Category Archives: Motherhood

Wearing White Jeans Again Part III

Just catching up? Here are Part I and Part II

I remember the moment so vividly. It was just a fleeting glance, but it captured my manic body image frenzy as a new mom as perfectly as a photograph in my mind. There I was, a brand new mom of a beautiful baby girl, walking up the block of a café-and-office lined street towards the park on a sunny weekday.

I was with a group of other new moms with whom I’d started to form friendships, and we were taking our babies to the park because it seemed like a normal ‘mom thing’ to do. Forget that we were exhausted from lack of sleep. Forget that none of us had probably showered that day (okay week), and had telltale mom buns, no makeup, and nursing tops with milk stains all over them. None of that mattered to us. How could it, when we could barely form sentences at that point? We were all basically winging it, as all new moms do.

Anyway, I remember that as I was walking up the street in the middle of my mom-pack, I happened to glance over at my reflection in the glass of a dimly lit store, and saw myself staring back…only it didn’t seem like me at all. I didn’t even recognize the person in the glass. That person looked tired, worn down, disheveled, bewildered, and paunchy. I looked down at my belly in disgust, and tried to suck it in, like I had learned to do in dance classes. I looked in the glass again and saw that what had once worked to give me a slender profile through the stomach region, now offered very little change in bulk.

And I remember looking up at the new moms in front of me, wondering why and how in the heck their bellies appeared to be flatter than mine. Or were they? I didn’t really know for sure, but they were at the very least recognizable as the same people I had seen before and after giving birth. It didn’t seem fair to me.

Even more confusingly, I couldn’t really grasp why I was feeling that way. I knew as well as anyone that it takes awhile for your belly to go down postpartum. Never mind that I was at my pre-pregnancy weight less than a week postpartum. I was proud of that fact, don’t get me wrong, but it was my overall shape that took me by surprise. I looked…well…different. I didn’t feel normal.  And I didn’t feel like I fit in with my peers.

It harkened back to the feelings I had the fateful Day of the White Jeans. I wasn’t good enough the way I was. I should have been able to pull it together the way all the other new moms seemed to do. I should have been exercising more, and taking showers, and putting on some makeup at least. I should have at least done that much if I was going to have a belly like that, resting atop hips that had also seemed to have gathered some excess baggage along the way.

I remember longing in that moment for the days before my baby’s birth, when I could sleep when I wanted, exercise when I wanted, and shower when I wanted. I felt a fleeting sense of resentment, followed by guilt for having those feelings, because I loved my baby girl so much! I vowed that I would at least try to exercise more, if only for my baby to have a healthy mama.

And I would also take a shower, for goodness sake.

Stay tuned for Part IV!

Wearing White Jeans Again, Part II

Just catching up? Read Part I here.

Yellow splotchy white jeans. Yellow splotchy white jeans. Interestingly (or not) enough, it was the perfect metaphor for my life. The white jeans were how I should have seen myself, washed clean of imperfections, forgiven, loved, with my whole life ahead of me. But all I saw were yellow splotches of imperfection, failure, and evidence that I was not enough.

With the tears still stinging my eyes, I tried in vain to scrub the stains off of my jeans. The splotches wouldn’t go away no matter what I tried. I took the yellow splotches as a sign that white jeans were for somebody slimmer, more popular, more wealthy, and for someone who could achieve it all without getting dirty. I threw them away in the garbage, and went on with my life, telling myself they just weren’t my “thing” and I still had plenty of other denim options. White jeans would be forbidden.

My body insecurities followed me well past my teens. I was a walking cliché of every young female with body image issues. Convinced my bottom and legs were simply too big, I fell into fad diets and exercise, protein bars and energy drinks, and “energy pills” to keep me going through full-time jobs and full-time junior college. I lied to myself, saying I was simply trying to get healthy.

Even after I got married, and my husband truly absolutely loved me and loved my body proportions, I still struggled under the guise of trying to “get healthy.” Fortunately for me, I never actually hit a rock bottom. In fact, each new thing taught me more and more of what NOT to do to achieve health. I could see the patterns emerging. I began to research in terms of health and nutrition as opposed to losing weight. I pushed myself through vigorous workouts, and dance classes, but really it was because I enjoyed them more than it was because I wanted to lose weight…losing weight would just have been a bonus.

Then, I got pregnant with my first daughter, and my view of my body began to permanently change. As I saw my body begin to change, grow, and literally expand before my eyes in such a new way, I began to feel as though the design for my body was completely out of my control, and out of my hands.

Pregnancy was new to me, and there was just so much information out there. Lists of do’s and don’ts and worries and frets of pregnant women all over the place. And there I was, wanting salted caramel ice cream one minute, and Granny Smith apples the next. The once chocolate and garlic lover couldn’t stand the smell or thought of it, and she even now liked mushrooms…MUSHROOMS!

