Lessons In Body Acceptance

Yesterday, my 8-year-old and I went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. While waiting, he checked his weight and blood pressure on a fancy machine that I’ve never seen there before. When I realized that the machine also checked Body Mass Index, I told him I wanted to weigh myself. As the numbers flashed on the screen, I swallowed hard.

“Is that really how much you weigh?!” His mouth was literally hanging open in shock, because little boys who weigh 68 pounds have no idea how much adults are supposed to weigh. Also, I’ve been stress eating for literally 6 months straight, so you do the math.

I forced myself to erase all emotion from my face and voice as I chirped “Yep!” and got off the scale with as much dignity as one can muster in the pharmacy waiting area of a Rite-Aid drug store.

I wanted to say that I need to lose 15 pounds.

I wanted to say that I feel fat and gross and I need to take better care of myself.

I wanted to say that I’m healthy, I exercise, and it’s just a number.

I wanted to apologize, explain, or drill into his head that it’s never okay to speak about a woman’s weight.

Most of all, I wanted to grab him by the shoulders and say NEVER REPEAT THAT NUMBER TO ANYONE, DO YOU HEAR ME????

Instead, I smiled, put my arm around him, and we walked out of the store. The first step in teaching our children self-confidence is to demonstrate it, even if we have to fake our way through it sometimes. It makes me wonder how many times my own mother masked her true feelings in order to teach me lessons in body acceptance.

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Image via Courtney Privett. Find her on Facebook here!

My weight is a number that changes every day, my weight does not define me as a person, and my job as a mother is to instill in my children what things actually matter in life.

That number is not one of those things.

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Time Is Change

Today was my annual eye exam. I completed the paperwork, removed my contact lenses, and settled in.

“Have you noticed any trouble seeing things that are close to your face?”

“Uh, no? Why?”

“Well, you’ll start noticing some vision changes pretty soon. Don’t worry, bifocal contact lenses are a good option for you … unless you’d want reading glasses.”

Wait. Hold up. Bifocals? I’ve reached bifocal age?

I remember turning 30 so clearly: going out with friends, drinking too much tequila, kissing Robbie at Vulcan Park. I remember that birthday, but none since. The time between ages 30 and 37 is muddied by sleep deprivation and hormonal shifts; thankfully, now that my youngest child is nearly four, I’m beginning to emerge from the fog.

Maybe a small part of me knew when we decided to start a family that pieces of ourselves would fall away, dissolve, and disappear. That is aging, after all — but aging is time, time is change, and change is uncertain.

I do not like uncertainty.

Maverick is changing. He won’t hold my hand in public anymore, and he shies away from my hugs. It hurts way more than I expected it would. I wasn’t ready. But yet, much like my eyesight, I can’t prevent it; I just have to lean in, gracefully, and pretend that my heart isn’t breaking.

I remember being 8 and not liking my mother for some unexplained reason.

I wish I could go back and be nicer to her.

Much like everything else in life, the bifocal situation will be determined by how I choose to view it. I could lament the fact that I’m pushing 40, wallow in grief over the loss of my youth, OR, I could give myself a kick in the ass and be proud of the fact that I don’t look nearly old enough to need BIFOCALS.

Today, I choose the latter.

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Impacted Poop: The Anthem of Motherhood

This is a post about kindness. We need more of it. And you want to know what we need less of? Stupid motherfuckers.

I took my middle child to an urgent care clinic today for impacted poop. That’s right: poop.

Now, I have been a mom for 8 years and feel like I have a pretty good handle on what is urgent care-worthy. I tried everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) to help him get it out, but after 2 hours of misery I rushed him to a doctor. It is Saturday and my husband is at work, so I ran my other two kids to my parent’s house and went to the closest urgent care that was open.

I paid $100 –they made me, before we could be seen — and we waited. And we waited. And he was crying and sweating. And it was terrible. Finally, they brought us back. I was so relieved. The nurses were two kind, older women. I felt like maybe it was going to be okay, until the doctor came in. He proceeded to look me up and down and after tossing a cursory glance at my son and said, “We don’t deal with that here. There’s really nothing we can do.”

That was before he began flirting with me.

