And for once I was SuperMom

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


            “Mommy what are you doing?”
            “Driving the car.”
            “Where are we going?”
            “To the grocery store.”
            A few minutes later,
            “Are we going to the grocery store?”
            “Yes, just like I said.”
            A few minutes later,
            “Are we there yet?”  I just stay silent, I feel like that should be self evident.  But maybe ‘self evident’ isn’t a concept that three year old children understand.  I remember asking these questions as a little girl,
            “Dad what’s your favorite color?” I ask.
            “Blue,” he always says blue.  Good, the world is okay, everything can proceed as normal.
            I just finished the first chapter of Made to Crave; a book about replacing your cravings for food with cravings for something more holy.  Lysa Terkheurst, the author, asks you to picture your cravings, she uses the illustration of a little orange monster.  I pictured that three year old voice at my elbow, except maybe a bit more sinister,
            “Hey, is there any chocolate in the house?”
            “Are you gonna eat it?”
            “No, not right now.”
            “You should eat it.”
            “No, I don’t think so.”
            “Have you eaten it yet?”
            “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
            “You really should eat it…did you eat it yet?”
            End scene with me hiding in pantry with said chocolate now staining my fingers and the edges of my mouth.  Like a zombie with brains.
            I’ve begun to be perturbed by my relationship with food as of late, because I know that feel healthier when I eat healthy foods, cleaner, lighter, and better.  Yet I still will choose sugar and carbohydrates over fruit and vegetables, almost every time.  Why?  Why do I keep doing that?  Lately, that little girl at my elbow that tells me to eat all the time has gotten really annoying.  Why is she there?  Why do I feel the need to eat constantly?   I think a hangover from pregnancy and nursing is being afraid of being hungry.  When I feel that first little gnaw in my belly, I get a little frightened. 
            Awhile back Emma and I had come home from some morning event and I was trying to make lunch, her toy rolled under the coffee table.
            “Mommy, I need my toy,” she interrupts me.  Tears streaming down her face, panic fully evident across her sweet little cheeks.
            “I can’t help you right now,” I responded, trying to pull together something from the nothing that was in our fridge.  Our exchanges continued, it escalated.  I refused to get the toy because it was pushed into a place where I could not retrieve it fast enough for my taste.  I sat us down and we both shoveled the food into our mouths.  Slowly the anger and frustration receded, I felt myself relax.  ‘Oh, we were hungry.’  Ever since that exchange I’ve become wary of growing too hungry.  If I get too low, it gets ugly.
            Lately I’ve been letting my eldest watch TV while her sister naps (which either makes me the best or the worst parent ever, depending on your opinion), she was watching an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  An animated rewrite of Mr. Roger’s neighborhood.  A song chimed out,
            “Stop, Look, and Listen,” it repeated it’s saccharin tones to levels annoying, but as it twinkled on I thought,
            ‘Wait, you should stop, look, and listen,’ when that little voice at my elbow asks me if I have devoured every morsel of chocolate in the house I should ‘stop, look, and listen.’  Why is that voice there?  Am I stressed out?  Am I angry?  Am I sad?      
            Yesterday I got hungry, I checked my phone, 10am.  Snack time.  I mean, it's snack time for my kids, doesn't mommy get one too.  Well, Mommy you are no longer growing, and don't go everywhere at a run.  I told myself, 'it's okay, just be hungry.  You'll live.'  I 'stopped, looked, and listened.'  I was fine, I made it to lunch.  And no one lost their head.
            Right now it’s the end of the day, my husband has left to rip up pergo flooring from our new house, there is Cadbury bar in the kitchen.  That little voice by my elbow has turned from little girl into full raging monster,
‘Finish It!’ I hear, like that voice in Mortal Kombat.  Why?  Because my husband is gone I feel like I deserve a treat?  The girls went down easy, in fact I had a nice time playing with Emma before she went to sleep.  Is it because I am alone?  But here I am finishing a blog that I’ve been intending to write for days.  I’ll try some of Terkeurst’s tricks, praying, reciting scripture.  Realizing that maybe I’m not as stressed as I think I am. 

