal congressional officials. You won’t regret it!

As I concluded the most recent of my frequent calls to my Representative, Mr. Man managed to appear downstairs without waking his sister, so we were able to spend some sweet time together. His latest thing is giving me kisses, and I love it. We shared my special popcorn, which consists of an olive oil spray coating with parmesan cheese sprinkled throughout. My son was doting on me, insisting that he periodically feed me pieces WITHOUT placing them on his tongue first. We read some of the new stories I purchased, built some towers. Little Man laughed and smiled in his glorious way. He snuggled the way he does best. I absolutely loved it. My growing boy helped me tidy, beaming as he uttered his desire to help me. He enjoys feeling helpful, and I adore watching the pride in his stature when I remember to assign him tasks. These days he itches to help me cook. I’ve started creating benign steps, so he can assist. A side note, I fantasize about the day when I can cook with my children.

Warrior Queen woke an hour after her brother. Retrieving her from upstairs, speckling her neck in whispered kisses…naturally she giggled. The remaining pieces of the afternoon and evening deteriorating slightly as the children grew tired, but I certainly won’t complain. After all, nothing is always perfect, but the good moments certainly are.

Receptacle

This isn’t my first post about post pregnancy body image. I’m still proud of my body as a reproductive entitiy. Almost daily I look at my children, especially Warrior Queen, and try to comprehend that I grew these two beings from some cells. It’s remarkable.

Enduring Gestational Diabetes with my second, I haven’t had all that much baby weight to lose, but like the poundage loss process after my son’s pregnancy, the shed is glacial.

I’ve heard just about every cliché and wife dogma when I express my frustrations with the lingering weight that won’t budge despite a focused and previously effective attack plan. Those offering such tid-bits of support should feel fortunate my reciprocating response stops at an eye roll so hard it gives me a view of my tonsils. One of the more frustrating and obnoxious comments is that carrying extra weight is minor because I’ve birthed a healthy miracle.

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(No, I’m really grateful for your input. I was just checking that my hairline was where I left it.)

The thing is, wanting to look and feel my best is not a superficial musing. I’m not sure exactly how it came to pass that mothers are not permitted to embrace their own badass MILF selves. Possessing a strong desire to look attractive and enjoy what I see in the mirror is a pursuit I’m entitled to include within my growing list of priorities. Furthermore, it is important for my children to see me embrace myself as valuable, independent of them however I choose to define it.

Another introspection that boggles is when I consider the reality of my shape compared to motherhood body misconceptions I held for most of my life. Before my son’s pregnancy, like many women I feared the inevitable carnage having a child would have on my form. It isn’t that I expect perfection or that I was ever anything close before my axis tilted. But, I was terrifyingly certain I would never look good again, and I like to look good even if I am woefully below airbrushed excellence.

For the year it took for me to lose the almost entirety of my son’s pregnancy weight, I was surprised by the process, maybe even delighted by the complexity of the experience.

That said, it bothers me to work so hard, yet have my body shed excess fat with an excruciating meander. But, the experience’s totality isn’t so bad. Even though I gained a significant amount more after my son’s pregnancy, I was struck by the difference in my appearance when I compared myself to pictures of a similar weight gain not credited with growing a human. Hovering at the same forty-five pound increase on my small frame, post Little Man, I simply did not look as heavy as I was for most of my twenties. That was interesting.

Currently, I’m about a clothing size away from my pre- pre-pregnancy size, but my body is forever changed. I used to hip ride my pants, no more. I embrace my mom jeans. And, really, if they are good enough for a president, what am I complaining about?

Image result for obama mom jeans(My tushie can totally compete with his!)

Prior to brewing Warrior Queen, my hips were wider, so were my thighs. My belly, for the most part, regained its former shape. So, while my old cut of pants yielded an uncomfortable muffin top, I could still rock a two piece bathing suit…in the event that we ever go on a vacation again. My general figure was a bit curvier with a slightly smaller waist. When I lost my first round of baby weight, I had less cellulite than I had at any other point in my life. My body, while not svelte, had significantly more definition as well. Even with seven more pounds left to shirk, my physique is all the more defined. I didn’t think that was possible. A bit more baby weight or not I look good, even if my weight number isn’t quite my ideal.

