Accepting My Body

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I look down in the shower at my body.

The water is drip-dropping down my hair, off my nose, down my torso—to my toes covered by a layer of skin—my old friend, fat.

This body has been through the ringer. All bodies have. But you can always find the beauty in the dark. You just have to not give up and keep looking.

Fat, ugh, THAT hideous word.

I can be frank with you. I have NEVER liked you. I have gotten to the point in my recovery journey where sometimes you fall out of memory, but then I look down and see you. You are kind of like that mean relative who I never want to see because you make me feel bad about myself but we are attached by common family so you pop-in every so often. Yes, that would be YOU fat.

“I feel fat.”

“Do I look fat?”

“Gosh, I look fat in these!” I would say your name way too often for many years. To myself, to my family, to anyone I could confide in.

When I first found out I was pregnant, the emotion of thrill was quickly followed by fear. Fear, that I wasn’t strong enough in my eating disorder recovery to handle the weight gain that goes hand-in-hand with pregnancy.  I was finally at a place in my life where I was doing well with my body and now—this would be a huge test.

So fat, as I gained weight with each of my babies I slowly embraced you. I embraced my expanding waist-line with an additional coating of you. I embraced you creeping into my breasts, making me ready to become the family cow. I had to make peace with you.

Fat, you will always be there, a form of excess flesh—protecting my body. Fat, pregnancy made me accept you for what you are, extra padding for this mommy—the strongest kind of woman there is. Extra padding that helps lift my daughters’ one in each arm. Extra padding that gives me the energy and strength to care for them.

This body has been through the ringer. All bodies have. But you can always find the beauty in the dark. You just have to not give up and keep looking.

My children are the beauty I found in the dark. They have helped me accept my body as it is, finding better coping mechanisms. They have reminded me that fat isn’t the enemy—be ridding my body of it, was my way of disappearing, not wanting to be seen. My babies make me want to take up more space and live. In fact, I am afraid to not be here because no one can love them as much as I do.

Pregnancy was the most space I ever took up. And gosh, my body was beautiful– because my babies were inside. This body created them. This body, fat and all. This body, it deserves to be cherished because it does so much.

I look down in the shower at my body.

The water is drip-dropping down my hair, off my nose, down my torso—to my toes covered by a layer of skin—my old friend, fat.  I now more than accept you. I love you for helping me finally find the beauty in the dark—my girls. I am glad I didn’t give up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One More Book

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It starts with one story read each night when you aren’t old enough to read. You listen to the words daddy reads to you, taking it all in, holding onto each word of his deep voice—wanting him to read one more, just one more—because you know that means more time with him. You look at the pictures and you help turn the pages. You cuddle up in the warmth of each other’s bodies.

You don’t see daddy all day, so if he’s home to tuck you in—I know I will see that jack-o’-lantern-light-up-the-room smile form between your cherub cheeks.

“Pumpkin face, it’s time for bed.” I say, picking up some toys off the floor.

“No way!” You demur.

“Look it’s Daddy, and he is going to read you stories.” Then Daddy appears into the room in his work clothes, fresh from rush hour traffic and a stressful day–ready to put on his daddy cape and save the day. He is your superhero.

“Dad-eee!” You screech with glee. Then like you just gave him a secret hand shake or a double thumbs up only you two can see, you walk past me grabbing daddy’s hand to go to your room.  He tells you to pick two books and you do. Then you lay on your big girl bed in daddy’s arms.

Him reading, you listening.

You start getting antsy when you see the last book coming to an end.

“Book, peas,” you say wanting one more, sensing your time together is about to end.

“Okay, just one more,” he answers your raspy plea. You pick one more– and you both dig in.

You like to hear the stories but what you really love is your time with him. You, laying peacefully on his chest. Him, reading to you and making silly voices for different characters. The two of you—laughing, smiling, eyes twinkling at each other.

