Embracing The Squish

10 years ago a doctor sat across from me and told me I had cancer.

She looked at my boyfriend and asked him how serious we were.

She explained that if I had the surgery that was recommended, there was a fairly significant chance that I wouldn’t be able to have kids.

I was 24.

That night I turned to my boyfriend and told him that he had an out. I knew he wanted kids and I knew that I may not be the person that was able to give them to him. His response? “Well, then we’ll be Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt… just more attractive.”

Disclaimer: This was 2007: Pre-biological children, messy divorce Brangelina.

In case you’re wondering, yes, that was the moment I decided that this was the man I was going to marry.

Yesterday, I went to my annual OBGYN appointment. After years of having to go every three months post-surgery, it’s nice to only go once a year. I stepped on the scale and immediately started making excuses. See, it’s not that I’m overweight, or inactive, it’s that every time I have a child my “happy weight” goes up by five pounds. No matter what I do, my body springs to that weight. Dieting, exercise, fighting to stay in shape despite my daily insanity, BOOM- those ten pounds want to stay right where they’re comfortable… on my hips. I dwell, I guilt myself, I feel inadequate, and all the while I don’t ever see what everyone else sees.

The doctor proudly reminded me that I was coming up on my ten year mark. Healthy as a horse, with two beautiful children. When ten years ago, someone had to sit across a desk from me and verbalize my deepest fears.

I was ashamed of what I had to go through.

I do not consider myself a survivor.

Every time I think of that situation I remind myself that there are so many that go through so much worse.

But the truth is this-

Those extra ten pounds are constant reminder of my blessings.

That squish that I hate is not going to go away.

My body is not ever going to be the body that I had at 24.

It is SO MUCH BETTER.

This body is healthy.

This body has carried two healthy, beautiful boys.

This body is not trying to kill me.

So tonight, I indulged in an extra glass of wine, an extra slice of pizza. I actually fed into the squish. It was a thank you gift. Because, mamas, as much as we fight against it, those jiggly, loathed parts of our bodies are a constant reminder of our blessings. Not every woman wants, or can ever achieve, the “mom-pooch.” So, I’ll raise a glass to mine.

10 years.

One diagnosis.

A thousand different fears.

One incredible husband.

Two miraculous sons.

Countless blessings.

In hindsight, worrying about how my children have changed my body is pointless. It’s also normal, but I digress. Yesterday was giant reminder of what could have been, and I hate that I’ve been so focused on how to hide the physical reminders of my kids. How many women want what I have? How many women have the same exact fears? How many women weren’t as lucky?

These hips don’t lie.

And it’s time I stopped asking them to.

Cheers to the squish, mamas. You’re beautiful.

And me, I am too.

 

Redefining Normal

NORMAL (nôrməl) adjective

1. conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.

 

Normal is a harmless word, right?

 

“Oh, work was good. Just a normal day.”

“I did my normal workout this morning.”

“It’s totally normal to feel that way.”

 

How about this one? “He’s four. I just don’t think it’s normal for him to be doing that.”

 

It’s harmless until it’s something that someone is saying about your child. Until it’s someone passing judgement about your child. Until it’s something you’ve heard said one too many times.

When you’re a parent, especially in this social media-obsessed society, you ask yourself multiple times a day whether your children are normal. When you log on to Facebook and see Stacey from high school’s four-year-old juggling and speaking Spanish, you immediately look over at your child eating Cheetos off of the floor and wonder whose kid is more normal. How many times have you Googled things like “normal speech development for a two-year-old boy” or “normal poop color after being sick?” Have you called your best friend and said, “Hey, so-and-so is being so defiant right now. Do you remember your kid doing this? Is it normal?”

How do you feel when the answer is NO?

How do you feel when the answer is no A LOT?

We live in a mean girl parenting society. It is HARD to be a mother, especially today. We are questioned and judged constantly, and because of that we subconsciously question and judge other mothers as well.

EVERYBODY wants to parent a NORMAL child. Nobody wants to deal with the thoughts that bombard you when the answer to “Is it normal?” is no.

But WHAT on Earth is normal?