To look good has been an intense labor, but it’s one born of increasing love that was absent before experiencing the chemistry of motherhood. It feels strange to accept, or even admit that I, mostly, love my body in all of its quirky ways. It almost feels wrong to see my middle age baby body objectively surpassing the beauty of my gymnast teen years, even with spider veins aplenty. My children are at the age of expressing unconditional love as I never knew it to be, so why not bestow myself with the very regard I see on their beautiful faces when I enter a room? I’ve certainly earned it.

Tales of the Water Spout

I’ve reached that post baby delivery threshold where the glory of growing a human fades and the time of taking inventory of the aftermath begins.  At thirty-eight I consider myself an attractive woman despite not recalling the last time I even considered donning make-up.  Some of it is effort.  I try to exercise, sleep, eat well…wax.  Some of it is genes; approaching middle age I could probably easily pass for thirty.  On a good day possibly twenty-eight, but it would have to be a very good day after my daughter has been sleeping nine consecutive hours for a century and my son stops throwing every imaginable toy in the kitchen sink.  That said, I’m not terribly photogenic, which is evident in my published headshot.  But, to be fair, it was taken after another lackluster haircut at the very sunset of my gloriously heinous pregnancy with the Warrior Queen.

My body is starting to shrink, albeit not fast enough for my liking, but shrinking nonetheless.  It isn’t so much a vanity thing as I miss my lovelier clothing, and it would be even more lovely if I could wear a bra that fit.  But, returning to a type of pre-pregnancy body is a gradual thing, so periodically I try on wardrobe odds-and-ends.  This morning was a shorter dress just above the knee.  Since I birthed Warrior Queen, everything I wear has been ankle length, but I’m small, so ankle is kind in many instances.

This dress is a favorite.  Something about it is cozy and fun, even if my extra ten pounds doesn’t make it as fun as I remember.  Sometimes cozy is enough.  Draping this black number over myself I surveyed my legs in detail for the first time.  It seems every pregnancy brings about some type of physical godsend.  Surprisingly, my belly stretch marks disappeared after Little Man’s pregnancy.  Maybe their reincarnation will do the same this time; maybe not.  My spider veins, however, multiplied at Tribble-like frequency.

   (This is how I looked at my legs this morning.)

Such a statement says quite a lot because my spider veins were fairly plentiful prior to, and full out flourished after my son’s pregnancy.  I get that I’m supposed to love my goddess body and feel the pride of what it can do.  That sentiment certainly hasn’t escaped me, but I’d be lying if I said I was pleased that my fair, okay, pastey legs grew even more of these blue marvels.

A strange thing, though, as I scrutinized every inch of my stemware.  My younger pre baby me screamed that I should not go out in public with such arachnids visibly coating my lower half.  I even removed my cozy, fun dress for a moment.  Maybe it’s because of the comfort that pairs with the realization of my officially impending middle age.  Maybe it’s because my body, spider veins and all, did, in fact, create two pretty incredible humans who vomit…everywhere and throw toys in the sink.  I ardently tried to care about the appearance of my legs, but it just didn’t matter.  Sure, I’d love to walk on stilts worthy of the best airbrushing, but that will never happen.  So, while I forget to hold my breath, I will be wearing my shorter garments, making peace with the proliferations of spiders that climbed on my spouts again.

 

The Terrible Awful in Me, and Otherwise

I’m a terrible person; harsh, unforgiving, and cruel.  With gusto I will kick and stomp when someone is down, and award myself with notions of strength after I’ve accomplished just such a feat.  That someone is me.

I’m on the tail end of a fairly nasty nose cold.  I catch roughly a quarter of the plagues that befall my home, but when I am part of the befallen, it’s usually some degree of a doozy.  I don’t usually whine about being sick, so if I’m actually articulating misery with this type of thing, safe to say it’s probably pretty bad.

