Posts tagged with mom:
Yesterday Isobel was in a terrible mood when I picked her up. None of the kids had napped well and just as I arrived, she and another girl were sprinting and slammed face first into each other. I anticipated a really teary ride home and sure enough, as soon as I buckled her in, she started doing a half-cry/half-whine. At a stop light, I reached back to grab her hand. I’ve noticed she will calm down more easily if I hold her hand and rub the back of it. She did calm down and then she saw a bird and a truck and all was well…until I tried to take my hand away.
"HANDS. I have hands?"
I reached back and she grabbed my hand again. I waited until she saw something else to distract her and tried to take my hand back.
I snaked my arm back around again. She gripped it tightly. I had to drive the whole way home holding her hand.
It’s nice to have someone holding your hand at the end of a rough Monday. I get it.
Dips are the bane of my existence. Isobel wants something dippable with every single meal. She loves a dip. If she does not have a dip, she will find something that will work as a dip. If I am eating something that resembles a dip and she does not have any, she will get very angry.
We ordered pizza over the weekend and I got my usual mixing bowl-sized salad and we were all watching Doc McStuffins, chomping away, and Isobel realized I had something different.
She leans over to look at my bowl.
I freeze. There is horror. She thinks my salad and the dressing is one giant dip. She does not have this dip. She has pizza. Wait a second! She has pizza. Why would she want my salad when she has pizza? Please don’t let her want my salad. I want this salad. She will eat all the feta and leave none for me. MY SALAD.
"DIPS?" She holds out the crust of her pizza toward my bowl. She wants to dip her crust into my salad dressing. I oblige. She dips the crust, eats it happily. Then she notices my salad contains…
"That one? That one?" She points at my olives. I scoop them out onto her plate. Then she wants my fork. I hand it over. She peers at my bowl, seeing what other delicious tidbits may be contained in this Bowl of Dips and she then decides to sample everything. She’s got the fork, after all. She spears lettuce, tomato, olives, feta.
"Mmmmmm!" She says, triumphant. "Dips!"
"Can I have some?" I ask.
She hands me her half-gnawed slice of pizza.
When I dropped Iz off at daycare the other day, one of the teachers told me I had to see something. She goes over to the classroom iPod player thing and puts on What Does the Fox Say. Now, remember—it is about 7:50 AM. The other kids in the classroom are sitting at the table and eating breakfast. But when that song comes on, Isobel completely freaks.
She starts feeling the music in a way that I haven’t seen since the Let It Go from Frozen/MAMA’S A BUTTERFLY fiasco. She’s throwing herself around the room. She’s jumping. She’s doing interpretive dance. Hand motions, hair flips. And she’s singing the lyrics.
The other kids are still eating. Isobel is launching herself into the air yelling, “WAPAPOW POW POW.”
She takes a break from singing to focus on her dance moves, and then at the “your fur is red, so beautiful, like an—” part, she screams—at the top of her lungs—ANGEL IN DISGUISE.
We recently weaned Isobel off the paci. It was overdue but we had still let her use it for naps and at night. Then she started getting very territorial (Milo stole it once and she ran after him shrieking, “MIWO A PACI MIWO A PACI NO MIWO NO”) and we knew it was time.
Our pediatrician had told us that the best way he’s found is to snip the ends of the paci and then cut it shorter and shorter until the kid realizes it’s basically useless and they forget about it. “It usually takes two or three days,” he said.
Two or three days MY ASS.
Anyway, we snipped paci on Day One. It wasn’t a very big snip, but I gave it to her right before bed and said, “Uh oh, it looks like paci is getting yucky!”
She put it in her mouth and clenched it between her teeth. The next morning, it was still clenched.
Holy shit, I thought, she’s not playing around.
We snipped it shorter that night—short enough that she couldn’t really hold it between her teeth. I gave it to her at bed. “Paci looks yucky,” I said. She took it and tried to make it work. She tried off to the side, then the other side, then clenched. She took it out and handed it to me. “Paci yucky.” She looks around her room. “Where’s a paci?”
"Here it is," I said. I handed her back the same one. She pushes my hand away.
"Nooooooooo. Noooooooo. Paci, paci, paci."