One day you will get older, and you won’t want to read with daddy. He will be there for other things like life advice, homework help, and to grab you and your friend’s bagels after a sleep over party.

You talking, him listening and vice versa.

When you are sad, he will let you lay peacefully on his chest—and try to make things all better– taking you back to the times when he read to his little girl during story time. When you are happy, he will celebrate you, because your victories will be his. He will always have that twinkle in his eye for you, his little girl. When it comes to you, he will want one more book, one more moment. Always.

Mama Friend I Forgive You

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I overhear a lot of things at my daughter’s classes. And I must say, there is too much complaining amongst mommy-kind about each other. I hear it in whispers, laughs, sometimes anger.  I thought I needed to set the record straight on my opinion about this epidemic. So here it is and this is my take on how I know a mommy friend is a keeper.

You forgot my birthday mommy friend. Don’t worry, I am not counting my presents and making an exclusive invite list to my big birthday bash at a chic high-end restaurant and YOU BETTER BE THERE OR ELSE. I am most likely ordering in dinner with my family and having my two-year old blow out my birthday candles. I too, believe it or not, am not perfect, and get confused about what day of the week, month, it is here in Mamaland—which is a lot like Disneyland in the high probability rate of tantrums that happen, minus the fun rides. Yes, it’s THAT much fun. This means, I more than get why it may slip your mind. In fact, I more than forgive you and probably didn’t even think twice about it.

You made a borderline offensive comment mommy friend.  You made a joke at my expense about my parenting style. How “I am crazy for breastfeeding so long and co-sleeping” but you didn’t mean to. You thought I’d laugh along. People make mistakes. Yes, my feelings were hurt in that moment, but I’ll get over it. I always do.

You didn’t call me back mama friend. You said you were going to, but I never heard back. Now it has been five days and no call back. I am so NOT mad. Come on, I have done the same thing to you. Life gets busy. Trust me, at the end of a long day of changing countless dirty diapers, dancing non-stop to The Wiggles, at least two toddler tantrums, a lot of tears shed, the last thing I want to do is call anyone back, including you (sorry, not sorry). I am in no way holding it against you.

You ignored my text mommy friend. I saw that you read it. IPhone’s can be truth tellers like that. Big deal. It happens.

You had to cancel plans over four times in a row fellow mama—a different excuse each time. I get it, things happen in life. I’ll most definitely do it to you. Even though I won’t mean to.

What is my point with all of this?

Look I know how it is to feel overwhelmed, down, depressed, so sad you feel like you are drowning but you are eyes-wide-open while the water is caving in on you—it’s absolutely terrifying. I know what it is like to be so in the grasps of depressions hands, that it is literally suffocating you and you can hardly breathe. You want to scream but you are underwater so you can’t–thoughts are blurry, self-esteem absent. You can’t see the positive in anything. Your soul is literally drowning. I know how it is to go through really bad times. I think most people once they hit a certain age do.

This is why I take other things into account and overlook these little insignificant things. Because when you go through hard times you realize what truly matters in a friend:

1). You have always been kind to me and my family— genuinely wishing us the best.

2). We always laugh hard together or have good talks.

3) . You are always kind to my kids, treating them like your own.

4). If I needed you, I know you would be there or at least attempt to get there.

In my mind, even if you are just thinking positively about me and my family you are a good friend. Motherhood is hard. There is a whole lot going on at all times—spaghetti on the walls metaphorically and literally. The kids take up 95% of the day. So why would I get rid of you based on being forgetful, a one-off joke, a simple lapse of memory? I wouldn’t.

Everyone’s life is messy-a sprinkling of good and bad times, hopefully the good outweighing the bad most of the time. Everyone is going through something. It may be different degrees of that something but it is still messy, raw, and I am sure hard as heck And on top of that, we are raising children and have their problems at the forefront. That’s a lot to take on!

