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.

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.

Today I Was Over It

Today I was over it.

My toddler woke up in a mood. While I was pumping she waddled over to my six-month-old in her Rocker and pretended to hit her on the head smiling her mischievous Dennis the Menace smile.

“No, I won’t let you hit the baby.” I said trying to remain calm like Janet Lansbury advises, but getting ready to unhook my polka-dot-Minnie-mouse inspired pumping bra and take action knowing my toddler all too well. She smiled at me again, and hit the baby’s head harder–the baby’s face starting to scrunch up to cry. Okay, Janet, this is where I couldn’t give no reaction anymore.

“That’s it!” I took off the bra, liquid gold spilling everywhere, and swooped her up placing her in her purgatory— time out.

Today I was over it.

I was over the fight to put her diaper on after her bath. Her little kicks into my stomach every time I got close to her and her screams because diaper changes are the worst thing you can do to someone, don’t you know?

 Today I was over it.

When we switched rooms, my toddler ran down the hall instead of to the playroom where we usually convene. Her little body moving from side to side– while I ran after her, baby cuddled into my chest. I caught up to her by the stairs and grabbed her little hand as she tried to pull it away because once you turn two you are totally independent. Turning to bolt again, I forced her up—the toddler in one arm, the baby in the other. We walked down the hall like this.

Today I was over it.

The outfit changes. The baby had a poop explosion while I was feeding her this morning. Mustardy poop covered my shirt and the baby’s clothes. Then I went to art class with my toddler, blue paint covering outfit number two by the time she was midway through finger painting.

Today I was over it.

Always having to have my shit together. Getting the bottles prepped, everyone changed, bathed, cleaned—out the door on time. Not having any time for myself.

Today I was over it.

When bedtime approached I was so relieved. After putting them both down I got into bed myself to unwind when five minutes later I heard through the monitor a cry from the toddler’s room. I ran down the hall, feet pounding like a dinosaur.

“What baby?” I asked as I entered the room.

She gave me a soft hug saying “tissue tissue” as salty snot dripped from her button nose. I wiped. “Book, book. Please.” Please! Just like I had been teaching her…

“Okay just one.” I grabbed the one on top of the pile.

I read her The Very Hungry Caterpillar as she turned the pages.

“Thank you mommy,” she said in her sweet husky voice.

“Your welcome baby.” I kissed her forehead, placing the blanket over her lower half, the shushers’ soothing sound playing in the background. I closed the door.

I heard soft cries come in echoes “neh, neh” from the baby’s room across the hall. NOOOOO. I ran back down the hall, as I tried to decipher the meaning behind the cry—maybe she lost her pacifier? Then I saw her scrunched up face. All she needed was to see me, her mommy, and her frown turned into a magnetic smile as I couldn’t help but smile back at her sweet little face. As I stroked her little head, she leaned to the side, falling right back to sleep.

That’s when I knew

Today I was over it but I am never over both of you.

You are my heart.

F You Mickey Mouse

IMG_0083There I was waiting to eat breakfast with my family at the Royal Table in the postcardesque Cinderella’s castle. My toddler warmly smiled at a woman dressed elegantly in a light blue ball gown. Her blonde hair was pulled up in a high tight bun and her pink shadowed eyelids had long black lashes dueling as fans making her blue eyes pop. I swear I felt a magically refreshing breeze cool down my face-how Disney! Cinderella just finished ballroom dancing with a forty-five year old man to my husband’s complete horror—how not Disney and poor Cinderelly!

“What a creep,” he whispered to me, as I shushed him.

“Ella” my toddler screeched reaching out to give her favorite Disney princess a hug as the forty-five year old walked away happy as a clam that he got to be prince charming for five minutes.

We were in Disney for my daughter’s second birthday and this was the reaction I was so hoping for. Though my inner feminist wasn’t digging her recent obsession with Disney princesses’ this was what this trip was all about. This moment, like in the Disney commercials where your child is so in awe of her surroundings. Then getting that perfect photo and everything—the expensive price tag, the travel, the exhaustion— becomes worth it.