 

I’m going to go out on a limb and admit something here. I know what it’s like to judge a mother based on how her child is developing. I know what it’s like to look at a mother’s child and wonder why she can’t do more to make her child understand or why her kid can’t sit still. What is she lacking? Why isn’t her kid normal?

There is one mother is particular that I just can’t let be. This poor woman. I’m ruthless. I tear her apart in my mind night after night. And damn it, I owe her an apology.

 

So listen, self.

I’m sorry.

Your child isn’t normal.

 

He is PHENOMENAL.

 

He is going to change the world.

 

And YOU?

You need to stop letting other people define the parameters of normal for you and your child.

You need to STOP worrying about whether he IS normal. Because if you don’t, he isn’t ever going to redefine what that means.

You need to cut yourself a little slack.

 

NORMAL is learning lessons every day.

NORMAL is looking out for yourself.

NORMAL is loving your family and friends fiercely.

NORMAL is accepting people for who they are, regardless of the filter they are viewing you through.

 

And if you need someone to help you with that? I know a guy.

 

He’s four.

 

And in his best interests, let me ask you a favor, please…

Stop using the word NORMAL to compare him.

Stop using the word NORMAL to compare your children.

STOP using the word NORMAL to compare yourself.

Use KIND, or LOUD, or GENUINE, or LOYAL, or SELFISH, or PARTICULAR, or INCREDIBLE.

Because, really, the greatest thing about humanity is that there is nothing more abnormal than being normal.

 

So, fellow parents, if you are asking yourself if your children are normal, if what they do is normal, if who they are is “normal”… the answer is YES. It’s just simply time that we take a clue from our babies and redefine what that means.

Always Check Your Blind Spot

Today I spent nine hours driving my two anxious, nauseous, ten-year old cats to Massachusetts to stay with my mother for two months while we move.  Did I mention I brought my four-year-old (human) assistant with me? Yep, the one who got into a meowing contest with said cats… because that’s calming for them.

Anyhow, I glanced casually at my passenger-side mirror and caught those words that are always there- “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” How many times have you looked at those words? So many times you probably don’t even see them.

By the time I hit I91 in Connecticut, I was practically delusional from hearing Paw Patrol on repeat and found myself thinking almost exclusively in metaphors. So, I’ll apologize ahead of time for my crazy line of thinking, but bear with me here, because I can guarantee that fifty miles later I eventually hit a point.

Mile 1… Okay, I’m totally kidding.

With this move, I’ve been forced to fall back on the support of so many people. Okay, let’s be real… nearly everything I’ve done, or strived for, or dreamed about, I’ve had to fall back on people’s support. Those objects in our mirror? The ones that are closer than we perceive them? The ones that, for the most part, are propelling us forward? Those are our friends.

We all have them. Some of us may be on a single lane road, with a pair of headlights miles back, and others may have so many friends backing them that their mirrors look like they’re sitting on the beltway in D.C. traffic at 5:00 PM on a Friday.

But there’s one part of your rear-view that mirrors don’t show. Your blind spot. That one spot on either side of your car that is essential, but you forget that it’s there.

We ALL have blind spot friends. Those friends that are so close to us that we forget to check them. Yeah, yeah, I know, newer cars are made with those fun little mirrors that show your blind spot at all times. But humans don’t upgrade that quickly. I’m talking about the friends you take for granted. The ones you assume are there. All the time. Why check?

Often times it takes a violent slamming of the breaks to make you frantically check your blind spot to make sure everything’s all right. Are you safe? It’s those moments that make your adrenaline flow and your heart race, when you change lanes and then swerve because your eyes were open, but not quite wide enough.

Those moments are when your blind spot friends are there.

I propose that we all take a moment to check on those friends. Those friends that are always right next to us, that make us feel comfortable enough and powerful enough to focus on the open road.

Right now, my life isn’t an open road, it’s a traffic jam. And my blind spot friends, hell, they’re offering me a place to live, help with moving, places to store my belongings, child care, and an open ear when I want to spout off my next crazy dream. They’re offering me more than I would have ever seen coming. But did I look?

Do me a favor, please. Take a moment to thank those friends. Check on them before you have to swerve. Nobody’s life is an open three-lane highway all of the time.

Who’s in your blind spot?