The world doesn’t owe you anything. Unfortunately, no one does. That’s why when you find another good person or good people, hold on really tight and don’t drop them for insignificant reasons. Motherhood can be lonely. We need each other.

Repeat after me: I ________ forgive my fellow mama friend for the small thing that got me upset and will not drop them or complain to others in my tribe. Understanding breeds understanding, kindness breeds more kindness—and I want us mamas to be each other’s supports instead of knocking each other down for stupid lapses or oversights (Plus, hello momnesia—it’s real!). We are all aboard this mama train for a ride of a lifetime so we might as well chugga chugga choo choo along and stick together.

 

 

Gosh, I will miss that gummy smile

 

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I wake up because I hear your little babbles next to my ear from the bassinet you sleep in at my bedside.  “Bah Bah Bah” your babbles slowly get louder and louder– I hope it’s because you are counting sheep back to bed (hence the Bah), but it’s highly unlikely. You are having a late-night conversation with me. My everything is too tired to participate though my heart knows it’s time for me to check out why you awoke, willing my sleep-ridden body out of bed.

My husband lays to my side. He doesn’t move or notice your loud babbles. Oh, some men. I laugh at the way he plays dead.  I look at my iPhone that flickers 2 AM. “You have to be kidding me” I say mid yawn, I just dream fed you at 11 PM. How could your seven-month-old body still be hungry? Growth spurt?  Or is it your teeth trying to break through your soft gums? Torturing both of us, because I hate to see you in pain even more than the tiredness that comes from these wakeful nights. And gosh I will miss that gummy smile if your teeth are the culprit.

Your babbles get even louder “BAH BAH BAH.” Those sheep must be having a full-on ragger!

I get up and look into your sweet baby browns.

“What’s going on sweet girl?” I say and you smile at me so big and bright, you have a magical twinkle in your eye. I can’t help but smile back at your happiness.

I lift you, taking you down the hall to the playroom where I feed you daily. I marvel at how I can hold you on my left hip. We bounce down the hall in the dark–silence and the beat of the heater fill our house. You feel so good on my side– you are no longer delicate and dainty.

I feed you your bottle and listen to your feeding noises, little gulps and grunts, while staring into your eyes.

As much as I hate these hour and half wake ups that have been going on these past couple of weeks, it is our time. It’s the only alone time we get. As exhausted as I am because we are up early with your big sister—I will always treasure this time. This time, just you and me.

Your sister is demanding with my attention. She is the spicy to your sweet and sugary. She demands the spotlight—a lot of the time taking it from you without even meaning to. Most of the time she does mean to, she’s still a little jealous of you. So baby girl, this is my way of apologizing on her behalf.

The only other time in your life we were alone was hard. You were born a month early and found yourself in the NICU for the first two weeks of your life. It was a tough time. It broke my heart to leave the hospital without you. I never was without your sister for a night until I gave birth to you—but those two weeks I had to leave you in other hands—great ones—but they weren’t my own hands. My hands that love you more than anything on this earth. I don’t think anyone else in this world besides your father can say that.

Now here we are, me and you, alone again. You, still in my hands, but now much bigger. You are not the delicate little baby I held—swaddled up to keep your little body warm. You keep getting bigger and bigger and soon bottles will be replaced by real food and you will want to be more independent, like your sister. So I will embrace these wakeups because they are so short-lived, days go by fast and furious, and I will miss this one day too soon.

After you are done with your bottle, I give you some Tylenol for your maybe-teeth and you talk to me while I pump—making your yummy breakfast.

Then around 3:30 AM we head back to bed. You and me, us–together.

I tuck you in and you smile at me one last time before we close our eyes for the final stretch of the night. Gosh, I will miss that gummy smile.