“What a sweet little mouse you are,” Cinderella mused as she swooped my “little mouse” up into her arms with her white gloves as flashes from a professional camera captured the picture perfect moment. My sweet five-month-old was cooing on in the background like Cinderella’s doting humming birds. HA-wouldn’t this be great…

Instead, this was the scene.

My daughter, terrified of Cinderella, refused to take a picture while my five-month-old was hysterical for her bottle—plugged her—then we looked on at my toddler freaking out as Cinderella tried to make nice with said now rabid mouse toddler. My toddler had a cold/cough coupled with her two-year-old molars coming in, turning her into a complete demon in need of an exorcism five minutes ago since our arrival. My boobs were starting to throb from how full they were. So after the initial chaos when we sat down to order food, it was time for mommy to be milked! I handed off my five-month old to Mimi. I then took my pump to a bathroom stall, pumping on the not so royal or clean floor of the castle bathroom. I worried about my tribe at the table while listening to the soft rhythm of the pump. When I left them the toddler still wasn’t feeling so hot. Ten minutes later and an entire new bottle filled (I have an oversupply problem), I packed up my pump and headed into the castle dining area to meet my family.

I saw my five-month-old with big doe eyes smiling at me, like the sweet happy baby she is.

Then my mom interrupted my delight, “Dan, I think Diana had an explosion.” I grabbed her into my arms and saw mustardy colored poop lining my mother’s zip up sweatshirt and Diana’s pants. Shit.

I carried her back to the bathroom and put her down on the changing table searching my bag for the change of clothes I packed her this morning.

“I swear I put it in here.” I muttered to myself digging through the diaper bag contents: NeatCheeks, wipes, WubbaNub. Not there. My husband decided to re-organize my diaper bag the leading cause of divorce I hear and accidently left it out.

With that realization, I took her pants, wiping them off trying to save them, as I had some choice words for my husband circulating in my head. Then as that was going on, my mom came into the bathroom with my hysterical toddler. I quickly finished changing/dressing the baby and switched with my mom as I took my toddler and gave her motrin. I then escorted my toddler around the room trying to find distractions, “look Viv another princess” to calm her down until the motrin kicked. Let’s just say I didn’t touch the oatmeal I ordered and all I wanted to do was get the hell out of this Mickey filled hell. Oh and this was the first day of our trip.

I mean nothing is ever this perfect Disney, I see right through you. I don’t trust a place that has no insects except butterflies. So here are the top three reasons why after this vacation I want to look Mickey Mouse dead in the face and say “F you, you stupid rodent.”

1). Pumping was more annoying AF than usual.

Okay Disney, I do appreciate that you have Baby Care Centers but it would be helpful if you had more of them. I wasn’t going to go all the way across the park just to pump. Hello, waste of time. So I found myself pumping on many bathroom floors. I carried my pump with a battery and my nursing bra and set up shop wherever I could. I pumped in many bathrooms, sitting in many bathroom stalls, missing meals because after I got back to the table someone needed me for a diaper change, bottle feed, to be rocked to sleep, a break down. “So Mickey F you for making me miss your delicious and way too expensive meals because I was pumping.”

2). My toddler is now a Demon.

Disney, my toddler came back from vacation a complete dick. I even caught myself explaining these asshole symptoms to the nurse when I got her a recheck for her cold/cough when we got back.

“It seems that her behavior has changed too. So either she has an ear infection or she came back from vacation a complete dick.” Shit did I say that? Yes I did, and guess what? No ear infection…

She was so used to go, go, go and getting her way, because there were way too many people (Mimi, Papa, Auntie, Dad…) making excuses for her bratty behavior and mommy was too busy on baby duty to discipline—wearing her in the Bjorn the whole freaking trip because she hates the car seat. Oh, on that note Disney you owe me a chiropractor. Now that we are back and my bratty toddler doesn’t get her way she throws a fit of epic proportions—kicking, screaming and crying. “So Disney F you for changing my daughter for the worse. I know this will be short lived because I am nipping it in the butt as we speak, but for making me even have to temporarily deal with this evil Demogorgon. F you!”