“So … are you from around here?”

“Yes. What do you mean, there’s nothing you can do?”

“Where did you go to high school?”

“Not here. Why can’t you try to manually remove the poop?”

(More mindless chatter until I interrupted him to ask again why he was refusing to even look at my son’s situation.)

“Well, constipation is common in children his age, and he just needs some magnesium citrate. But he could also see a pediatric G.I.”

“The reason why I’m here is because there is literally poop lodged in his anus that I have not been able to get out. I tried. It needs to be removed. He can’t even walk.”

The doctor proceeded to look down my four-year-old’s throat and say, “Your mommy is pretty.”

THAT IS WHAT HE DID.

FUCK YOU, MOTHERFUCKER.

Let me tell you something, idiots of the modern world: moms don’t want to be flirted with when their child is writhing in pain. We also do not enjoy being talked down to like we are nothing but walking, talking vaginas. If I wanted to pay $100 to be objectified, I would have gone to another part of town.

Because I didn’t know what else to do to cope with my rage, I posted a rant about what was happening on my Modern Mommy Madness Facebook page, and a wonderful woman named Jennifer contacted me. She married into a family I’ve known my whole life, but until today I’d never had the privilege of talking to her beyond a brief hello. And now I think we might be best friends.

Jennifer is a mom and a nurse at a local E.R. and she told me if I brought my son to her, she would do whatever was necessary to help him. I almost started crying right then and there. I know it’s only poop, but when your kid is in pain and you are out of ideas and someone tosses you a lifeline, it’s a game-changer. I needed a lifeline. We immediately went to the hospital where she works.

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Medical professionals who are actually good at their job and don’t spend their time hitting on women instead of treating patients are amazing creatures and I love them. I love them like I love the teachers who so painstakingly teach my children how to write their names. Just as I don’t have the skill set to teach my children how to read or write without screaming into a pillow, it turns out that I also don’t know how to properly extract impacted shit from an anus that does not belong to me.

Truth be told, I didn’t think I would make it through the experience of holding my son’s legs as Jennifer carefully and professionally pulled poop out of my child. The doctor came in to shake my hand and all I could think (or say) was, “HOW DO YOU PEOPLE DO THIS EVERY DAY?!”

The hospital bill is astronomical. For shit. An astronomical bill because of literal shit.

However, the point of me writing this is not to bitch about money or medical bills. It’s to say that when you see an opportunity to help another woman and you do it, you can SAVE HER. Literally and figuratively, save her.

I hope I can pay it forward and throw someone else a lifeline. I think that we women often shrug things off and think we can’t make a difference in this world, really. Well, I’m here to tell you that¬† WE CAN.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some wine to drink.

Wine

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I Have A Shit List.

My husband discovered that I have a Shit List. An actual sheet of paper that says “Shit List” at the top, with people’s names written on it.

Robbie: (Uncontrollable laughter)

Me: “What?”

Robbie: “You actually have a ‘Shit List?'”

Me: “Obviously.”

Robbie: “It’s pretty short.”

Me: “It could get longer … if you want.”

Having kids seems to have given me brain rot. I have to write EVERYTHING down — even the people who have wronged me, because my memory can’t be relied upon. I can remember which kid needs which dosage of cough syrup and who wore what pair of underwear two days in a row, but I can’t recall which bitch totally screwed me over.

Not only do I write down the name of the transgressor, but I also note a few details that will jog my memory about what they did to piss me off. Because if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s not making the same mistakes twice.

You do not want to end up on this list.

You do not want to end up on this list.

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My Un-Apology.

I have so much to say.

So many unfinished drafts. Thoughts that are still half-formed, nonsensical blobs, because it’s Summer, and I grab my time in 10-minute increments — writing or brushing my teeth or responding to emails furiously because I know that at any moment, someone is going to head butt someone else and I will have to drop whatever I’m doing to attend to the blood-curdling wails.

Writers require time and space. I have neither of those things.

BUT.

Because I have so much to say, I make the most of what I have to work with. It’s not pretty. I yell a lot. But when you want something bad enough, you find a way to make it happen. I can’t not parent, and I can’t not write, just like I also can’t not clean the kitchen after every meal.

