To the pretty young frustrated mama who cursed me out in H&M yesterday, it’s ok- I understand
You were frazzled, I get it. Your adorable infant son flailing around in your arms as your husband stood by with the stroller, dumbfounded. It’s ok- I understand.
The store’s loud music blaring, aggravating your son even more while people stepped around you to pay for their purchases – it’s ok, I understand.
Your snide comment about my “perfect hair” and “little dress” making me appear to have “never come in contact with a baby in my life” – it’s ok, I understand.
The truth is, pretty mama – I too am a mom. A mom of an infant, a teething infant, an infant who also seems to lose her mind in h&m – every single time.
The dress I was wearing? Yes it was kind of little- but I can assure you it took me months to fit back in to, and has been blessed with baby bodily fluids of all kinds, multiple times.
My hair? Cleverly blown out to hide all the grays- the grays that seem to grow more rapidly with each passing day of being a mama with not enough time, only two hands and never enough money.
My baby? She was home, home with her dad who (bless his loving heart) would have also stood by confused and frustrated mid-tantrum. In fact, I never could have gotten him to join me on a shopping trip on a Sunday morning (how did you do that?!)
In fact, it took more effort than you can imagine to finally get to h&m yesterday. It took 2 months, 3 unsuccessful mall trips, and one husband willing to wake up early on a Sunday morning to watch our baby girl – just so I can make my return.
I too, have learned the hard way, that a shopping trip is best done sans baby. I probably looked as great as you were angry at me for looking because of the happiness that comes with the feeling of being free – free to focus on nothing but myself for 30 minutes. Two free hands to peruse the sale racks. A walking path free of stroller struggle.
I guess what I hadn’t learned (until I crossed your path) – is never to ask a frazzled mama with a flailing infant in her arms – whether or not she is waiting in line to pay, and just assume it best to stand behind her.
I’m sorry mama, but it’s ok- I totally understand.
To the pretty young frustrated mama who cursed me out in H&M yesterday, it’s ok- I understand
Why I’m Keeping the Last 10 Pounds
I am 31 years old. I have spent the last 16 years completely obsessing over 10 pounds. That’s 15 years of self-loathing and ridiculousness, and nothing to show for it except for a few great bikini shots and a sleek profile in my wedding gown.
During my senior year of high school, my diet consisted of oatmeal, diet coke, and frozen yogurt. Occasionally, when on the brink of fainting, I’d indulge in a handful of trail mix that my mom and I kept in the freezer for “emergencies”. Keep in mind, I had no weight to lose at this time. Not a pound. My ass was perfect in my Miss Sixty jeans, my thighs didn’t touch, and my arms were just the right amount of bony.
College consisted of more of the same insanity, only this time I did have those pesky ten pounds brought on by raspberry Smirnoff vodka and late night pizza delivery. Life became a vicious cycle of eating as little as possible, working out as much as I could, and drunken pizza binges in between. I wish I could say that I graduated college with less dysmorphia and more confidence, but that was definitely not the case. Whether I was up those ten pounds or not, nobody seemed to really care but me – but it was all I cared about. ALL.I.CARED.ABOUT
Even in the worst of times, just after my 28th birthday – after a horrific car accident nearly took my life, I focused not just on healing my broken bones and devastated soul – but on how thin I could get in the process. The last thing I needed was to lay around in bed getting fat while I healed. So I restricted my diet to apples, kale, quinoa and tea, and when I took my first step after 5 long months – I looked the best I had ever looked. High school good.
As you can imagine, when I moved to Miami, met my husband, and started planning a wedding shortly thereafter, the pressure was on. I punished my body in ways I never imagined – hour long sessions in a “sweat capsule”, six mile cardio sessions in the Miami heat, and daily sessions with my trainer. I treated my wedding dress fittings like the end of the world, surviving on spinach, salmon and grilled chicken for almost 6 months. When I finally walked down the aisle to meet my beloved, my skin so badly dehydrated, each muscle in my body aching, all I could think about was “well at least I look good.” Oh, and cake – I really wanted some cake.
On my honeymoon, my husband and I discussed when we might start trying to get pregnant, and he made a comment that still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
“You’re going to gain weight when you’re pregnant, you know. And I certainly don’t want my child growing up in a home where looks and diet are the only topics of discussion”.
Shit. Um, well, if we have a boy, I won’t have to worry about that, I thought to myself. He probably won’t pay any attention to that kind of stuff.
Maybe that would have been the case – except I was pregnant shortly thereafter, with a girl. I remember sobbing for hours on end when the doctor called with the blood test results – how could I have a girl? What if she ended up like me?
My pregnancy weight gain was a real shock to my system, both physically and emotionally. Having just come off months of starvation and compulsive exercising, my doctor insisted I start eating a more “normal” diet and stop abusing my body. I realized very quickly that this body of mine needed to be treated with much more love than I had ever given it, and with each pound I gained, I fell farther and farther away from that ideal image I had strived for, and was surprisingly okay with it.
By my third trimester, I had stopped obsessing over how long it would take me to lose the weight and just embraced the process. With each kick in my belly, I would remind myself that I would soon be responsible for the emotional well being of a precious and impressionable young girl, and would sooner die than ever let her feel even an ounce of the self-hatred I inflicted upon myself for years. I gained a total of 38 pounds in 39 weeks, and I had a really good time doing so.
Our precious Isabella was born on a Monday morning. I will never forget the moment when I was first alone with my girl, in my hospital room while she lay naked on my bare chest. It was in this moment that I knew that I wanted nothing more for this girl to one day love herself as much as I loved her, and that I had to protect her from the horrors of our image obsessed society.