I put her to bed. Predictably, she screamed. Angrily. It wasn’t crying. I doubt there were even tears. That lasted about 10 minutes. At first we were horrified and tense (we haven’t had to deal with crying at bedtime in a long, long time), but as it kept going, we couldn’t help it. We’re going to hell for this, but we both started laughing. It was a full-on temper scream. If she had known to curse, she would have been saying:
"FUCK YOU ALLLLLLLL I’LL GET YOU FOR THIS"
That’s basically what she was saying, except just screams. And then she’d talk to herself and walk around a bit and come back to the door and remind us about how we’d just ruined her life.
The next few nights were less…angry, but she remembered paci. At every turn, “Paci? Paci yucky.” It’s like she was testing us. Is paci REALLY yucky? Are you SURE? Because I remember a time when paci was not yucky. Do you? Do you remember?
It’s now been about two weeks.
She’s doing really good, but she still talks about it. First thing in the morning. “Paci yucky.” As we get her into the car, “Paci yucky.”
A few days ago she started saying this weird thing.
"What color is paci? Blue."
I heard her say it at least a dozen times. I told Brandon about it.
I was 99% convinced she had a blue paci hidden somewhere in her room. I wanted to train Milo to be a Paci Sniffer dog. I told Brandon that this is what parents must feel like hunting for weed in the back of smelly teenage closets. Where’s the damn paci, Isobel? I TOLD YOU NOT TO HANG OUT WITH THE KIDS WHO HAVE PACIS. Anyway, I scoured her crib area. I looked in her drawers, her dollhouse, her kitchen. I checked under her changing table and in the corners of the chair.
Then I spotted the bedside table. Could it really be that easy? I opened the top drawer.
A blue paci.
I think she’s just fucking with us now.
Hello. We had a baby a few months ago. Do you have any suggestions for books about keeping the marriage on track after a baby? Also, can you keep the name anonymous? My husband is very private. Thanks!!
I wish I had more for you. I wish I could list 10 books that helped but I can’t. I can give you just one really good recommendation: All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior. (My review is here.) The portions about why couples can fracture post-baby was the first time I read anything that mirrored my own feelings and experiences.
(I’m going to go off on a tangent here for a second so feel free to skip.)
- I’m always careful to toe the line between privacy and openness here on my blog and this post is no exception. Marriage dynamics post-baby are very tricky. I think that’s why no one talks about it. Well, almost no one. You see a million “DH is a deadbeat, I’m divorcing him tomorrow!!!!” posts on mom message boards (Babycenter, ahem). But if you look to other online communities—Instagram, Facebook, whatever—you’ll hardly ever see anyone write anything of substance about marriage post-baby. And you’ll never, ever see a prominent mom blogger discuss it unless they mention it briefly and then tritely wrap it up with how they are still so in love, and the partner is so supportive. Somehow protecting a brand is synonymous with perfect marital happiness. Other difficult, private things can be discussed, but the marriage relationship must never be examined thoughtfully. The result of this is a lot of women that look they are in perfect marriages with perfect guys that do perfect things to support their perfect home and perfect clothes and perfect meals. I used to read these blogs and go I HAVEN’T SHOWERED IN 5 DAYS HOW CAN YOU MAINTAIN THIS FLAWLESS FACADE. And I still don’t know how they do it. I don’t.
- However, I’ve determined that there may be a “type” of marriage that can navigate the first year of the first child with a minimum of external tension. That marriage is a more traditional one. In a heterosexual partnership that adheres to traditional gender roles PRE-BABY, there is already an expectation that the male will do traditionally male things and the female will do traditionally female things. And post-baby, the traditionally female things will include the bulk of childcare. (Maybe all the childcare.) It probably also includes cooking, cleaning, organizing, doctor’s appointments, shopping. It may also include bills and finances. In this case, in this more traditional marriage, there is a clear expectation of what is expected from both parties long before the baby is born. Therefore, it’s no big surprise when baby arrives and Mom assumes the bulk of childcare. Dad is comfortable with his role, Mom is comfortable in her role. Tension is minimal because the expectations of child-rearing have been established for a long time. Maybe since the couple met.