I keep thinking that I should just let myself eat whatever I want until I am through with all the transition that we have.  So much stress, just eat it.  But then life is stressful.  All the time.  There’s always something.  I’ll just let myself until my kids are in school…I’ll just let myself until summer…

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cookie Monster

            I have thought long and hard about writing about this, it seems almost too personal.  I like to pretend that I am above this subject.  I like to think that I am too mature, too confident, too comfortable in my own skin for all this nonsense.  Unfortunately….
            Once upon a time I believed that I was above emotional eating.  I had a breakthrough in junior high, I had a crush on a boy.  A boy that I would never know….all right it was Christian Slater.  (This is going to get so personal.)  I bought a tub of Haagen Daz, ate it, and afterwards all I had was a stomach ache.  So I never did that again.  I thought my brilliant logic had protected me from (as a friend once said) ‘pile driving carbs into my face’ when I was sad.  I smugly believed this fallacy for many years, until…
            I stood in the kitchen, half empty boxes were strewn around me, almost everything was almost empty, but not quite.  I mentally inventoried the contents of the cupboard, half finished bag of almonds, some prunes, six month old crackers. None of it normally tempting, but right now I wanted to eat it all.  We had not closed on our house yet, but the time had come to move out of our apartment and into temporary housing while we waited on the process to be completed.  We had ‘faith’ that it would and acted in such.  Then why, as I stood in that kitchen, was the only thing on my mind shoving food into my face?  An epiphany blew the face of my own lies,
            ‘I am a stress eater,’ the thought rang out in my head.  I love eating.  Some days I think I am just sitting around waiting for the next time I get to eat.  I love food.  I have met very few foods that I do not like.  Okay that’s a lie… So personal…
            Dill. I don’t like dill.  Do not try to convince me of otherwise.  I know that I hate it.  It’s okay, I like almost everything.  So I feel justified in hating dill.
            I have been trying, vainly (pun intended) to ‘lose that last five pounds.’  In that quest I have started tracking my food intake on the website  My husband thinks I am crazy.  I eat pretty healthy and I don’t feel like I eat all that much at meals… so what’s the deal?  One day I ate 600 extra calories in just random stuff I popped in my face.  Handing out goldfish crackers to my kids?  Some for Mommy.  Someone brought in brownies?  One down the mouth hole.  Bought donut holes to keep kids happy?  I like the classic kind, down the hatch. 
            As we’ve been moving and in a time of huge transition my ability to say no to extra dessert has left the building.  I’ve thought about this.  I’m not overweight.  My husband is still interested.  Why does this matter? 
            But is this healthy?  That I want to shove food down my pie hole when I’m stressed out?  Shouldn’t I have better ways of coping?  Sure the occasional glass of wine or chocolate cupcake isn’t going to cause an early death, but should I go there every time the mercury rises?  I’ve been thinking about how to invite God into this, before when I’ve prayed about losing weight I swear I’ve heard,
            ‘Or you could learn to accept yourself, Lara,’ which is not really the answer I want. 
            Let me level with you for a moment before you start typing very encouraging notes to me about how thin I am, most of the time I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got.  I know that I am more than the sum of my body parts.  I am my intellect, my passions, my personality, my love, and all those parts of me I like.  I just think there should be a better way of dealing with stress with more caffeine and sugar than I would like to admit.  Openly, on the internet.  For all to see in black letters. 
            I bought a copy of the book ‘Made to Crave,’ it’s sitting unopened beside me on the couch.  Ready for its maiden voyage.   All the testimonials on the inside of the cover talk about how happy they are and they started losing weight, and they can’t believe it.  And I think, ‘that’s not the point.’  I don’t want to make this about losing weight all the time.  I don’t want to live my life in bondage to the way my pants feel around my waistline.
            But I do want to stop ‘going into survival mode’ and for stressful periods, mama gets what mama wants.  That is usually chocolate, wine, and large cups of coffee (just in case you were confused.).  We are in another period of transition and stress in our lives, I felt myself pouring that glass and sinking into that hole.  I keep thinking, ‘isn’t there a better way?’