I am pleased that the bulk of my pregnancy weight gain is gone. It disappeared a lot more easily than I anticipated. But like many new mamas, the last ten pounds have decided to hang around, mostly in my hips and booty. I am back in all of my pre-pregnancy clothing, although they don’t really fit like they used to. My arms are no longer toned and tight. I have a slight muffin-top situation, but nothing major. Before Bella, this would have killed me.
I’ve decided to keep these last ten pounds. Why? My health is not at risk because of them. They don’t make me any less of a loving mother, wife, or friend. My husband is happier when I’m not starving. In fact, he appreciates this booty. But most of all, I am keeping these last ten pounds because the fight to lose them would paint a horrible picture for my daughter. I would rather be making her giggle than running off to the gym. I’d rather her see her mama enjoying a meal instead of punishing herself for it. I want to teach her to make healthy choices for her well being and not for her waistline.
I want to teach her to love every part of herself, not to obsess over the parts that “could be better”.
To all the mamas I’ve ever met, and will continue to meet along the way…
I met a new mama friend at lunch yesterday; she tagged along with a mutual mama friend and brought her adorable 10-month old son with her.
“I’m sorry, he isn’t usually this fussy,” she exclaimed in a panic, before I even got to learn her name.
How strange, I thought to myself. He hadn’t even been visible from his stroller at that point, but then I realized, I’ve done this a hundred times before. I’ve apologized in restaurants when icy stares would greet my baby stroller and I, before my precious girl had even made a sound. I’ve apologized in Starbucks, when a sock would (as usual) fall off my daughters chubby little foot and land at the feet of another patron who probably didn’t even notice the loss (or the adorable foot). I once actually uttered an apology to a mannequin; A MANNEQUIN – in my earliest days of shopping with baby and clumsily navigating my stroller through Nordstrom.
In the wake of that horrific diner incident in Maine, I can’t help but wonder when children became the “I suck at life, let me apologize for it” card? Why are people with young children made to feel as if they don’t belong in public? As if their child’s cry is so shockingly inappropriate?
I get it – no one wants their meal, shopping experience, conversation, plane ride, bus ride, train ride, or mere existence spoiled by a screaming child. Hell, when my own child cries I feel a sense of unease, but I think we’ve all forgotten the bigger picture here. We were ALL teething, soiled, hungry babies at one point or another. It is perfectly okay for a child, your child, ANY child, to get fussy, lose a sock, drop a toy, fling a cheerio or throw themselves on the floor.
How can I put this in simpler terms? OK – let’s look at the following example. I have a big mouth. I tend to say things that make my mom blush, that sometimes make my husband wonder why he married a half-italian New Yorker, things that often times spark quite a bit of controversy behind closed doors. Imagine if every time I sat down for lunch with my Mom, she apologized to the people around her for her 31 year old daughters presence. Imagine if every colleague my husband introduced me to was forewarned. It would seem a little degrading right? Like, what mom or husband would treat another human they loved like a burden that needed to be justified or apologized for. This would be a huge self-esteem killer, don’t ya think?
We ALL want our children to grow up with confidence, self-assurance and integrity. So please, parents, I urge you – stop apologizing. Stop apologizing for your children and their behavior that hasn’t even offended anyone yet. Stop apologizing for the fact that you are exhausted because you’ve been attending to an infant all day. Stop apologizing for the fact that your baby is getting his first tooth and is troubled by the pain. And for the love of God, STOP APOLOGIZING FOR BREASTFEEDING. Or not breastfeeding. You are allowed to feed your child (however you want)!!!! Stop making them feel like an annoyance before they even have the ability to learn to feel good about themselves. Just stop.
You will feel so much better about motherhood once you realize you don’t owe ANYONE an apology.
The Trusted Mama
Mommy and Me is not for your baby…
And if you think it is, you likely have not attended your first class. Sure, Mommy and Me offers great opportunities for your babies to be visually stimulated, have some toys to play with and songs to listen to, but ultimately, Mommy and Me is, always, for Mommy.
Bella and I attended our first Mommy and Me class just before she was two months old. At that time, all Bella really needed to be stimulated was her tummy time mat and a good look at her hands, but I ventured forth nonetheless. I was determined to immerse myself in a room full of moms with their babies, observe them in their natural environments, and engage in conversation about all things baby.
My plan worked. In one very quick hour, all of the mommies sitting Indian-style on the carpet with me covered topics from baby wearing, to sleep training, to the in-laws, co-sleeping, baby led weaning, nipple sizes, diaper brands and beyond. A common favorite was the “I wish my husband would” conversation. While the lovely class leader tried to sing over us, everyone shared stories that made each of us feel that much better about our newest full time job.
We laughed at the husband who gags during diaper changes and the mommy who changed her sons diaper on the side of I-95 in rush hour traffic. We commiserated over the loss of friendships due to our new lives, the challenge of having somanygoddam’ visitors, losing the baby weight, the cost of formula. It was like a very inexpensive, very helpful therapy session that I had been yearning for since the day Bella entered my life. Who would have thought opening up to a room full of strangers could suddenly make you feel so connected, and dare I say it, NORMAL??
Before leaving, a bunch of us kept chatting in the parking lot while shushing and trying to calm our now exhausted babies. We exchanged names for social media purposes, and everyone offered up their favorite Mommy and Me classes in the area. One class became two, two became four, and all the while new mommies joined to “give their baby some stimulation”. It was clear to me then why EVERY mommy needs to fit these classes into their lives. After all, you just might make a great friend or two… Oh, and your baby might too!