- So where does that leave other partnerships or marriages? In our case, my husband and I both worked full-time. We evenly split household duties, chores and responsibilities. How post-modern of us! How progressive!
- But, holy shit, when Isobel was born, it’s like the world was turned completely upside down. I think Brandon expected to assume more of the childcare than he could do or that I would let him do. (That last one is key.) For my side, I expected him to anticipate and complete every single possible task that could be related to childcare on any given day. (DOESN’T HE KNOW THE BABY NEEDS A BATH) Then, I’d want to do those tasks myself anyway because I could do them faster, better. I was angry at myself for not giving him more space to carve out a place in the household and I was angry at him for not insisting on it. We were both frustrated at the traditional marriage/gender roles that we slipped into, almost immediately.
- There are some extraneous things that really affect the way this plays out. Maternity/paternity leaves, for example. Brandon used vacation time to take almost two weeks off. I took a very short maternity leave and then juggled baby and full-time work from home until she was about 12 months old. Two weeks wasn’t enough time for dad to grow accustomed to the schedule and rigor of newborn care. Additionally, it’s difficult for Dad to wrap his brain around helping with a 3 am feeding when he’s got to be up at 6 am for a 12 hour work day. If we had started Isobel in daycare when she was an infant (which I would absolutely do if we ever had a second child), I think that could have helped with some of the issues that arose. I was trying to be a hero to too many people and I ended up being nothing but a failure to myself.
- Another thing that really contributed to the traditional gender role tension—and is something that I almost never see discussed—is the way that breastfeeding changes the childcare dynamic. I breastfed for about 8 months (though I was only nursing in the morning and before bed by the last few weeks). I would breastfeed again. But fuck, I wish someone had told me what to expect. I don’t know what I was thinking, but for some reason my brain did not process the fact that I would be assuming the bulk of the night wakings and feedings. I had intermittent trouble with my supply and struggled to stash enough away for bottle feedings at night (which Brandon could have helped with). I also waited a long time to give a bottle in general. It was just long enough for both of us to have accepted that if the baby cried at night, I would go. And frankly, I was so highly attuned to the crying, that even if he’d helped, I would have had trouble going back to sleep. It was a very fragile, sensitive time for me. I had difficulty sleeping, difficulty waking, difficulty moving through my day. It was a fog. Anyway, my advice to moms who are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed is that they establish ahead of time a list of tasks that the partner can accomplish since they may not be taking the night shift much at all. This could include: Making breakfast, keeping on top of the laundry, 15-20 minutes for Mom in the morning to shower, running errands for Mom before or after work (or during lunch break). If you are able to stash enough breast milk so dad can assist with a bottle at night, get earplugs, use an eye mask and kick him out of bed to do go it. Every single night. That might get you an extra 2-3 hours of sleep per night. That is A LOT. These are all things I wish I’d thought about before giving birth, because by the time the issues were actually happening, we were both too tired and overwhelmed to make logical, helpful decisions in ways that would have been beneficial to us both.
- It was really difficult for me to ask Brandon for help. It was difficult for him to ask what I needed help with. This stalemated the situation and created a vicious cycle of inactivity and resentment and echoed a lot of what I read in All Joy and No Fun too. We both just wanted a few minutes to ourselves. The difference was that I felt I had to ask permission or ask for assistance in order to take that time. Ugh, it’s a mess, huh? I noticed that I sometimes thought of Brandon more like a babysitter (“Can you watch Isobel for 30 minutes so I can go get a pedicure?”) instead of my husband and her father (“I’m going to go get a pedicure, there is a bottle in the fridge, Bye!”). This was frustrating for Brandon too. When we look back on this time, we’re both irritated by how little we communicated about our frustrations and how easily we slipped into tired cliches. (They’re cliches for a reason, I guess.) He didn’t like that I would be like, “Are you sure you’re okay to watch her while I go to the grocery store for 10 minutes?” He’d think, well, she must not trust me to be a very good dad! And I’m thinking to myself, I wish he’d noticed we needed groceries! Finding a way to reconcile the way we used to split household responsibilities with all the new childcare responsibilities was challenging.
