Tuesday, December 30, 2014

the one about my resolutions

Ah, yes.

The new year.

2015 is upon us.

And to think the world was supposed to end 3 years ago.

I have already seen my fair share of "New Year's Resolutions" posts on Facebook. Lose weight. Save money. Be a better this and be a better that.

There's always something about the start of a brand new year that inspires us all to make positive changes. I don't have a problem with this concept. Self-reflection and self-improvement is a beautiful thing.

However, as I was at the gym last evening, it occurred to me that my resolutions were going to be different this year.

I've done the whole loseweightfitinabikiniwearasize4 resolution thing lots of times before.

And you know what? I fail. Miserably. Every. Single. Time.

So, this year, I am not going to try to lose weight. Nope.

And yes, I have looked in a mirror lately, thankyouverymuch.

I'm going to make my arms stronger so that I can lift the extremely clunky and heavy car seat carrier with ease.

Stronger arms make for better pushes on the swing, an extra boost up onto that tree branch they are always wanting to climb, and the ability to line 54 plastic grocery bags up each arm so as to avoid an extra trip out to the car.

Yep. I want stronger arms.

I'm going to strengthen my legs so that I can run, skip, jump, and play with my energetic girls. So that I can stay on my feet longer without needing to plop on the couch. So that I can run out from an Underdog without getting kicked in the head. So that I can lay on my back, balance their bellies on my feet, and "fly" them into the sky like an airplane.

Stronger legs. I'm gonna have them.

I'm going to eat better. And by better, I don't mean cutting out the little treats that make life livable. I'm still going to have those. But maybe not as much. I'm going to eat better because I can't expect my children to like the good stuff if I don't show them that I like the good stuff, too. I don't want to be a hypocrite. I want to be an example.

And, honestly? I kind of hate sharing my chips when they beg for some off my plate. So maybe I will cool it on the chips. And when I have some, I will give them their own so that they can learn how to enjoy salty, crunchy goodness in moderation.

Lastly, I want to run a 1/2 marathon. I have wanted to do this for a few years now, but I just kept getting pregnant.

Running is one of those things that you can't possibly understand the joy of it from the outside looking in. However, I remember when I was running quite frequently (3 babies ago) the sense of accomplishment I felt. I stopped short of ever training for 13.1 mile race, but I'm going to do it this year.

Not to lose weight, but to prove to myself that I can do it.

And to show my girls that they can do anything they set their minds to doing.

See? Losing weight is not my goal in any of this. If it happens, awesome! But if it doesn't, as long as my body is doing all of these other cool new things, I am not going to mind.

The other day, I was moping and near tears because I was disappointed in my body. My 10 week post-Shiloh belly is still soft, flabby, and now has a few unsightly stretch marks. Somehow, I made it through a 40 pound weight gain with Noelle without any stretch marks,  but yet a weight gain just shy of 20 pounds yielded a handful of those little assholes.

So, as I was shooting down every single compliment that my husband was giving me…

You're beautiful.
No, I'm not.

You look great!
Are you kidding?
(along with an almost irreversible eye roll)

I mentioned the stretch marks and said, "How on Earth could you possibly think anything about this is attractive?"

He then said probably the sweetest thing he has ever said to me before.

"Stretch marks? Are you kidding? When I see those, I think about how you gave me the three most beautiful girls. You're incredible. I don't care about stretch marks."

Point taken.

It's not about weight. It's not about a bikini. It's not about being a size I haven't been since 2nd grade.

I resolve to love the body I have…the one that grew three human beings.

I resolve to make that body stronger and healthier.

For them. For me.

Enough.




Friday, December 19, 2014

the one about the marathon

Parenting.

There are times when I really feel like I'm winning at it.

The hugs. The kisses. The holding hands. The cuddles. The arms around my neck with a whole-hearted "I love you, Mama!"

"Thank you."

"I'm sorry."

All of that is winning.

And then there are times when my 4 year old puts on her winter coat, and, just prior to opening the door to the back deck and stomping away into the wilderness, announces to me that she is going to find a new mom because I'm the worst one ever.

