Dellabee and Me

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Archive for the month “July, 2009”

Weighting

I am not someone who has struggled with her weight her whole life.  I am someone, though, who has been unhappy with her weight/body since forever.  I remember loathing my belly when I was in 3rd grade, and really the feeling was that intense – I loathed my body.  When I look back at pictures from my childhood I sort of question my sanity because I do not see a belly. But I very clearly remember the day I sat on the toilet, rubbed my hand in disgust over my protruding belly and thought to myself – at 8 years old – “I look pregnant.” 

I am sad to report that 27 years later I still look pregnant, only I’m not.  Two babies, little physical activity, and a lifetime of poor coping skills have left me overweight and unhappy.  It seems that no matter what I have, where I have traveled, or what I accomplish, nothing compares to the feeling of fitting into pants without spilling over the top.

I have tried diets, but things have progressed to such a point now that I can’t stick with them for more than a few days.  The mental game that goes on while trying to lose weight could be a DSM diagnosis, I think.  It seems to me that dieting, and failing, has only created more issues with food than I originally had.  Like I need more issues.

I have decided to take a different approach.  It does seem that the one constant in my life has been the poor body image, so it makes sense to me that that needs to be addressed first.  I have been reading a book called Intuitive Eating (http://www.intuitiveeating.org/) which has been really helpful in challenging many of my thoughts and beliefs about my body, eating, and the diet industry in general.  The notion behind intuitive eating is that food issues can be addressed via cognitive-behavioral techniques instead of dieting.  Some of the techniques include allowing yourself to eat whatever you want whenever you want it, not eating what doesn’t taste good, rating your level of hunger/fullness on a scale of 1-10, and identifying and challenging negative thoughts about food and body image. 

So where am I at in the process? I am stuck at, you guessed it, self-acceptance.  I understand that my body type is beyond my control.  I am not making negative comments to myself about how I look, nor am I making them out loud to other people.  But a recent trip home coupled with the heat has triggered this overwhelming sense of…shame.  I feel shame pouring off of me like cheap cologne.  What does shame look like, you ask?  Shame wears no make-up and hasn’t had a professional haircut in a year.  Shame buys no new clothes, and only wears things that are loose, unflattering, and dull.  Shame doesn’t answer the phone, doesn’t like to leave the house, and really only wants to be alone.

So right now I am trying to make small goals – eat well, be more active, say kind things about myself.  I never make weight comments in front of dellabee, yet the other day I heard this kid

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say something about being fat. WHAT???

I do not want my daughter sitting somewhere 30 years from now feeling ashamed of her body.  It needs to end now.

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Five years ago

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Five years ago, I was bleary-eyed and lactating.  Sleep was non-existent.  My baby boy was fat and happy, a constant nurser and totally, undeniably attached to me.  I was overwhelmed with all that had changed in my life – who I was, who I married, where I worked.  My body was…other-worldly, to be kind.

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Five years ago, I looked at the brightest, bluest eyes I’d ever seen and actually uttered the words “you..are…breathtaking. and you’re mine.”  I was terrified of losing him.  How could I ever get angry or upset at him?  I vowed to protect him and love him always.

 

In the first year of my son’s life – and my first year as a mother – I slowly came to understand that motherhood is wrought with heartache.  As much as I loved my baby boy, it was always flavored with the bitter knowledge that a job well done would end with him leaving me.  As Kahlil Gibran said:

Your children are not your children.  They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.  They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet  they belong not to you.

Five years have passed and now I find myself looking at this boy, the same bright blue eyes no longer surrounded by full, round cheeks.  His cries are less frequent, less urgent in their pitch, yet I am still compelled to fix whatever is causing them as soon as possible.  He is no longer a baby, yet still, always, MY baby.me and desi

I have to let him go.

Kindergarten beckons, with shiny new lunch boxes and new friends.  The yellow school bus will soon descend upon our neighborhood, carting away my small, precious contribution to this world.  My joy at this impending freedom – his and mine – is tempered with the knowledge that he will now to be exposed without my protection to all that is NOT great in this world.  There will be unkind words from other children.  He will try something, and fail.  He will get the wrong answer and experience shame, embarrassment, self-doubt.  He will be denied his one true desire, whatever it may be, and it will be something I can not give him.  Eventually he will love, and his heart will be broken.  So will mine.