I’m sort of sick of apologizing.

I won’t anymore. Writing is my un-apology.

If you read my work, I hope it’s because you enjoy it and are not looking for meekness or backpedaling for being real. You won’t find that here. Women do enough of that. I DO ENOUGH OF THAT. Let’s all make a promise to each other to stop saying sorry for being true, raw, honest human beings.

Today, my true, raw, honesty is that I enrolled my 2-year-old in preschool for the Fall because I made the decision that I can be a mother and also a person who pursues her wildest dreams, all at the same time.

I realized I was hanging around waiting for someone to give me permission.

I was waiting for someone — specifically my husband — to take me by the shoulders and say “YOU NEED TO PUT OUR KIDS IN SCHOOL SO YOU CAN WRITE ESSAYS AND SELL THEM AND PAY FOR THEIR TUITION AND MAYBE ALSO GET YOUR NAILS DONE.”

But you know what? No one is going to do that. Not even Robbie Hobbs, who we all love dearly because he is hilarious and endlessly supportive.

I took myself by the shoulders, looked myself in the eye, and told myself it was time.

And you know what happened next?

I didn’t apologize.

Victory!I’m elated.

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My Charred Uterus.

My uterus has served me well. 4 pregnancies, 1 miscarriage, 3 healthy babies.

All of my deliveries were relatively uncomplicated, I recovered quickly, and my uterus went right back to business. She did her job dutifully and predictably. I respected her for her hard work. We were partners.

But somewhere along the line, between the miscarriage and having my last two children very close together, my uterus and I stopped getting along. You know what it’s like to be stuck with a cranky bitch who makes everything miserable? That’s what it was like hanging out with my uterus.

After almost 2 years of issues, my husband begged me to go see what could be done about her. I sheepishly made my postpartum follow-up appointment … two years late.

“Your uterus is irritable,” the doctor said.

“Just like her owner,” I replied.

My uterus didn’t like that one bit.

My doctor ruled out every possible cause and finally said that my uterus was “unremarkable” (in addition to being irritable — she was really pissed off now) and I am otherwise perfectly healthy. He recommended an endometrial ablation. In layman’s terms: they go in there and laser off the uterine lining so there is nothing to slough off. No more periods.

Sold.

This isn’t a method of birth control, but it doesn’t matter because Robbie had a vasectomy as part of our agreement during The Great Negotiation For Our Third Child. The nurse who was in charge of me yesterday couldn’t BELIEVE that my doctor would trust me not to get a side piece of man meat.

“Your tubes aren’t tied?!”¬† she gasped. “You know … if you … you know (looking at my husband to see if he was paying attention) with someone else, you could still get pregnant and you would have a bad outcome. Your doctor must trust you a lot.”

“Of course he trusts me,” I said. “I’m a writer.”

I gave her a business card.

Seriously considering changing the name of this blog to

Seriously considering changing the name of this blog to “Modern Mommy Medness.”

With all of my kids squirreled away, and under the effects of some amazing drugs, I had a really good time in the hospital. I’ve never been under any kind of sedation and have never seen the inside of an operating room, so it was a whole new experience. I was sad because they made me take my contacts out, and then remove my glasses before they wheeled me back, so I couldn’t see anything in the O.R. and I knew there was a lot to see.

I had a lot of questions.

I think they knocked me out early just so I would shut up.

Robbie reports as they were wheeling me back into my room the following conversation happened between me and a group of nurses:

Me: “I have a question. Do I have to wear pads after this?”

Nurses: “Yes, you will need to wear them.”

Me: (yelling) “I don’t have any pads! FUCK THAT! I burned them all after my third child!”

Nurses: “Well, Mrs. Hobbs … that’s why they sell them in stores.”

I have no recollection of this.

While Robbie did not manage to get that exchange on video, he did get manage to capture a really weird conversation which ended with me trying — and failing — to open a pack of crackers. And yes, the “spaceships” were actually the big lights in the operating room.

Enjoy.

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Things I’m Not Afraid To Admit.

Life is fucking hard, man.