- I don’t have a magical piece of advice that can string all of this together. But what I can tell you is that although I don’t know the specifics of your situation, I can sympathize with your general question. I’ve been there. We’ve been there. It was difficult for us to translate an equal marriage (in terms of us having a dual-income household that we held equal responsibility for) into equal parenting. The silver lining here is that once we pushed through the difficult months and sat down to discuss our individual issues, our relationship improved. A lot. We felt stronger and happier for having had to navigate through this major life change together.
- I hope you’re still reading given that I kind of blacked out and just typed 10 paragraphs. :/
- You’ve got this. Now go for a pedicure!
I’ve never been someone that was great with kids. I’d be introduced to a little kid and I’d smile and be like, “How are you doing today?”
So yeah, I think everyone that knew me was surprised at how mushy I got after Isobel was born. My sister would laugh at me and poke fun at the “new mom Jackie” that cried at sappy TV commercials and changed diapers one-handed and talked about parenting books. I laughed at myself too. I thought it was crazy how I went from being completely UMM I’M OKAY (TERROR) when an offer to hold a baby came up to OH BOY BABIES LET’S CHAT ABOUT SLEEP TRAINING AND DIAPERS.
But lest you think I was cured entirely, you should know that I am still moderately awkward around kids. Sometimes when I get Iz from daycare, other kids run over and try to give me hugs or have me pick them up. In these situations I’m all RESCUE ME PLZ HELP or, “Oh, hello little child with a rudimentary understanding of the English language, how are you today?” and I want to smack myself in the forehead because I am The Worst at interacting with kids. It makes me feel horrible because it shouldn’t be this hard! These kids are EXACTLY like Isobel (but they’re not Isobel)—so I freeze. I have to think about my next steps.
Let me back up because I don’t want this to seem like I was always comfortable around Isobel and that I became some uber-Mom-type the instant she was born because that’s not true. I think some things come naturally right off the bat (hormones! evolution! thanks!), but once the hormonal high settled down, I was occasionally completely out of my league. For example, I had trouble getting situated with Iz to breastfeed properly. I had my elbows out, splayed, arms crisscrossed, baby sideways, then nearly upside down, WELL WHAT IF I JUST HOVER OVER HER. I thought it was hilarious when someone would suggest I breastfeed in public the first few months. Oh, okay, that would be swell except I physically cannot do it unless I am sitting in my special glider chair with my special pillow and my special privacy because I will need to be completely topless because I am the most uncoordinated person on the planet.
None of this really occurred to me, though—the extent to which I am still a little awkwardsauce when it comes to mom things—until recently when Isobel became A Person. Up until several months ago, she was most definitely A Baby, though a more toddler-like version of A Baby. But now! NOW! This is A Person. A Person can ask for what she wants and say what she does not want. A Person understands inside jokes, makes his or her own jokes and can pat me on the back and say, “It’s okay, Mommy.” I have A Small Person now and it is the most fantastic thing in the entire world.
I wax nostalgic often about the infant days or the baby milestones, but let’s just clear this up once and for all: Nothing can beat the moment when A Baby becomes A Person. When Isobel was younger and didn’t sleep and cried all day, I would sit, holding her, my entire body tense, tears falling all over her, her tears falling all over me and I would think, “Holy shit, I can’t wait until she’s old enough to snuggle on the couch with me and we can watch a movie and eat popcorn together.”
THAT was the ultimate dream. How silly is that? But that’s what I decided would determine when I had A Person.
She does that now, you know. She’ll sit on my lap or beside me on the couch, and we’ll snuggle under a blanket and eat some popcorn and watch a movie. She does it with me! We do it together! We are enjoying activities together.
(This is not to say that toddlers aren’t capable of dickishness, because Isobel could write the book on the most epic tantrums, the most sneaky sneakiness, the most ill-behaved escapades. She has been referred to as stubborn, high-spirited, intense, independent and fearless. These are nice toddler synonyms for HIGH NAUGHTY POTENTIAL—HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS.)