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Updated vaccines pierce the bony flesh at the top of his arms, a pain I know well and yet in this instant I am grateful for it.  He needs my comfort.  He wants me to hold him.  He knows what the vaccines are for, and even though they hurt him and he is scared and trying to be brave, he understands that they are actually there to protect him.  Kinda like me.

Five years ago, I was unable to see beyond the next feeding, or the nearest nap.  I did not think about the day I would pack up my baby and send him out into the world while I stayed behind, hoping that I had prepared him for what he was about to face.  I only thought about those amazing blue eyes.

Here is the world, baby.

Dellabee

Good Intentions

I get a little cuckoo when I stay at home with my kids for too many consecutive days.  Usually by day 2 of breakfast eaten on the couch while the kids zone out to the Disney channel and I disappear into the internet, the nagging “you need to DO something” voice starts playing in my brain.

I don’t know why, though, because usually the kids are perfectly content and so am I.  It’s the guilt that makes me do it.  Guilt is like my silent partner in this parenthood project.  Always there, guiding my actions with a dirty look or a smirk but never a word. I hate guilt, that bitch. 

So last week I decided that we would begin DOING more things away from home.  We went to a park. It was fun, but hot.  We went shopping. That always ends badly, my children seem to become inmates on the lose when they are in large spaces with flourescent lighting.  We went out to lunch.  We went to the farm stand.

I did a little internet research on one of the staying-home sloth days and decided to bring the kids into “the city”.  Guided by the GPS, we spent the morning at the Nature Museum. We endured a too-long, non-compelling puppet show.  We looked at animals, plants, bugs.  The kids played in various play areas.  I let them choose an item to buy from the giftshop.  We ate the lunch I brought with us outside and then did the little trail behind the museum.  The kids, who had been semi-interested in most of the exhibits, came to life when they realized that the trail was made of pea gravel.  Yep, the kids became very excited about dragging their fingers through it, stacking rocks on top of each other, and collecting various things from the brush to leave in piles on the trail for the animals to find and eat.

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It was, in truth, a nice but boring way to spend 1/2 the day.  So I decided to up the tantrum odds by bringing the kids to the $2 movie theater to see Monsters vs. Aliens. 

As soon as we entered the cinema building, both kids bee-lined the candy display that was set down low just for them.  After the 45th request for candy while we were in line for popcorn, I sent the oldest off an a timeout.  In the meantime, I paid $3.50 for a bag of popcorn that was as big as a brown lunch sack, and $4 for the only non-caffeinated beverage they had, Sprite.  Yes, I spent more money on snacks than I did on movie tickets.

As we walked to the theater, I grabbed one of those seat-inserts that allow very small kids to sit in the seats instead of being swallowed by the spring action.  I asked my son to carry the tiny bag of popcorn. He did. Until we chose our seats in the dark theater, then he just sort of dropped the bag and $3.50 worth of popcorn went all over the floor. (ok, all over is an exaggeration since there really maybe 25 pieces of popcorn in that bag, but still)  I was so angry about this, irrationally so, because I had spent $3.50 on nothing.  Mind you, that was almost 2 tickets to this theater.

That left the soda, which the 2.5 year old kept muckling onto like a fiend.  She kept the straw in her mouth nursing the soda from the cup for about 10 minutes before it suddenly occurred to me that the penance to be paid for the 10 minutes of peace would be the eventual round of non-stop trips to the toilet.  Hooray for potty training, but boo for tiny bladders.

The amazing gravel path behind the nature center

It wasn’t until today that I finally realized what must be obvious to you, the reader: the kids are thrilled by things that I do not find exciting.  This is a big deal to me because it’s the first time I’ve really registered that my kids are not ME, they have interests beyond what I choose for them – or what I present to them.  Today we went to a drive-thru animal park.  We were able to feed all sorts of animals from the comfort of our vehicle.  When we finished the drive, we parked and wandered through the petting zoo.  The husband and I thought it was all very, very cool.  But we are animal lovers.

The kids, however, were ecstatic that they were able to move around inside the van without being confined to their carseats.  The deer and llamas and emus sticking their heads in the windows to eat from our hands were merely a distraction from the thrill of intra-vehicular mobility.  At the petting zoo, the kids were drawn to the dirt and gravel covering the grounds.  While we were pointing out the lemurs and the gigantic koi, my son – the bug lover – exclaimed “look at the butterflies!!”

Standing up in the van

Lesson learned.  Next week  I think we might go bug hunting in the backyard, but only after we watch Noggin for a while. 

The irresistable dirt

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