Stand Up, I Dare You

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I was sitting in Madison Square Garden watching P!NK storm the stage in an all-white ensemble like the angel goddess she is. She even flew in on strings like she was attached to a marionette—but let’s be real, P!NK is her own puppeteer and that’s why she is admired by many. She took my breath away as cheers and loud edgy-pop-inspiration filled the jam-packed arena. Some sections promptly stood up, as if P!NK’s all around magnetism pulled them off of their feet—and it did. Of course, my body had the same reaction, but I held myself back. The problem: I was in the inhibited section where everyone was clapping and bopping their heads in their seats, up and down, like bobble-head dolls, but no one dared to stand up. I would normally feel comfortable in this area being an outgoing introvert.  I can be social and enjoy going out to concerts and interacting with new people at times, but it takes a lot out of me.  It’s really in my moments alone where I am energized and recharged. I am not a live loud and dance like no one Is watching kind of girl by nature.

“Let’s stand up!” My sister-in-law, shouted into my ear over the loud vibrato of P!NK’s magical vocals. I looked around, scoping the area, and found not one person in my section was blockading me and my lack-there-of-dance-moves.  Everyone behind me would bear witness.  I mean, me and my toddler dance to The Wiggles, but I wasn’t sure if all these people would be ready for those kinds of moves.

“I can’t, I am a terrible dancer,” I meekly replied taking a small sip of a cheap chardonnay that tasted like wet cardboard. Thought process: maybe liquid courage would help.

Then there was a voice saying isn’t this what P!NK stands for? Confidence, courage, and being you and not giving a hoot about who approves. I reflected back at five years ago when I was at rock bottom with my eating disorder—listening to P!NK, attempting to empower myself—because I was too weak on my own. That’s what eating disorders do– they numb and stifle you. You are not really living. I survived for way too long afraid of making the wrong move, a misstep, terrified of what people would think.

My advice from years of being a member of the walking dead: You have to put yourself out there and live.

It’s better to be laughed at or rejected than to not try. It’s better to love and get hurt than to be alone. If you don’t take chances and push yourself out of your comfort zone you will never be living and experiencing. And then, what’s the point?

It’s kind of like with motherhood. If you aren’t taking chances and making mistakes in the process, then you aren’t learning, living, and growing as a mom. You learn what works for your child through these missteps and successes by trial and error.

Bottom line: You have to get a little messy to get the overall best results. Get your hands dirty if you will.

When my daughter finger paints, I get such anxiety because finger paint can wind up in her hair (and it does) on her clothes, my clothes, walls of our home. But the reality of the situation: big deal.  She takes a bath and it was a great time. She gets to learn a new creative skill, I have a keepsake, and everyone grows from it.

On that thought, “Funhouse,” started playing and I took my sister-in-law’s hand and said “Let’s stand.” We danced and sashayed to the music as I tried my best not to think about the people around me. Then by “Just Give Me A Reason,” I was dancing with no regard for who was watching.

I don’t want my daughters to stand on the side-lines, observers, of their own life stories like I was for far too long.  I want them to be active participants–living life fully, messily and beautifully. I want them to choose to stand up.

This was why I faced my fears and stood up. And dare you to, too.

Take My Summer Goals Challenge

 

Kylie’s Summer Goals                       My Summer Goals

 

I have been hearing a lot of self-loathing amongst the mommy population lately and I am not liking it. Not liking it one bit. It’s also sad that every single woman can relate to feeling bad about herself at a time, appearance wise—words like frumpy, fat, old, and ugly come to mind. We can all relate, because we have all felt less than.

Yesterday I came across something that saddened me. By the way, Kylie Jenner, I am not blaming you—I am all about woman supporting each other and damn no one with eyes can deny you look hot in that picture (girl knows how to rock a bikini!), but here is my problem with it. I am cold-clocking you hard with my eyes society. It’s that little caption underneath that sexy photo that says “summer goals.” For people that don’t keep up with the Kardashians (pun intended) like me, Kylie just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl Stormi.