Not my definition of winning.

This has been one daunting week.

Not only has she started to back-talk me like it is her j-o-b, but she has shown me now more than ever that she has too many toys and too much shtuff in general because she fails to clean anything up or take care of her belongings.

When I dare to ask her to pick something up that she has exploded all over the living room, she collapses to the floor in a pile of curls and twirly skirts and cries.

It's a good thing Christmas is 6 days away so she can get EVEN MORE THINGS!

And I'm going to be quite honest with you. In those moments, I lose my shit.

I don't walk away easily. My blood boils, my blood pressure rises, and I want to (and sometimes do) explode.

I engage with an irrational 4 year old. I begin entertaining negotiations, using vocabulary that is way over her head, and I deliver lectures that go in one ear and out the other.

Against my better judgment.

Against what I know is best.

Against what I have read in books and in blogs.

As you might imagine, that method isn't working well for me.

Case in point. Yesterday, I gave an Oscar-worthy speech on the importance of taking care of her markers so they wouldn't dry up. That then parlayed itself into a lesson on how markers cost money, and we don't have endless funds to replace markers. I topped it off with the old standby of "there are children in the world who don't have markers, so you should be thankful and take care of them."

After all of that, the markers were still left uncapped. Words were exchanged. Resistance. Tears. The whole thing. They were taken away and she was sent to her room to think about what it means to be ungrateful.

That escalated quickly.

After a good bit of time passed, I went in to speak with her about what had happened and if she knew why I was upset.

"My behavior?"

"I yelled?"

Notice the question marks? She was making guesses. She didn't know why I was upset. And she didn't know what it meant to be ungrateful.

Probably because I didn't give her a dictionary and probably because she is 4 years old.

For as verbal and smart as she is, at the end of the day, she is 4 years old. Her mind can only process so much. Her brain is only so developed in those social and emotional and logical ways.

It hit me that I may be expecting her to think like an adult…when in fact she is still a child.

When you have a child who articulates like an adult, who converses with adults, and basically thinks she is an adult…it is so difficult to remember that she was still in diapers like a year ago.

Pacifiers a year before that.

She's still a child. A day older than a toddler it feels. She's still learning. And she's learning from me.

Each time I fly off the handle, she's watching.

Each time I run off at the mouth, she's listening.

Ugh.

She sees…she hears…she remembers…everything.

In the dark moments, I blame myself. How did I mess up so badly? What have I done wrong? Is it too late to turn this around? Will our relationship forever be strained?

But in the light, I know the truth. I know that she is testing me. Pushing me. Challenging me to rise to the occasion. She wants to see how far she can go before I just throw my hands up and say "Forget it. I'm done. I quit."

And she wants to know that the answer to "how far she can go before I quit" is forever. No matter how hard it gets, I won't quit. I will always be her Mama. I will always love her. She wants to know this.

My frustration and exasperation with my daughter does not mean I do not love her. I love her so immensely that it kills me to struggle with her so much. If I didn't love her, it wouldn't hurt, and I wouldn't care. I wouldn't want to change anything. If I didn't love her, I wouldn't care about what kind of child she was or what kind of woman she would grow up to be.

I love her from the tips of my toes to the top of my (rapidly graying) head.

But I'm a real Mama. I am a real human. I am not perfect.

So, after some reflection…some coffee…and lots and lots of chocolate…I am rethinking my plan.

First, I had to think about why her behavior made me so angry. There are plenty of parents who seem to shrug these outbursts and fits off so easily. Laugh them off, even. Meanwhile, I think about and obsess over them for weeks and months. I blame myself and let them ruin my entire day.

I figured out that it isn't anger that I feel so much as it is embarrassment and fear. I feel embarrassed that my child is acting inappropriately, and I don't even have to be in public. I worry that her behavior is a reflection of my parenting (which I know, in part, that it is-- along with a mix of her age, personality, and temperament). I fear judgment from teachers and other parents.

Although most of the time she is great for her teachers and other adults. She saves the best for me.