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Way Past Post Partum

On Monday I saw that someone had posted a video of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor leaving the hospital with the royal baby.  I try to avoid celebrity gossip, I get sucked in by glossy photos of the beautiful people and then I always feel a little dirty afterwards.  I don’t know these people, why should I know these details of their lives?  Is my life so boring that I live through theirs?  Usually I feel badly afterwards like I’ve seen something I shouldn’t have, and I always feel a little poorer and a little frumpier.  But I have become a sucker for babies, so I clicked.   Here’s my inner monologue during the one minute viewing,
Wait…what, she let them video her while leaving the hospital?  Girl is crazy…well I guess it’s expected of her.  Wow, how insightful of her to have picked a maternity dress, someone must have told her.  She is wearing makeup and has her hair done?  Maybe the nurses held the baby?  Well, she is a princess, I’m sure she has lots of help…Awwww, his daddy is holding him.  So cute…all right, I’m over it, time to go change the laundry.
Sure, there was some satisfaction tinged around the fact that she still looks six months pregnant.  But, really, that’s actually great.  Makes the rest of feel, well, normal.  We see our friends with their leftover bellies, but does that happen to everyone?  Aren’t their people who leave in their pre-pregnancy clothes?  Wouldn’t the rich and famous be those that did? 
Nope, there she was, with her leftover belly.  I loved it.  I felt sorry for her and was a bit proud of this person that I do not know.
Then I heard that people were making rude comments about her.  That her workout regime was posted in a magazine.  That people were tweeting that she looked gross. 
Wait…what, that’s unreasonable!  The woman just had a baby!  It takes your uterus six weeks to go back down!  These people must not have children.  They should be spanked.  Or have their right to tweet revoked.  Most women leave the hospital in sweats and very large underwear.  She looks great.  What idiots.
I was talking to friend about it, a friend I can admit my guilty pleasures to and my silly inner monologues.  She had this to say,
“Maybe we shouldn’t be seeing her?” Simple and so wise.  We’ll keep her around. 
Every time I see a shot of a woman who is pregnant and in the spotlight I feel bad for her.  Pregnancy is the great equalizer of women, something nasty happens to all of us.  I would hate to be scrutinized through that nine months.  I don’t blame women like Angelina Jolie, who gave birth in Africa, I’m sure she did it to make a statement about Africa and I’m sure she didn’t mind being away from all the cameras.

On Wednesday I drove a half an hour to buy blue and white porcelain lamps from a Craigslist ad.  I had this conversation with the woman that I purchasing the lamps from,
“We just bought a house in Gloucester, so I’ve been spending a lot of time on Craigslist,” me, feeling like I need to explain my silly Craiglist habit.
“Craigslist is great,” she smiles, “So you’re expecting another one,” she motions one hand toward my belly.
“Nope, no I’m not, I think we’re done,” I say, a tight smile stretching my lips out.  I gaze away from her giving her the space to beck pedal, or, even, apologize.
“Oh, you have kids, how old are they?” she asks, so even though you’ve just insulted me we’re still having a friendly conversation.  Okay.
“They’re three and one,” I reply, still stretching that smile.
“Oh one?  So that’s why you still have the baby belly,” she says.  I think she thought she was excusing herself, and not digging the verbal grave she had started shoveling out deeper. 
Yes, I still bought the lamps.  I liked them, they were a steal.  I was still polite.  When I relayed the story to my friend who had come with me (same friend as above) she said,
“I’ve seen you at Gull [Pond, in a bathing suit] I would punch someone to look like you.”  She’s a good friend, we’ll keep her around.
When I relayed the story to my husband he asked,
“Did you punch her?”  No I didn’t.  Another friend said that maybe I just had ‘food baby.’  She’s probably right.
What this woman didn’t know is that my abdominal wall is not the same after carrying and birthing a nine pound child.  It did not go back quite right, my abdominals are still bowed outwards, and there seems to be not much I can do about it other than accept it.  I actually had grown more accepting of it in the last few months.  I bought a one piece that makes feel sexy, I feel comfortable in it and I’m not afraid that my jumblies are going to fall out.  I look around and say, ‘for a thirty one year old woman who has had two kids, you still look pretty good.’  I focus on my fitness, how far I can run, how I am improving in yoga, and I feel strong and healthy.  My husband is still interested…all good, right?
That night it didn’t bother me.  One flippant comment from some insensitive woman.  Oh well.  Move on.
The next day I woke up with an emotional hang over.  I was foggy, tired, and incredibly sore from the track workout that I had done the day before.  All the work I had done in the past few months felt gone, swept away by some stranger.  All day I thought about throwing myself on the floor and doing crunches like a mad woman.  Finally I fought it.  Damn it all.  Aren’t I more than just my appearance?  Is that all that matters?  Certainly not, right?
Then I thought about Kate Middleton, in her world she has to make sure that she looks flawless at all times, or she gets raked over the coals in every periodical in England and the US.  Even right after giving birth.  When it should be your God given right to sit around unwashed in a robe for as long as you please.  To fall asleep on the couch undisturbed with a child nestled in your shoulder.  To discover the deeply frightening emotions that accompany bringing a child into the world without having to or being able to articulate them.
I also feel that my abdominal is no one else’s business.  And neither should Kate’s be.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