I gave birth to a baby girl in September and I am here to counter these “summer goals” with my own and challenge Kylie and moms like her to think outside of their postpartum bods. Being in that place twice, I can say this new body will be the best body Kylie will have yet. This body will feed her baby—nourish her into the thriving sweet girl she will become right before her eyes. This body will be so strong—it will pick up her growing daughter with ease.  The one thing I can guarantee, is that this body, this new body, has never been loved more than she is starting to experience.

It’s time for all new moms to look beyond their bodies for “summer goals.” Happiness and beauty truly come from within. Beauty comes from your mind and creativity.  It comes from how kind you are to others. Kindness toward yourself is something you would want your children to emulate. So please, be kind to yourself. Let’s change how our kids will feel once they have the most wonderful gift in the world, a baby boy or girl.

This summer my goals will be (see picture above):

  • More living in the moment
  • More grandparent time
  • More time appreciating the outdoors
  • More fun play spaces to discover
  • More baby kisses and snuggles
  • Less time getting beaten by a crazy toddler
  • Less morning milk (solve my hyper-lactation problem)
  • More family time
  • More time getting genuine laughs and smiles

So Kylie, when you rock that bikini this summer (and you will), even if you don’t lose a pound, I am telling you it is going to be your favorite body yet because your daughter is going to love it–and you are going to appreciate all that it does–imperfections and all.

What will your “summer goals” collage look like?

Coming Full Circle At A P!nk Concert

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Running on the treadmill, my feet slam up and down, up and down. My hair bounces against my neck. I can hear the machine roar, a symphony of squeaks, whines, and screeches. Once I am in the groove, my running groove, none of that bothers me. Sweat pours down the back of my neck, into my sports bra and against my stomach. I listen to music, and all I do is run, like nothing can stop me—and nothing can. P!nk is blaring in my ears, inspiring me—to keep going like the little recovery engine that could.  I can feel my heart beating loudly, lub-dub, to the music vibrating through my ears, lub-dub. It’s not about calories; it’s about feeling refreshed and alive, at peace.

That was me at twenty-six, getting back into exercise after the weight restoration process of eating disorder recovery where I wasn’t allowed to exercise anything except my jaw muscles by eating copious amounts of food– for months. Listening to P!nk and getting lost in her inspiring words—became my go to on the days where all I wanted to do was hide under the covers and give up. On the days where the demon in my head was telling me I wasn’t good enough, I was out of control, getting fat, a failure, and I couldn’t go on.

Next week I am seeing P!nk  live in concert. Performing upside down on a trapeze, singing her beautiful heart out. Hair a funky Mohawk. Redefining beauty by just being bravely herself.  In a world filled with mimics being an original is the most daring thing at times. It took me a while to come to the realization that we are all a little broken. Once we accept ourselves as is, flaws and all, it will be possible for us to heal and put all the pieces back together—and become who we really are. And P!nk you did a lot for me during the early years of recovery where I was slowly putting the puzzle pieces that are me back together:

Your lyrics helped me change the voices in my head like how you describe in “Perfect”.

Your lyrics made me feel less alone.

Your lyrics made me feel empowered.

Your lyrics helped be rid me of shame.

I have come full circle from being the girl that took up very little space.

The girl who was harboring so much resentment.

The girl who couldn’t express or identify emotions.

The girl whose greatest fear was upsetting people.

The girl who thought that starving and numbing out were the only ways to get by.

I am now a woman who takes up space and owns the space she is in.

I am now a woman who knows who she is and fights for what she believes in.

I am now a woman who is physically and mentally strong.

I am now a woman who is a mother, and above all else a role model to them.

Five year later P!nk is still a pillar of strength to me. Back then, she was everything I was not. Now that I am a more balanced individual, she is everything I am — a woman living her truth, an original copy not afraid of not fitting into the mold—actually aspiring to be different. I will be cheering for that and her at Madison Square Garden. I will also be rocking out for all the people out there finding their own path to recovery in whatever they are going through. You are stronger than you know. And soon you will be fully you.

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