I feel fear because I want her to be liked. I want her to have friends. I want her to be well thought-of. I fear that people will not know all of the wonderful things about her.

Embarrassment. Fear. Not anger.

So, I have decided to stop fighting fire with fire. It's not getting me anywhere. It's not anger that I feel, anyway. I must remember that.

In the moment, I need a tool to turn to so that I don't spiral out of control.

After some extensive Internet research, I found this, and I think it is great. Consequences that make sense.

Not only do these consequences make sense to a child, but they make sense to me, too. They make me feel good and not crazy. They make me feel fair and reasonable.


This chart comes from the blog, Meaningful Mama. She does a great job of explaining her reasoning, and I found myself nodding in agreement. Check it out.

If nothing else, I felt better because I knew I wasn't alone. 

Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. It isn't about instant gratification. It may take years to reap the benefits of a decision we make today. 

I love my children, and I love being their mama. 

I love the good days.

And for the bad days, I love my wine.






Friday, December 12, 2014

the one about the workout

Warning: This post is about breastfeeding. I say the word boobs in a completely unsexy way. If this isn't your cup-o-tea, turn away now.

Dear Expectant Mamas,

Congratulations! You are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. Soon, a little human will vacate your body, and you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Pregnancy is no small thing. As we all know, it has its ups and downs. Some pregnancies are smooth sailing, and others…well, you get put on bed rest and have preterm labor and get gestational diabetes (not that I'm bitter or anything).

I feel it is my job to tell you something very important about this next phase of your life. Please read carefully, because it is advice that only an honest friend can give you.

Mila Kunis is full of shit.

Bet you didn't see that coming, huh?

For a moment, please read this crap and then come back here.

Cliff's Notes Version:
Mila Kunis just had a daughter named Wyatt (?) and she was recently on the Late, Late Show. She was quoted as saying something like, "Breastfeeding is a great workout! All I do is eat a ton and the weight just falls right off!"

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Dead from laughter.

I remember going to a breastfeeding class when I was pregnant with Noelle, and the nurse told all of us that breastfeeding is wonderful because you can, and I quote, "eat a steak dinner every night and still lose weight."

Well, imagine my disappointment when I did, in fact, eat steak dinners quite often upon the birth of my oldest and the weight did nothing but stay on my ass.

The logic is that breastfeeding burns something like 500 calories a day, so you can essentially eat 500 extra calories and not gain weight.

Um, thanks. Maintaining this weight isn't my goal. I don't want to look 9 months pregnant and not actually be 9 months pregnant.

In case you didn't already know, celebrities are liarfaces. Mila Kunis may very well be breastfeeding and "eating a ton," but she most likely also has a trainer, a chef, 3 layers of Spanx, and a very restricted diet that is allowing her to slim down quickly.

Technically, she wasn't all wrong.

Breastfeeding is a workout.

I would imagine that holding a baby with one arm while you simultaneously attempt to apply makeup, eat your breakfast, return an email, change another kid's diaper, or fold laundry with the other arm has got to burn some calories. At the least, it builds some great bicep muscles.

Then there's the cardio exercise of throwing a nursing cover/blanket over yourself, slipping the child underneath, lifting your shirt, flopping out the goods, and feeding your child without exposing yourself. That really gets my blood pumping.

How about this. Try going to a step aerobics class post-baby. The added weight from those "gals" that  are due for a feeding provide nice resistance training (and a good excuse for well-placed "sweat stains"…if you know what I mean).

Or what about when you're feeding the child uncovered in your own home and the doorbell rings, and you can tell it's the FedEx man with that shipment you have been waiting for but you have to sign for it and you don't know what to do because, well, your boob is out. You can't take too long because he will turn and leave and you need that package today so you frantically find a cover, stand up while the child is still attached, and make it to the door in time.

Heart. Racing. Just me?

But even though breastfeeding is a proven workout for me, the act alone isn't melting pounds off by the day, lemme tell ya.

Who knows? You might get lucky. You might be one of those women who enjoys this white unicorn of breastfeeding.

We just will no longer be friends.

With love,
The Mama