I felt completely out of control and away from everything familiar when it came to my body. I was an emotional mess (well, okay, arguably that wasn’t new haha) and I felt like, based on stories I’d heard, I would never get my body back again. And there was a person growing inside me every day. Bigger and bigger, taking over control of my sleep, my movement, and my appetite.

I looked fine on the outside, buying up maternity jeans and tops, reading up on pregnancy health and nutrition, and listening to any podcast I could find about birth stories and the like. I even kinda liked my belly bump look. It was nice and firm and gave me an excuse not to exercise as much, eat what I wanted “for the baby” and dress in yoga pants and a loose top for work. But on the inside, I was starting to freak out about how I would look after the baby was born.

Stay tuned for Part III!

Sisterly Love: The Adventures of Kickee and the Boo

When I was pregnant with my second daughter, Kickee (nickname of course), I had this nightmare where I was Kickee, running through an empty field, lost under a thunderous skyline. I distinctly remember feeling the fear and shortness of breath as I ran, desperate to find my older sister Boo (also a nickname). I felt the panic rise in my chest as my head darted left and right, trying to find her. I could hear her giggle, but as I cried out to her, I realized she had abandoned me. I stopped as tears rolled down my cheeks, falling bitterly to the hard, soil covered earth below. I was all alone, and Boo was not coming for me.

The most distinct memories I have as a kid are shared memories. I was not alone unless I really tried to be. (And by alone I mean hulled up in my top bunk with my makeshift shelf of books and possibly a Blow Pop or stick of gum.) There is a special kind of tug of war that plays out in the hearts of those of us lucky enough to have siblings to grow up with.

My sister and I are no exception. On any given day we could be found fighting over a toy one minute, and then giggling hysterically over a private joke the next. We made up silly games that only we could understand the rules to. We cheered each other up, and put each other down. We played together, we shared stories and toys, and we snuck off with each other’s Halloween candy (or worked together to raid my Mom’s lingerie drawer chocolate stash).

You get my point. Siblings are a special kind of friendship. You can’t escape each other, so you love each other no matter what. There’s no walking away from that relationship (at least as a kid) and no one else in the world will simply “get you” the way a sibling can.

I pretty much had my dream figured out, at least to some extent by the time I woke up from it.

I distinctly remember a handful of times when I was approaching my teenage years when my next door neighbor friend of ours, Jennifer (there’s always a Jennifer, isn’t there?) and I thought it was cool to try to ditch my sister while playing in the parking lot between our apartment buildings. It wasn’t that we didn’t like her, or that there was anything wrong with her. It was just that she was 2 years younger, and we were on our quest for independence.

But I’m sure to my sister, it felt like a betrayal.

Even though my sister and I have a great relationship, we have each other’s backs in everything, and we are generally very close, the memory still haunts me, because I am the Big Sister. I should have been there for her. I am the Rule Follower, and Path Finder and Way Maker. I had a responsibility to her, and I let her down. It was like a huge black smear across my Sister Record.

I feared for Kickee because of that. I feared for her relationship with Boo.

I feared for Boo, too. She is so like me in so many ways, and I don’t want to see her fail. She hates to fail. It crushes her when she does. What parent wants to see that?

Flash forward to yesterday. Kickee and Boo were riding bikes and trikes in the parking lot near our apartment buildings with our neighbor’s kid, Anderson. Anderson is a great kid…but he’s 4. And 4 is as 4 does sometimes, right? Haha. Anyway, I was walking up the driveway when I heard Boo whimpering.

“No, no! My Sissy!” She cried.

I looked over to where she was riding in time to see my her jump off her little training wheel bedazzled bike with pink sparkly streamers, and pry the pink bike helmet off of her curly little head, eyes flashing with concern and…anger?

My eyes followed the path of her gaze to the lawn where I saw Kickee standing with Anderson. Anderson was trying to take away her little wooden trike, and Boo was looking ready to throw down over it! Anderson saw Boo, and immediately backed away from a bewildered and mildly confused Kickee, who then toddled off with her trike in tow, unaware that she had possibly narrowly missed witnessing a great fight waged in her honor.

A fierce feeling of warmth and pride filled my heart as the tears started to brim in my eyes.

The fiery and unmatched sisterly love my little 4 year old Boo Bear had just displayed in the face of adversity toward her baby sister left me floored. Every fear I had left residually stashed in the corner of my heart from my Kickee nightmare vanished in an instant.

After checking on Kickee, I walked over to Boo, who was back on her bike, enjoying the afternoon sun. I told her how proud I was of her. I told her how important it was to always look out for your sister, and how she was such a good girl. I explained to her that no other relationship in the world will ever be the same as the one she has with Kickee.

I told her to always do what she had just done: Stand up for her sister no matter what. Because that’s what sisters are for.

What’s In A Drink?

What’s in a drink. What’s in a drink. What’s in a drink? The thought plays over and over again like an echo in my head. So random. Why drinks?