Who shouldn’t you overlook?

Whose blind spot are you in?

Most times you never know until somebody swerves. Somebody breaks. Somebody throws you a frantic glance.

I hope that you are closer than you appear.

Because let me tell you, at this point in my life, I am so grateful for the friends that I forget to look at until I need them most.

ALWAYS check your blind spot.

 

Prepping To Say Goodbye

My life is in a state of turmoil right now.

A state of self-inflicted, it-will-end-up-okay, let-me-constantly-second-guess-myself, turmoil.

The house I am living in, MY HOUSE, will be somebody else’s house in nineteen days.

I have been so excited to buy my new house that I haven’t taken a second to look back at my “old” house.

So listen, 121 Porter Way.

Thank you.

You were my very first adult accomplishment. I bought you when I was 25. I thought I was amazing. And I WAS.

I got engaged when I owned you.

I got married when I owned you.

I brought BOTH of my babies home to you.

And because of that, you are a part of me. You, an inanimate 1,300 square foot object.

Life has a way of reminding us exactly who we are and what we have to show for it. For me, that’s a tiny plot of land and a little house in West Virginia.

Don’t ever discount the little things because someone else has it better, or bigger, or fancier.

This little house has housed so much love, and will continue to do so.

A family will move in here in nineteen days and will fill it with love, albeit a different kind of love. Probably saner, thank God.

Four walls. Two people. One love. Two babies. Countless memories.

Thank you.

While you didn’t do all that for me, you housed it.

Eight years later, I can look back and say that you surpassed my wildest expectations.

I surpassed my wildest expectations. My boys did too.

And you were always the place we came home to.

HOME may never have an address. But if it did, it would be a palindrome. With a 0.29 acre lot. With a cement driveway, and an apple tree.

Thank you for being my twenties. My past. My home. My start.

Thank you for being my beginning.

 

 

 

 

OH, Why Not?

This post, like so many others coming, is not carefully edited. It is not rehearsed. It is a “fly by the seat of my pants,” no BS, “what you see is what you get,” “let’salljustbehonestandrealbecauseforGod’ssakelifeistooshortandcan’twealljustgetalongandloveeachotherandstopbeingcrazyjudgmentalassholesandbuildeachotherupsothatweallfeellikewehaveafriendthatlovesusforwhowearebecausewearefriggin’awesomeandwhatthehellamIdoingbecauseIdon’thaveaplanandisn’tthatcrazyandthisrunonsentence/wordismakingmymindhurtbecauseI’mstillateacherdespitebeingaspaz” first post.

See that last sentence thing? According to every English teacher I’ve ever had, that is supposed to be my topic statement. That rambling incoherent mess of thoughts and love. You know what? No editing needed. That’s life and there’s no filter for that.

My intention is to build people up.

My intention is to be real.

My intention is to make you see that despite the fact that my children have consumed blueberry muffins for lunch every day this week, I am reaching for the stars and you should too.

What is your passion? Mine is awakening other people’s passions. Validating other people’s passions. Building up other people’s passions.

The way I figure it, we have an average of 78.74 years on this Earth and we damn well better leave it a better place. You don’t have to be the president (of the United States… or the PTA either, really) to make a difference. You can make people feel like they matter. Every day. You can listen, you can care, you can do small things to leave this Earth better than you found it. You can MESS UP.

Because after all, LIFE is what makes our planet spectacular. And you get one of them. As my husband always says, (which apparently I have The Shawshank Redemption to thank for) is “Get busy living or get busy dying.”

So, as I do with nearly everything in my life, I’m going to start this blog… with a wing and a prayer. If you are thinking about going for some big, crazy dream, start with a step. Like this.

Walk with me.

If you’re ready to test the waters with both feet, jump with me.

If you have no clue what you’re doing, but you have faith every day that you can do it with love, and kindness, and acceptance, and a healthy dose of fear…

Then, my friend, you can soar with me.

We may crash into a cliff.

But we may be what someone else needs to fly.

That’s MY goal in life… I am either going to soar being the feather someone needs in their wings, or I’m going to crash and burn.

So, let’s all just do me a favor and keep me away from vertical rock faces.

Thanks, y’all.

Here we go!