But I am really enjoying this 2-years-old (and change) version of Isobel. I like when she reaches up to grab my hand while we’re walking. I like when I walk around the corner and she says “MOMMY!” and smiles. I like playing stickers or letting her “read” to me instead of the other way around. I like that her favorite foods are all my favorite foods. (Or is it that my favorite foods are all I feed her? Too deep, let’s move on.)
Honestly, before I was a mom, I wasn’t sure what kind of mom I’d be. When I was pregnant, I became worried that I wouldn’t be attached enough by the time she was born. (Or that she would be born and I would still feel removed and weird and awkward.) After she was born, I did still feel awkward sometimes and it took some time before I settled into a comfortable place with my new role, but there was a lot of relief too.
I would think, “Phew. I’m not a shit mom after all!”
And then, of course, I’d do something shitty to wreck all those self-congratulatory vibes. The funny thing about motherhood, though, is that you get really good at rolling with the punches. Vomit in my hands? Sure. Poop on my shirt? Why not. I did something stupid or shitty? I’ll do better next time.
I may not ever be good with all kids and I might always feel their beady judging eyes upon me as I stumble and stammer, trying to figure out how to interact with a child who is not my own, but I know now—more than ever—that I have successfully raised A Baby into A Person and she is a REALLY COOL PERSON. And you know what? I’m pretty confident that she thinks I’m cool too—which is super great, because I have approximately 10 years until that changes.
On Saturday I was putting away laundry in our room and Isobel likes to sit at my desk and pretend she’s me (she scowls and bangs on my keyboard, very accurate). I pulled up Kevin Bacon’s intro dance number for The Tonight Show for her. It was a huge mistake.
15 plays later. “DANCE! AGAIN? AGAIN!” She was dancing in my seat. All I could see was her head bobbing and weaving over my computer. A few minutes later, it ended. Again. “DANCE!” I will never get that song out of my head.
Speaking of never getting songs out of my head: After the Oscars, I thought it would be brilliant (hahahahaha) to show Iz the Let It Go song on my iPhone. She was in a bad mood and I am a technology briber. That’s how it started.
FIRST OF ALL, what is it with this song? It is like kid crack. It is instantaneous addiction. Eyes glazing over. Body uncontrollably dancing. She was obsessed. After the 5th time it played, Mama had had QUITE ENOUGH of Let It Go and tried to hide the phone. So the rat found the iPad. “More?” JFC. OKAY. So I played it again.
This is the point where I made a crucial mistake. I was wearing a long drapey cardigan thing and as Iz grabbed hands to make me dance around the room with her (MY SOUL IS SPIRALING IN FROZEN FRACTALS), I held each side of my cardigan like wings and said, “I’m a butterfly!”
Iz stared. Eyes widened. Breath quickened. I could see the wheels turning. (She loves butterflies.) BUTTERFLY! I had to flap around the living room until the song ended. I sat down. She came over to me, handed me my phone (which had been found at this point). “Butterfly?” She held up my cardigan. I played the damn song again, did the butterfly act. I had now heard this song and flapped around like a butterfly approximately 3,000 times and I needed some water, so when her back was turned, I folded up the cardigan and ran upstairs to put it on our bed. I was able to distract her with food upon returning and all was quiet (THE PAST IS IN THE PAST) for the next hour or so.
After eating, Isobel decided to go upstairs. I followed her a minute later and she met me at the top of the stairs. Holding my cardigan.
Iz has started to read/pretend-read during our nightly books-before-bed session. This is very cute. Usually she lets me pick the books (a task I find very gratifying), but last week there was one night that she was very insistent on picking the book. I hold one out for her. “This one?” She shakes her head. “This one?” No. So I finally found one that she wants. She snuggles in. We’re very cozy. Then Brandon pokes his head in the door. He wants to give her a kiss goodnight. WELL. Iz is not having that. He missed his window. We’re reading now, Dad. No time for this. He leans in to give her a kiss and she flits him away. Back to the book. I jokingly say to him, “We’re reading here Dada!” And she looks up at him and says, dismissively, “Bye.”
Last night Iz found a bag of puzzle pieces under our coffee table. It was unopened. I heard her banging the bag of puzzle pieces around and I vaguely remember Brandon saying something to her about it but I was paying 0.00001 percent attention. Which is why, about five minutes later, Iz brought me the bag of 500 puzzle pieces and I opened it for her. Brandon is horrified.