Hmm. My mind skips all over the place on the metaphors that could correspond, shattering the echo into a thousand pieces. Do I mean an alcoholic beverage, perhaps? Those can be tasty…or toxic…or both. Stories, lots of stories there. Lots of pictures of happiness and destruction to be painted. Sure, that could be it.

Or maybe a health tonic? I’m big on those. I keep up with the latest trends, for sure. Right now it’s matcha instead of coffee. Matcha lattes made with almond milk of course because dairy is bad.  I get them on the daily from the trendy hipster coffee shop near my work. I pair it with a vegan almond chocolate scone. My brain is trained to make the word ‘vegan’ synonymous with healthy. Even though I know it has processed flour and sugar. It must have those things because it just tastes too good.

Coffee is out right now. Unless of course, the coffee is cold-brewed and in a fancy little overpriced bottle. Then you bet I’ll snap it up, dump it in a cup on a Sunday morning and drink it cold in practically one gulp. I keep a bottle of turmeric ginger pressed juice in my desk drawer. It says to consume within 20 days of opening. I haven’t opened it yet. I can’t decide what to put it in…or do I just drink it straight up, like a shot?

Maybe I’m just talking about my kids’ juice boxes, and a picture flashed through your mind of a slightly anxious, tired, blond woman standing in the chaotic center of the local Costco with her agitated young daughters, trying to read the side panel of a small Tetra-Pak box to see how many artificial fillers are contained, and is it worth all the sugar? Is that what you pictured? Nope, that’s just my mind? Okay then.

Maybe it’s not an actual drink at all. Maybe it’s more like, as the saying goes, “drinking the Kool-Aid” of an ill-intentioned idea. Perhaps I am trying to backpedal as I analyze the consequences of a recent decision I made, wondering if I did the right thing. Or did I get sucked in (again) to something I shouldn’t have? Was it a purchase from an ad I saw last week? Did I watch a video about something that upset me, and then lash out at my children? At my husband? At myself? Hmm. So many possibilities.

Let’s go back to the alcoholic beverage though, for a minute. I’ve recently been getting these delicious little peach flavored wine in a can four packs from Trader Joes. I bring them to small group Bible study on occasion and drink one, sharing the rest with the others. Is that wrong? It sounds wrong. Everyone is OK with it, and enjoy it, but…am I making the right choice, or clouding everyone’s judgment?

Speaking of alcohol, my husband came home past midnight with the cripplingly pickled sour smell of drink on his breath. I could smell it from across the room, and it made my stomach turn. I told him to go brush his teeth before he came to bed. This was after I worry-texted and called him after shivering alone in my bed for a couple of hours. He said he was at his friend’s house. Another friend he hadn’t seen in years was over and they were hanging out. He apologized for not calling. For making me worry. But I was already mad, and I couldn’t let it go by the time he walked in the door.

I hadn’t wanted to tell him about his breath. I had wanted to hold him. To tell him about my day. Talk about how fiercely cute our daughters were, and what they had spent their afternoon doing. To marvel with him over how grown up our almost 2-year-old was getting, and what I wanted to do for her upcoming birthday. But I didn’t say any of that. I simply commented on his breath. He said he would brush his teeth and come up to bed in a little while. But I woke up alone in the bed. He had fallen asleep on the couch downstairs, watching TV.

What’s in a drink.

So much is in a drink. More than I can unpack in one sitting. Lives are shaped, bodies filled, emotions muted. One can drown their sorrows, and their dreams right along with them. One can shatter their entire world, glue it, and then fill it up again like a tank, with liquid dribbling out at the seams. I am reminded of the picture of the little Dutch boy with his finger in the crack in the dam. He looks so worried. He is stuck in place. He cannot move or the whole dam might break.

Am I already drowning, or is my finger just stuck in the dam? The thought comes forward and dissipates like a phantom. Out of nowhere. It takes me by surprise because I am generally filled with hope and joy and possibility. I am saved. I have Someone to cling to. But right now I am exhausted. And my head is full. I feel almost drunk, even though it’s 9 o’clock in the morning and I’m sitting at my desk. I drink in the notion that maybe I am stuck. Not because I am without hope, but because I need to make some decisions about how to move forward with my life.

Why am I here, God? What would you have me do? The question pleads as I stare at the metaphorical dam in front of me, the finger of my negative thoughts firmly in place, sealing it all in. “My cup runneth over.” The Psalm repeats in my head from memory as a reply. I look again at what I have. All that I have. A quick inventory is run. As it turns out, I have much to give. My glass is pretty full. I have been given many blessings, haven’t I? So why am I not sharing them? That’s the real problem, isn’t it? It’s not what the drink is made of. It’s that my glass is full to the brim. I have more than I need and I’m stuck in place because I’m not sharing.

Here I am, holding my finger in a dam, worried about removing my finger when the thing I actually need to do is to let it all go. I laugh out loud.

I have much to give. Much to say. Much to do. So here I go. I am starting with you.