On Sunday after church we went into our new house.  Without a real estate agent, an appraiser, we didn't have to tell anyone that we were coming, there was no one there telling what we could and could not do, or the terms of this or the terms of that.  We walked up, turned the key in the lock and walked in.
It smelled.
Like smoke, and other people.  It looked like dirt, smoke, and other people.  We had friends with us who had taken on an extensive renovation job for their first home purchase.  They found a stair that looked as if it had once hidden drugs.  They picked at wall paper with us.  They marveled at the stained rug and made suggestions about how it gotten so dirty so fast.
Eventually the went home and we were left alone.  Scott started picking at the corners of the floors and pulling up whole sections of carpet.  He found linoleum underneath.  Then he found more linoleum underneath.  Then he found glue.  Then he found sheets of black paper underneath.  Then he found slats of wood.  Original wide pine floors.
I dug my fingernails into corner of walls and started peeling wallpaper.  My three year old comes up to me,
"Yeah, I can help," she says.  I point to a corner of decrepit paper and let her pull.  She lasts for a few moments and then runs away.  I stand in my Sunday best and peel almost a complete wall of paper in one pull.  Then I find more paper underneath.  It looks old, from a decade I can't pinpoint, certainly one I didn't live in, and maybe even one my parents didn't live in.  I dig a fingernail into that paper, tiny pieces flick off.  Not the big large satisfying strips.  That stuff is gonna take more work.  I give up.
We leave, I have dirt patches on my black dress, dust in the corners of my eyes.  My toes hurt from being pushed in the corners of my heels.  I am happy to leave to change clothes and put my exhausted baby to bed.  Eager to stay because I want to take more away.  Peel off each layer of former owner and make it mine.

"So you're all moved in right?" my dad asks on the phone.
"Um, no, we won't move in until October..." my voice trails off, my throat closes a little over the words.  The out loud, real expression of what we're going through right now.  I told him when the contractor would start.  He said that sounded like a lot, my voice cracked, and I admitted how stressed out I really was.  He was comforting and conciliatory, like a good father.
I could it all by myself, with Scott and me and our duffle bags, but with two little girls it just gets so complicated.  So harried.  So much crying, mine and the girls.

This morning Scott and I had 'the talk,' the real, out loud, talk about when we are moving where and how we are going to get through the next few months, while we lose our temporary housing and in between while our new house will be livable.  In a week we will move out of the dorm that we are staying in.  We will spend three weeks in a cabin in the Adirondacks, then we will spend the month of September in Colorado while he leads a wilderness expedition and I stay with his parents.
It's a lot.  It makes me want to cry.  I am nervous about leaving and not having decisions made for the contractor.  I am nervous about leaving the house with work undone and coming back in October to a half whole house and no where to stay.

In the meantime we have visited Home Depot twice.  I have spent quite a few hours on Craigslist buying new old furniture.  I have Googled 'retro bathroom,' 'vintage cabinet pulls,' 'how to paint laminate cabinets,' and 'bathroom floor tile' just to start.  I have been diverted from completing real tasks to sit and ogle websites of bathrooms and flooring.  So whilst the stress of all of this looms high and mighty in the end it will taste so sweet.  So sweet.