"WHY DID YOU DO THAT?"
I was a little taken aback. Well, excuse me sir, but she wants to play with the pieces, I am not doing this puzzle currently, I see no reason for such outrage! So I said:
"She wanted to play with them! What’s wrong with opening it?"
Brandon stares at me like I am the most stupid person.
"If we lose JUST ONE of the pieces, we will NEVER BE ABLE TO COMPLETE THAT PUZZLE."
I start laughing. A lot. This does not go over well.
"Seriously, can you imagine if we do this puzzle and there is one piece we can’t find?"
So I think to myself: Holy shit, he’s really serious about this puzzle thing. I say out loud: “Oh, we’ll find them all when she’s done.”
She proceeds to dump them over her head and say, “Rain!” It’s cute.
A little later, I put Iz to bed and Brandon is cleaning up The Puzzle in the living room. I make some joke about the puzzle pieces, but I can tell he’s relieved to have them safely tucked away. The night proceeds routinely.
Then, as I’m getting ready for bed, I happen to glance in the bathtub. Her sponge alphabet letters and numbers are scattered around, but in the corner, semi-hidden from view is a lone puzzle piece.
I laugh maniacally inside. (Basically a “MWAHAHAHAHA” type thing.) I’m not telling him about it.
Isobel now calls me Mommy more than she calls me Mama. It’s adorable and it fascinates me because I never refer to myself as Mommy. (Ever—not for any particular reason, I just don’t.) Where did she pick this up? Goddamn, they’re sponges at this age. Speaking of which:
I need to watch the cursing in front of Child Sponge. This is fucking difficult for me because I am an asshole and can’t seem to fucking stop but I am doing much fucking better.
Curse Watch 2014 reminds me of when Isobel started naming body parts last year. Brandon came to me one day and was like, “Did you teach Isobel to call me an ass?” I laughed because WHO WOULDN’T, but he was dead serious. “I’m serious. She pointed at me and said ‘ass.’” I was laughing so hard that even I would have suspected myself at that point but I reassured him that no, I did not hold photos of him in front of Isobel and repeat: “That’s an ass,” or whatever he thought I was doing. Later that day he was changing her diaper and I was in the room and she pointed at his face and said, “ASS!” He looked at me with round eye horror and righteous indignation. “SEE! I TOLD YOU!” But he was wrong. She was saying “eyes” (badly). He still didn’t believe me until I pointed to my eyes and asked her what they were. ASS!
Isobel’s public tantrums are epic. She growls like a wild animal and in that moment—where I see the gleam in her eyes and the scream starting to build in her throat—I hear (in my head) a combination of madly clanging alarm bells and the opening music of Game of Thrones. WHAT HAST THOU BROUGHT INTO THIS WORLD, WOMAN? WHAT IS THIS CREATURE, FOR THIS CANNOT BE YOUR SWEET BABE WHO LAID UPON YOUR BREAST AND WOULD NEVER HAVE THOUGHT TO KICK YOU IN THE STOMACH
The things I love most about Isobel—her curiosity, her fearlessness, her strong-willed nature—are the things that make her an absolute terror when she sets her mind to it. I did an experiment recently while my mom and I were with her at Target. She was screaming to get out of the shopping cart (DAMN CHARIOT OF TRAPPED-NESS, LET ME LOOSE) so I said to my mom, “Okay, let’s see what she does. I’ll follow behind her.” I wanted to see if she would wander away, realize I wasn’t right behind her and return out of a normal human instinct for comfort and shelter. I set her on the ground and she speeds off like a bat out of hell, headed straight for god-knows-where, with me hot on her heels but staying just far enough back that I could observe without interfering with the natural process of…of what? OF MY KID NOT CARING WHERE I AM IN THE SLIGHTEST? Basically, yes. She did not stop or turn around once to check where I was. She said hi to two strangers (JFC) who looked at me with amusement and pity (JFC) and went along her merry way, inspecting the Target aisles, enjoying her freedom with zero concern for her personal safety. After trapping her using a combination of snacks, books and various other bribes, I realized that this is a child I will never stop watching. I will be the helicopter mom with stealth helicopter technology, always hovering nearby—quietly, carefully—because she is a willful and seemingly cunning kid. A kid who thinks she can outsmart and outrun me. I know this kid, because I was that kid too. So I will watch. I AM ALWAYS WATCHING.
