Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Beach baby

Ever since spring break, I have been seeing ads for weight loss and exercise that tout getting your body "beach ready." Many people before me have had the same reaction that I am having, and I'm sure many have expressed it better than I'm about to, but enough is enough.

I think exercise is great. If you want to lose weight, you should go for it. Being healthy is important for both physical and mental well-being. That all being said, quit thinking that people have to look a certain way to enjoy summer activities like the pool or the beach. For the love of God, y'all, summertime is about staying cool, playing, lazy days, ice cream, sunblock, and enjoying oneself. Every single one of us has a beach body: it's our own body that we take with us to the beach. (Don't try to take another body to the beach; that could get creepy.) But, really, what's the hang up? A few extra pounds? Lots of extra pounds? I get it. I have those; however, I'm not going to let that stop me from having a good time.

Here's the thing that might shock you. It's a big one, so brace yourselves. Ready? Deep breath.

No one is really looking at you in your bathing suit.

Well, let's amend that. Yes, people are looking at you in your suit. People actually see you in your suit. Those people, though, don't really think about you after you have passed their line of sight. Why? Because those people are too damn worried about themselves to worry about you and what you're wearing. For the most part, we are selfish creatures. Our vanity overrides many other emotions, so we're more concerned with sucking in our own stomachs than watching other people do the same. Can there be a certain amount of pride in seeing someone at the beach and feeling like we look better? Sure, but I imagine that feeling doesn't last more than a minute. And if you're still thinking about how much better you looked than that other person when you go home at night, you have a problem, and you're kind of a creeper.

My daughter is only 12, and she started having worries about her body image a couple of years ago. That's not something that is innate: that's learned behavior from constantly being barraged with "get skinny" ads. For a long time, I reminded her of all the things her body does for her every day, and that she needs to appreciate it for what it is. The hardest part of that phase was showing her that I can accept my own body for what it is as well. I'll do anything for her, though, and the more I talked to her about it, the easier it got. This body of mine carries extra weight, sure, but it has also served me well in the last 46 years. This body gave me two beautiful, smart, generous, and kind children; this body got me through thyroid cancer; this body helped me pack up and move three houses; this body kept everything as normal as possible while Trevor was fighting colorectal cancer. When I think about it in those terms, I hate that I am always trying to fit the societal norm of what a body should look like.

 So to you, my faithful bag of bones, I ain't mad at cha. As a matter of fact, the past few years of my forties have taught me to give zero fu...I mean, cares, about most stuff that happens. I'm proud of who I am, I'm proud of what I have accomplished, and I couldn't have done any of it without the body that houses my brain, my heart, and my soul. My beach body and I will be at the Dunes this summer, and my pool body and I will be swimming. If you see us, make sure you catch our attention to say hello because chances are we'll be having too much fun in the sun to really notice everyone else around us.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

4,380 days

My girl,
Just like that, you are twelve years old. Things are changing quickly these days: new school, new friends, new feelings. This journey is yours, but we're all along for the ride with you as well. As you experience new situations, so do we, albeit in an entirely different way. When we brought you home, I remember thinking that I had absolutely no clue what to do with you. I figured it out, but diapers and baby food all seems easy compared to what's coming now. (Lack of sleep was not easy. Truly. No sleep almost killed me.)

 The next few years are going to be full of ups and downs, and you have such a tender heart that I tend to worry about you. We have already dealt with mean girls at school, the new academic load, all of the extracurricular choices, and lying friends. You have faced each challenge with a true desire to do the right thing - the good thing - but you're also finding out how difficult that can be when peer pressure rules its ugly head. With each week that passes, though, I become less and less worried. I watch you go through all of the options and decide which one feels best to you. You usually pick the choice that won't hurt other people, and we have talked about how that's not always the way to go. Lately, you're looking at the bigger picture: how the choice may affect the future, how the choice may affect others, how the choice may affect you. I'm proud of you for looking at a situation from all angles before tackling it, and I'm even prouder that you are standing up for yourself.

One of the things I love the most about you is how loving and inclusive you are to everyone and everything. You came with me to say goodbye to Judy even though it broke your heart because you knew both Judy and I needed you. You make both Minny and Honey know how much they are loved, and whether you realize it or not, you make Dallas feel important and adored, too.  From the time you were a little girl, you have never met a stranger. You're the first to welcome someone new to your class or talk to the kid at the park who is playing alone. Often before I knew it, you were dragging your "new best friend" over to meet me and then running off just as quickly to play. I want you to always be a kind person - always. I don't want you to forget, though, that you matter, too.

My advice for you in this new year of your life is to keep love, kindness, and acceptance in your heart, but take no guff. Hang on to the friends who build you up instead of tear you down, and be sure you build them up, too. Ignore the meanness and jealousy that inevitably pops up in the coming years because when it's all said and done, none of it really matters. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Be strong enough to walk away from it with your head held high in the knowledge that you're on the side of good. If people make fun of you for that, so be it. That makes it easy for you to recognize them as people you neither want nor need in your life. Remember what Dumbledore said, "It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends."

I know that you know all of this; we talk about it a lot. When you're in the middle of it, though, it's hard to remember exactly what to do or how to feel. This is where it gets hard for me and for most parents. My instinct is to swoop in and fix it all so you never have to feel any pain or disappointment. Of course, realistically, that's not possible nor is it healthy. I have to loosen my grip a little and let you make your own mistakes and learn from them. Man, that's hard. I know that I have to let it happen now so you feel confident making your own decisions in the future. You can always come to me for help or with questions or just to talk: I promise that I'll be your soft place to fall. But it's time for you to start spreading your wings. Don't spread them too far, too fast, though. I may seem pretty zen about all of this now, but I'm not ready for nose piercing or dates or college applications. Not yet.

Thank you for making me a mom, for making me laugh every day, and for being such a unique and amazing human being. There is no one else like you.

As you would say, you're so SPICY!!

All my love,