Thursday, April 23, 2015

A little bit imperfect is still mostly great.


Yesterday, I posted this picture to Instagram and Facebook, mainly to show off my CAbi top for my friend who is a CAbi consultant (and who had good-naturedly teased me about all my Jamberry nail posts). I didn't really expect for this picture to generate, at present count, 57 "likes" and a lot of very flattering comments about my appearance.  (Fifty-seven likes!  That's a number usually reserved for adorableness a la The Boy!)

mean, I'm always confident.  And I think I'm pretty, but I don't always like everything I see in the mirror.  Even in this picture, which got such praise, I found fault with the size of my hips and thighs and calves, and debated whether to post it or not.

This is my four years post-baby body. It's also my middle aged lady body, rapidly hurtling towards 45 years. This is a lady who is 15 pounds heavier than when she found out she was pregnant in July of 2010, and 20+ pounds heavier than when she got married in January 2008.  The dominant sizes in her closet are 12s and 14s, a few generously sized size-10 tops, and size ladies large or men's medium tees and cardigans.  Her measurements on the date this photo was taken were as follows:  bust 39, waist 33, hips 43.  Not quite a perfect hourglass, but close . . . .

I beat myself up about this body a lot, and always have.  (It's the national pastime of most American women, I think.) And as I age and the metabolism slows and weight loss gets harder and harder, I can, at times, be really judgy about myself, my diet failures (late night snacking - gah!!!), my sometimes not-so-great exercise regime.  But comments from folks like "you are gorgeous," "WOW," and "you always look amazing," made me think. I mean, they made me step outside myself and look.

Is this perfection -- either by my own standards to some industry standard?  Well, no.  But this looks good.  (I was about to write the clause "even if I'm a bit more hippy than I'd like," but I stopped myself. This looks good.)  At 44.75 years of age, I know how to work with what I've got, even if what I've got is not my idea of ideal.  And I owe it to my Facebook friends for pointing that out to me yesterday.  My husband and son always compliment me, but you can fall into the habit of taking those comments for granted.  (I should stop that.) 

Of course, this doesn't mean that I won't stop trying to get the last 15 pounds of "baby" weight off, but it was so nice to be reminded that a little bit imperfect is still mostly great. Thanks, friends.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Our Self-Subjugation

We make it hard on ourselves.

I mean, individually, we women, we working moms, we stay-at-home moms, we something-in-betweenness:  we set impossible standards for ourselves.

We put pressure on ourselves where none needs to be:  breast feeding, home schooling, family dinner, organic foods, television, co-sleeping, cry-it-out, baby wearing, attachment parenting, time outs . . . our weight, our looks.

And we judge our friends as harshly as we judge ourselves.

I guess I was reminded of this recently, by this video, a Similac formula commercial, for Pete's sake.  It shows us all in all of our self-righteous glory -- even the baby-wearing dads.

And while we are judging -- ourselves, our friends -- we are doing only one thing.  With all of our self-imposed requirements of parenthood, we are subjugating ourselves as people.  We are crushing ourselves under the weight of expectations that we have no right to demand.  Enslaved by the breast pump.  Defeated by words like organic, natural, free range and whole grain.  Conquered by a thousand "better" methods to discipline and control (indeed, subjugate?) our children.  A tyranny of a crowd of "better ways" and obligations and judgments and joyless self-sacrifice . . . all in the name of "good parenting."  We hold ourselves back and down with our lofty ambitions, instead of pushing ourselves up and forward.

We are parents.  We are love.  Our children are joy.  We should rise and praise and smile and encourage.  Just as we do with our kids, we should do with ourselves, and each other.

"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so let us all be thankful." --  Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha 

I am thankful for my health, and my family, and my job . . . and I am thankful for you diverse crowd of parent peers who do things differently than me, or the same as me, or somewhere in the middle.

I am glad we are all trying.