3). Driving me to the drink.

So Mickey, ever since my second daughter was born I have found myself sober because wine in small doses and large doses but I don’t want to talk about that makes me nauseous plus I am pumping, waking up to feed at night and find it easier when I am not completely shit faced/ hate wasting precious breast milk A.K.A. dumping. Well after a long day filled with breakdowns, no naps or routine, snot, too much walking, and way too many tears my new ‘tude was bring on the vino. When the girls were finally sleeping, my husband would go up to the concierge floor and get himself a beer and me a nice big glass of wine–and I drank up, oh Mickey, I drank up. “So Mickey, F you for not only driving me to the drink, but making it harder for me to wake up in the middle of the night and the early morning to start the day because of it. I blame you completely!”

So Disney, next time you play your enticing commercials in front of my daughters, know that I, Dani Sherman-Lazar, am on to your rouse. I am exposing you so the next mom will know to stay clear and just say “no” to your promise of visiting the happiest place on earth. Okay, I will most likely be back next year, so the real F you is on me. But until then, and until your kids sucker you in too, all you moms out there hold on tight to your credit cards and sanity and join me in a big F you to the leader of the Disney World cult, Mickey eff-in Mouse!

 

 

First Born I See You Completely Always

IMG_2940             I see my daughter entertaining herself, playing with a plastic car—up and down a toy ramp. Then she purposely knocks the ramp on the floor taking out two puzzle sets with it…BOOM. The baby startles herself out of her milk coma, eyes so wide she resembles a pop eyes out squeeze toy mid squeeze.

“Viv, please don’t throw your toys on the floor!” I sigh with frustration, looking at the mess she made on the floor.

She then hands me her sticker book and I am struggling with one hand to pull the sticker off while feeding the baby with the other–my four month olds body cradled into my chest. My toddler gets frustrated and says, “st-i-i-i-cker, st-i-i-i-cker,” not understanding I am trying my very best to get said “st-i-i-i-cker”. I finally get it off. Before I can pat myself on the back—that is, if I had hands to– she wants another. Crap.

I see my daughter trying to get my attention while I am pumping. She holds onto my back hugging it tightly and chanting, “boobies, boobies, boobies.”

I see her during music class wanting to get thrown around while we dance like we used to— she likes to rough house– but I can only pick her up and rock her back and fourth on my hip because I have the baby on my chest.

This is why when we are alone I soak up every second.

I leave my phone in the car and give her my 100 percent attention. She has rarely gotten it since the day her little sister was born. We went from a duo to a trio. She became a reluctant third musketeer—she didn’t ask for this new squad we became.

So I am the mom playing in the balls with her, her little playmate. We go down the slides together, side-by-side, holding hands into the multicolored ball pit. “Red, yellow, green-e, blue,” my daughter goes through her repertoire like it’s Joseph’s Technicolor dream coat—full of so many colors, and it is—it’s her dream coat because she has mommy’s full attention in that colorful ball pit.

I am the mom that crawls into the tunnel when my daughter bossily points to it saying “do it, do it,” because there are so many things I can’t do with her when I am taking care of her sister at the same time. I reluctantly army crawl in as my daughter laughs on–my body flat like a pancake while my arms and legs struggle to propel myself forward. When I get through I am out of breath and then I hear my daughter’s loud cackle while giving me a hug—“momm-eee hug-eee”—It was worth it.

I am the mom that chases my daughter around when she says “catch you” which sounds a lot like cashew, but that’s besides the point. I know she wants me to chase her around saying “I am going to catch you.” I do and when I catch her, I flip her upside down and tickle her little tummy, as she lets out the cutest belly laugh.

As much as I love our family of four and plan to have more, there is something sad about not having as much one-on-one time with my first-born.

So oldest daughter please know I see you and I love you. You will always be my first and for that I am grateful. You taught me how special motherhood can be, because you are so special. You taught me how much I could love another human being. You made me want to have more like you because I love you that much. And just because you think I am not paying 100 percent attention, know that I am. I see you completely–always.