People don’t say that often enough. Maybe because they think they will sound weak or whiny. Maybe because they’re afraid of judgement. Maybe because they are worried that it’s not hard for other people. Maybe it’s just hard for them.

Maybe they’re afraid that if they open their mouths and admit to someone else that life is hard, it will mean that they just aren’t religious enough. Maybe they aren’t good enough for God to make it easier.

Maybe He can’t hear them. Maybe He isn’t even there.

I don’t believe any of that.

I long for Robbie and I to go back in time approximately 10-12 years, back to our previous life when our biggest concerns were as follows:

1. Where everyone was going to go that night,

2. What I was going to wear,

3. And how much sex was too much sex. Wait … never mind. That wasn’t a concern. So really we only had two things to worry about.

Throw in a fear of pregnancy and not having enough money to pay my $350/month rent, and that pretty much covers my early twenties. I want to go back to that time, not because I don’t want my kids or the life that I have now, but because I want to remember what it felt like to be less exhausted than I currently am. Right now, I’m close to being exhausted enough to stop showering, and if you know me, you know that this is MAJOR.

This thought hit me the other night when I was engrossed in watching a YouTube video of someone extracting impacted earwax from a man’s ear. I looked up to show Robbie, but he had fallen asleep listening to an audio book of Game of Thrones.

When I yelled, “What is happening to us?! WHO ARE WE?!?” it made him jump.

The next night, I sidled up to him and purred seductively, “Are you going to watch the rest of this baseball game?” He said, “I don’t know … I might fall asleep.”

I gathered my pillows and went to the couch, wishing for things to be less mid-thirties and more mid-twenties.

This morning I was passive-aggressively flipping through a magazine, feeling angry that I am so tired, that three-year-old children are so irrational, that my husband is just as tired as I am, that I don’t ever have time to write, and that people constantly need something from me.

Most of all, I was angry that I am becoming everything that I said I would never be.

I’m resentful, unkempt, and irritable. I yell. A lot.

I recoil when my husband touches me. I am touched out, talked out, cleaned out and incredibly tired of going to the grocery store. I’m exhausted of feeding people and cleaning up messes and hearing complaints from at least one person at all times, because there are five people in this house and no one is ever happy all at the same time and that includes me.

I’m a jerk.

I was gone for 4 days and it didn’t help. It just made me want more time away. It was a tiny drop in my dried-out bucket. I do my best to care for myself, but I still come up short. I’m being pulled in so many different directions, every day. I am asked to give more, even when I don’t have anything left, every day.

I am a frazzled mom.

That makes me wish that I could travel back in time to when life was simpler. Look how smooth our faces were. Look how close we are standing to each other. His hand is practically on my ass, and who could blame him? No one was squeezing in between us, yelling “MY Daddy!!!”

I want to warp-speed myself back to THIS.

I want to warp-speed myself back to THIS.

This is why people tell you not to rush your life — because you never know what the next season might bring. It might be really fucking hard.

You might have children stuck to you like agitated starfish for 12 hours a day.

You might have to unclog toilets and wipe up pee and chase small people who are surprisingly fast.

You might tear your hamstring in Kickboxing class because you’re getting old and you didn’t warm up properly.

As I mulled this over today in a brief moment of peace, during which I spaced out and sat completely motionless because no one needed me, I heard a sound coming from the bathroom.

“I bwush my teef.”

That’s what she was saying to me as she held up her toothbrush, smiling that double-dimpled smile that exposes her perfect toddler teeth.

I want to travel back in time.My baby just turned two and can hold full conversations.

“I bwush my teef.”

I stood there and stared at her. It was like I couldn’t breathe.

She’s so beautiful. So smart, so sweet. So cuddly and funny. She isn’t just beautiful because she’s pretty. She’s beautiful because she glows.

I am so grateful.

She held up her toothbrush. “MOUF!!!!” (That’s “mouth” in toddler-speak.)

The thing about seasons is that even on the darkest night, when the wind is howling at your door, there is still a moon in the sky. It’s not all bad, even when it’s fucking hard.

And I’m not afraid to admit that out loud, either.

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Diagnosis: Mother.

