Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What's Your Excuse?

Have you seen the latest big Facebook controversy? I'm not going to include a photo because I'm still not clear on copyright infringement blah blah blah, but it's an image of a woman surrounded by her three children, ages 3, 2, and 8 months. She is dressed in a sports bra and fitted shorts. She is very attractive and in great shape. The caption reads, "What's Your Excuse?"

Cue: Internet firestorm. 

I will not travel down the road of slamming the woman in the picture. I don't know her. I don't know whether she has great genetics (maybe), or works out hours and hours a day (very likely), or adheres to a very strict diet (my guess would be yes). What I do know is that at some point she's made some significant sacrifices to look the way she does. And she does look good. I'm sure having a body like that makes her feel happy and confident and complete in some way. Good for her. We all deserve to feel good about ourselves.

HOWEVER. I do take exception with the caption.
"What's your excuse?"

I'm sure the intended message was supposed to be motivational. Something along the lines of, "This woman is super busy with 3 young children, yet she has managed to stay in shape. You can do it, too!"

But (at least in my case), that was not the message received. It might as well have read, "What's your problem? Are you lazy? You must not be trying hard enough. IF YOU DON'T LOOK LIKE THIS, YOU SUCK."

I don't look like that.

And for a minute, I was pretty down on myself. Then I started to reflect. 

I've been moderately active for most of my adult life. Actually, for most of my life. I'm not overweight, but neither am I "skinny" or super fit. A few years ago I ran 3 half-marathons in the span of about 12 months. Not a monumental feat, but it was a big deal for me. While I was training, I would run several times a week - sometimes more than 10 miles at a time. And I still didn't look like that. I have never looked like that. I will probably never look like that.

I don't LOVE working out. I do it for my health, and to prevent myself from needing a new wardrobe. I do it so I can go skiing and hiking and bike riding with my family. I do it so I can play catch with my son, and do cartwheels in the yard with my daughter.

What I do love is having a few glasses of wine on the patio with my husband. I love making brownies with my daughter and fighting over who gets the last lick of the batter bowl. I love going out to our favorite pizza dive on Friday night and drinking a cold beer out of a tall, frosty mug. I love catching up with my husband on Saturday morning after a hectic week, snuggled under a blanket with a steamy cup of coffee. Or three. These things make me happy. But, they also prevent me from looking like a swimsuit model. Whatever.

Sure I'd like to lose a few pounds. Always. I also know I'd have to give up a lot of the things I listed above to get to where she is. So, what's my "excuse"? 

Maybe it's that I'm okay with me...just the way I am. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

You're Not Ready for This

I watched the movie "Juno" this weekend. There's a scene where Jennifer Affleck and Jason Bateman's characters have a conversation about whether or not they are ready to be parents.

I've witnessed this conversation in real life. In fact, I had this conversation with my husband before we decided to start a family. It went like this, "We have jobs. We have somewhere to live. We know how to hold a baby, and feed a baby, and dress a baby, and play with a baby. We're totally ready."

What a couple of idiots.

We may have understood the basics of childcare, but we were in NO WAY prepared to be parents. Hell. I've been a parent for almost 13 years and I'm still not ready.

You can read all of the parenting books and attend all of the parenting classes and listen to all the advice of your friends and parents and grandparents, and still not be prepared for...

Calling to check on your infant soon after returning to work only to hear them crying in the background. Then looking down to see giant circles of milk leaking on to your shirt. And you have a staff meeting in 5 minutes.

Leaving a full cart in the middle of the grocery store because your toddler puked all over you. And aisle 3. 

Holding down a sick child to give them breathing treatments. Every 4 hours. Around the clock. 

Watching your child throw themselves on the ground and have a tantrum right in the middle of the mall. And talking yourself out of leaving them there. 

Counting number of poops. Cleaning up poop. Touching poop. Finding poop. Ohmygodsomuchpoop.

PBS Kids and the Disney Channel. ALL. DAY. LONG.

Cleaning puke out of a 5-point carseat. With travel-sized tissues. Because you're out running errands. And you forgot to pack EVERYTHING IN YOUR HOUSE. 

Staying up all night in an emergency room because your 2 year-old can't breathe. 

Listening, helpless, to your child scream as they try to find a vein for an IV because she's dehydrated. And realizing you would do anything in the world to just trade places with her.

Family portraits in black crayon on newly painted pink bedroom walls. Or carvings into expensive dining room tables. And chairs. 

Taking care of a baby that has a stomach virus. And you have it, too

Holding your breath after dropping your kid off at school because once on a Friday morning in December, some parents in Connecticut said good-bye for the last time. And not a day goes by that it doesn't cross your mind as you watch them walk away. 

The guilt. Ohmygodsomuchguilt.

Consoling your crying child over hurt feelings. And trying not to cry yourself because you remember.

The fear of failing.

But mostly? Mostly I wasn't prepared for a love so big and encompassing and unconditional that it's as if I'm wearing my heart on the outside of my body. Forever.