The first couple days of my cold were quite mild, so I deceived myself that I would be annoyed for a week, but my life would proceed as planned.  Maybe I would be grumpier than usual, but since Warrior Queen was also sick and waking up a bit at night, I probably wouldn’t receive too much blame for an edge in my cadence.  But, my colds are never mild.  I continued to tell myself I was experiencing a hint of sick even when a truck hit me in the early evening, leaving my eyes leaking tears from exhaustion, a blocked and vaguely pained ear, nausea, and headache.  My son woke from his nap, and I had not prepared dinner.  I stood at our kitchen counter frozen with slumped shoulders, unable to drape fish in a tray so the oven could do all the heavy lifting.  A rational person would say, “Man, I’m seriously sick.  Maybe I should sit.”  If a friend described the very scenario I was experiencing, I would tell them to sit and let their toddler burn down the house.  Hell, if the woman I encountered weeks ago or the person parked next to me at the mall described these events, I’d tell them to sit and grab a beverage…maybe some chocolate.

I berated myself for having to feed my son a serving of our plentiful leftovers.  He told me the lentil dish I served him was, “Delicious,” before eating two helpings, by the way, so why was it necessary to mommy guilt myself that the cod would remain in the refrigerator one more day?  I feel pretty confident the dead fish wouldn’t be insulted, and I was too sick to taste anything anyway.  My son clearly didn’t care, and my husband is always happy that he didn’t have to cook.

I’m proud to say much of the time I accept I’m not perfect…at anything.  Most days I even broadcast such news and events to anyone within close proximity.  The result is a shared laugh because so many of the trials of parenthood are strangely and wonderfully universal.  Having children allows me to welcome my imperfections, and laugh at the ride.  I don’t take myself quite so seriously anymore, but this critical piece of me continues to exist, taking full advantage when I am at my weakest.  And, she joins forces with my malleable and expansive imagination that possesses no loyalty either way.

After a grueling forty-eight hours of wakefulness, I managed a good night’s sleep.  Feeling significantly better and reasonably well rested, my equilibrium is returning.  I can laugh at myself again and reflect on my unreasonable chastise of my parenting performance and scrutiny over my general life tenacity.  What did I learn?  My children and I are at our best when I consider myself as worthy of kindness, attention, and nurturing…and chocolate has magical properties that can never be dismissed or minimized…

Pregnancy Woe, Whoa, Woooa…

There was a certain excitement when I first started showing with both pregnancies, but second time around I started showing very early, at five weeks.  Sadly it probably looked more like gas, but I didn’t want to admit it at the time.  By second trimester, I was looking…large, but that’s okay because it isn’t a problem to look pregnant when you actually are pregnant.  If you’re not, then it is heartbreaking, but not enough to put the chocolate cake down.  Yeah, that happened, but it’s a post for another time.

Pregnancy is funny that way; I will have the same girth for weeks, but then my fetus eats another fetus or something because I’ll suddenly look at myself and there is definitely more of me.  This REALLY started happening at the end of my second trimester.  I periodically issued commentary to my wonderfully honest husband akin to, “It’s probably my imagination, but I could swear I suddenly look bigger.”  That would be his cue to look up from whatever free physics-based computer game he was playing, and blandly glance at me with the statement, “No, it’s not.  You’re bigger.”  Then he would return to his game, and I would have confirmation that I’m not crazy…at least not on this issue.

Well, I’m about thirty-three weeks now.  My last ultrasound almost ten weeks ago had the Warrior Queen in the eighty-first percentile…clearly not my side of the family.  My doctor measured my bump recently mentioning that I’m carrying large; none of this shocking.  And, it wasn’t shocking when I ran into a friend of my husband’s while voting in our primary who asked if I was sure there is only one in there.  Sounds insulting, right?  It isn’t.  I look hot, but it takes twenty minutes to see me after my belly arrives on scene…

Two days ago was another one of those, “I could swear,” moments.  I look absolutely enormous.  My husband kindly said that our daughter will be in another time zone soon, and I have to agree.  I am four weeks from full-term, and at this rate I’ll be giving birth to a beautiful bouncing baby teenager…who ate Godzilla…and Tokyo.

 

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