- If you make a raptor sound (a la the Jurassic Park raptors), she will say IT’S A DINOSAUR!
- If you howl, she will say IT’S A WOOF (wolf, close enough)
- If you say WAPAPAPAPAPAPOW, she will say IT’S A FOX!
- If you tell her to “say you’re sorry” after she’s disobeyed, she says, “I’m sorry. It’s okay. It’s okay.”
- If you show her a picture of me and her after she’s just been born she says, “It’s Mommy. It’s Isobel.”
My kid turned 2 a month ago. About a week ago I weighed myself—something I don’t do very often—and I crossed the 70 lbs lost since pregnant threshold. I didn’t feel proud and I didn’t feel excited and I didn’t feel any of the things that I assumed I’d feel when I saw a number on the scale that I haven’t seen since I was probably 20.
I felt pretty sad actually. Because when I was pregnant I bought into the breastfeeding helps you lose weight stuff. (It’s not really true.) And I thought that I was relatively fit (relatively) and it would come off relatively fast and I’d relatively deal with it. (It didn’t.) I thought that once Isobel turned one that the passage of time—365 days worth!—meant I’d be back into my “old” clothes with ease. (That was not the case.)
The fucker of the whole thing is that I’ve really, REALLY had to kick my own lazy ass to make this happen and that sucks. It sucks because it’s not what most people say you’ll have to do and it’s certainly not what I expected, given that every publication at the grocery checkout talks about this-or-that celebrity dropping 50 pounds a week after giving birth. I was naive and kept assuming that my time was coming. A month postpartum. THIS is when I’ll drop the weight. Two months. THIS is when my belly button will look normal again. A year. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME.
I gained more weight than average while I was pregnant, yeah, and I enjoyed every last second of it. If I ever had another baby, I wouldn’t change a thing from the first go-around. I was (relatively) active and I didn’t overeat (relatively), but despite how hard it was for me after the fact, I can’t explain how freeing it was to wear whatever I wanted and not care how my stomach looked. Not having to suck in your stomach after a lifetime of sucking in your stomach? Hip-fucking-hooray, seriously. Seriously. Eating a meal and not having to loosen your pants because goddamn, I’m wearing maternity pants, HELLO. Pregnancy was great because I felt free of a lot of the stupid body image things that peppered my daily life in different ways—some consciously, some subconsciously. I enjoyed it so much (until the end, but that doesn’t count) that I forgot the peppered neuroticism would return.
I guess the point of this is really to say that it took two years (two years!) and a lot of early mornings to get back to square one. And not even really square one: Because this stomach will never look the way it did before and these stretch marks are most definitely here to stay. But for those of you a few months out, even a year out: I’m with you. I’m extending a hand and saying girl, wait a little longer. I know you don’t want to, I know two years sounds like an eternity when you’re up all night, every night, but those two years will go by fast. Too fast. I’m one of those stupid cliches wanting to turn back the clock because I miss spooning my little baby in bed, listening to her breathing, looking at the fine hair that MIGHT turn into eyebrows at any time. I remember one time we were laying in bed like that and I turned away and over onto my back because I couldn’t stand feeling the weight of the extra skin on my stomach sliding downward. What an idiot.
Time is a gift and a curse but mostly a gift. I should have known it then but I feel it acutely now. Two years is a long time to obsess about a number on the scale. I know there are some things I missed in those two years while I tried to button 10 different pairs of pants or while I cried for an embarrassingly long time after getting out of the shower. Of all the things I missed out on, the biggest was learning to accept myself regardless of personal or cultural pressures to conform to what a postpartum body should look like. It took me a year to conclude I’d have to teach myself acceptance by working hard and it took me two years to realize that working hard and achieving a goal isn’t necessarily acceptance either. This is a lesson I needed to learn and it’s something that I need to value, cherish and protect for the future. I have a daughter, after all.