Today I realized that my 3-year-old isn’t as attached to his special blanket anymore. I realized that I have never rocked my 21-month-old to sleep, because she is the third child and in this house, the third child gets a bedtime kiss and dumped into her crib without ceremony.

Now that my oldest eschews rocking and my middle only lets me do it sometimes, I WANT TO ROCK SOMEONE BEFORE BED, DAMN IT.

Motherhood makes me feel like a crazy person. In fact, I am a crazy person.

To prove my point, I have created a visual aid using a family picture of us from October 2012, two months after The Great Negotiation.

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Because everything about this picture screams “WE NEED MORE CHILDREN!”

What’s The Great Negotiation? That was the time I spent months trying to convince my poor husband that I wasn’t done having children and we needed more, despite the fact that we were struggling on one income and had two very challenging boys — one of whom was not quite a year old. I felt like we totally needed to throw one more baby into the mix. That made sense to me.

This is how I know that mothers have something deeply, psychologically wrong with them.

The Great Negotiation took place during date night at Outback Steakhouse. My husband eventually wore down and said “FINE. But I have to get a vasectomy before the baby is born.” And I said, “FINE. I’m ordering a beer.”

Less than a year later, our daughter was born.

Less than a year after that, I regretted allowing the vasectomy. Because I have a mental illness.

It’s called Mother.

Get A Proper Bra Fitting (and other wise words).

My Dearest Daughter,

One day you will be old enough to find a computer and Google me or yourself and maybe you’ll find this list of things that I want you to know.

I guess I could write them on a real piece of paper and put it in the top of my closet with your brother’s baby teeth and the shard of glass that I pulled from your other brother’s butt cheek, but I think we both know that it would get forgotten up there. Or lost.

I’m sorry I’m not the normal kind of mother who makes baby books and writes things down on paper, and I hope that when you read this, if ever, you choose to apply it to your life instead of freaking out because OMG MY MOTHER IS SO WEIRD. Please don’t rebel and post half-naked selfies on the internet. That is not advisable.

Just … don’t.

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Things I Want My Daughter To Know:

It’s important to act like a lady, but some situations warrant unladylike behavior. If you’re going to act like a crazy bitch, make it count. When the deed is done, fix your hair, reapply your lipstick, and carry on.

You’re beautiful. Make the most of what you’ve got. But also? Your behavior and your words will make or break you. Spend just enough time on your appearance to make you feel confident, and spend the rest of your time being the kind of person that others want to be around.

Be real. I want so much for you to be comfortable enough with who you are to actually be yourself all of the time. That person rocks. Don’t try to hide her.

Other women will try to tear you apart. I want you to carefully select girlfriends who will lift you up and support you. Pick friends who GET YOU. Band together with people who make you laugh so hard you cry happy tears, and who will also cry sad tears with you when appropriate. If you have friends like that, it won’t hurt as much when the haters hate.

Haters are gonna hate. One day you’ll stop caring. Until that day comes, it hurts.

You don’t owe anyone anything. If anyone touches you in a way that you don’t like, don’t just sit there and allow it to happen. This is when unladylike behavior is warranted. Cut ’em.

You’re going to be underestimated. It’s hereditary. I hope that you focus more on the high that comes from surprising people with your intelligence, than the temporary attention you’ll get from being a pretty girl. Anyone can be a pretty girl. No one can be YOU.

Your father and brothers are going to make it very hard for you to date. I’m sorry about that, but hopefully the boy who manages to impress those three will be worthy of your time and affection.

If you find a boy you like, then date him. You don’t have to marry him. Even if he asks you to.

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You come from a long line of strong women. I expect you to uphold your heritage by finding yourself, settling in, and being true to yourself no matter what life throws at you.

Don’t have sex until you’re ready to have babies. Don’t have babies until you’re with the man you want to father them. And for the love of all that is holy, don’t stop educating yourself until you’re employable. Yes, I wrote all of in that bold. Take heed.

Even if you’re terrible at it, do something. Eventually you will find the right thing, the thing that makes you happy. The thing you’re not terrible at.

If you don’t like your situation, CHANGE IT.

And finally, go get a proper bra fitting. It’s well worth the extra time and money. And it’s amazing what proper undergarments can do.

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