I Want *MY* Sexy Back.


Everyday I am bombarded with images of beautiful women. Photoshopped, inhuman, airbrushed, makeup-ed and unnaturally beautiful women. It’s a problem, we all know it. Yet like a drug we can’t quit it. But those are not the things that drive me insane. Just like Freddy Kruger I know they aren’t real. So I ignore it.

Yet, in the same overbearing, in-your-face way I get just as much imagery and blog posts to “love who you are,” “accept your mom body,” “all humans are beautiful.” Truth be told…they annoy the crap out of me.

Don’t get me wrong, the message is great. We talk too negatively to ourselves daily, and CPS would be called on us if we uttered HALF of the same things to our children. People would call us abusive if we commented on our spouses bodies the way we do our own, and we sure as hell wouldn’t have any friends left if we told them the same things we tell ourselves. We surely need to change the way we talk to ourselves, without doubt.

But the truth is…I don’t know how.

I don’t want to be a super model, I never did. I like food too much. I don’t want to be an actress, or famous, or Miss America…I just want MY sexy back.

When you’re 20 something, you daily dress in super revealing and adorable clothing, flirt with everything, take hours primping, check out your butt, push up your boobs, on and on. We all try so hard when we’re 20 something. But at one point or another throughout the day, I always felt sexy. Even when I didn’t. I knew all my clothes fit, my skin was nice, and I still had the high school body. So even when I did what all girls do (Hellooooooo Mean Girls) there was still some part of me that felt sexy.

At 26 I got sick. I gained 65 pounds. I got acne for the first time in my life. I was exhausted ALL. THE. TIME. But…I still felt sexy most days. I felt like my husband was still attracted to me, we still had sex often, I still wore sexy little outfits for him, sex wasn’t confined to the bedroom (sorry mom).

But then I had a baby.


Something shifted. Something changed…something disappeared inside me.

I can tell you the exact day I last felt sexy. April 18, 2013. I sent my husband a video. Yes. THAT kind of video. I was pregnant, but not massive. I could still see my toes, I’d gotten a pedicure that day, I’d just gotten my hair cut, and because I was pregnant my skin had cleared up. It was nothing special. No anniversary or special date, no rhyme or reason. I just simply felt sexy.

Now. That was 2 years and 4 months ago. Approximately 850 days. That’s a stupid long time to not even kind of feel sexy. I’ve thought, “Maybe it’s because I’m bigger now.” That’s some of it, but not most of it. “Maybe because my skin is still bad, and regardless of what I do I can’t change it.” Well. That’s a pretty large part too…as well as my extreme stretch marks, my unshaven legs for lack of time, my deformed belly because little man was unbelievably massive, my chipped toenail polish, my ripped cuticles, my lack of clothing that truly fits, my newfound loathing of jeans, my new inability to wear heels, my perma-messy bun…the list just grows.

I hear the feminists screaming: You don’t need all that crap! That is society brainwashing you and you should do what makes YOU happy! My husband tells me regularly I’m beautiful and we still regularly have sex, and even my lesbian roommate has said she can appreciate “my womanly-ness”.


But I don’t. That’s the problem. How you flip back the trigger after having one body for 30 years, then one day waking up from a haze of months of sleepless nights, a healing vagina and ab muscles, a diet of chicken nuggets and fish sticks, and literally foregoing every feminine thing you used to do daily because a toddler makes them impossible? How do you accept this alien body you are suddenly stuck in? How do you remove decades of society’s unattainable standards and go back 200 years to days when a mom body was sexier than the post teen body because you gave life? How do you learn to love ALL of you, when the mirror view of you is just disheartening and depressing? How do you learn to believe the loving words your spouse tells you over and over when your internal voice just maliciously laughs and says “Yea right.”

How do I bring MY sexy back?

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I’m Not Sure I Was Meant To Be A Mom…

  
It’s 9:10am, my son is eating breakfast, finally. Not “finally” because he won’t eat…but because I couldn’t pull myself out of bed. he’s been up since 7:15. Because of technology, he’s able to watch a show while snuggling with mom (something he loves), while I can sleep longer and know he won’t move. I finally got out of bed solely because he was having a tantrum because my phone suddenly wouldn’t work. At all. Siri, the dumb robot, worked. Not well, obviously, but that was it. A touch phone is useless if you can’t actually TOUCH anything. I have a screaming headache, my husband is gone for another 6 days on his business trip, I have no time for my work, I’ve only left the house in three weeks to feed my son and get groceries…I haven’t even talked to my mom in weeks. I’m in a bad mood and angry. Again.

No. I lied. I leave to go to meetings. What used to annoy me and feel like I wasted gas half the time (this is why we have Zoom!) now feels like a welcome vacation. I put on makeup, I fix my hair, I wear real clothes…I talk to an adult!! Sometimes the meetings go “longer than I intended”, but truth be told it’s because I don’t want to go home. But that means I have to pay a sitter. By not having much time to work right now, I kinda feel like I’m robbing Peter to pay Paul.

  
I’m rambling a bit, but I feel like I have to paint the picture…this is normal for me. I’m too tired to go anywhere, I’m too tired to DO anything, I yell a lot, and we watch way more TV than I’m comfortable with. I work until 2 and 3am because after 9 is the only time the house is quiet and I can focus, but that means I average no more than 5 hours of sleep a night. My house is a disaster because I just don’t have the energy to care, and we eat out way more than we should because when my son is actually taking a good nap, I don’t dare get up from the computer lest my eating causes my son to instinctively know I’m taking a break.

I was an amazing teacher, and a fantastic nanny. Two years after I stopped nannying, the kids not only remembered me but requested I come over while they were back in the states. Innumerable parents have come up to me, 15 years after the fact, and say “My kid still remembers when you babysat! They loved you! You were always their favorite!” Parents at my preschool were constantly asking if I could sit, or be a part time nanny during summer. I played with them, we made epic messes, we had awesome crafts, they were always fed good food, they went to bed and nap on time, we went on adventures, and the house was always clean when the parents came back.

  

My son has never had any of that from me.

I feel like I’m failing him because even though I use techniques to teach him to drink from a cup, eat with a fork, recognize letters and numbers, even sign until he can verbally communicate…I’m not fun. I’m kind of a bitch, to be honest. I always wondered why my mom would yell so much, now all I do is yell. There are days I just don’t even want to be around him.

It’s not his fault, he’s brilliant and beautiful and inquisitive and everything a toddler SHOULD be. But instead of reveling in the fact that I now have a constant playmate to build forts with and teach the cool science of cornstarch and water…I get irritated he won’t leave the kitchen while I cook. Because he wants to be held.

I love my son beyond words, but I can’t help but feel like maybe I wasn’t supposed to be a mom. Maybe I was just supposed to be the awesome aunt, because my child isn’t getting a quarter of what I gave to other people’s kids for years…and he deserves so much more than that.

When Mom Doesn’t Listen

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Please, it’s not just your business. It’s your obligation to help.

We’ve all been there. The baby or toddler is screaming because it sounds awesome (to THEM), the older child is threatening the younger for touching his toys, the preteen is talking and talking (aaaaaaaaand talking) about the cute boy in Math…we hear constant noise like the hum of the water heater. We know it’s there, we know it’s making noise…we just have tuned it out. We become animated in our enthusiastic responses of positivity, and completely nonchalant in breaking up fights or removing the tantrum-throwing toddler from the garbage, again. We don’t listen to keep our sanity.

But what about when we SHOULD have listened? What about when the preschooler is urgently trying to tell you something about a classmate that would save the classmate from abuse? What about the teenager that is sobbing uncontrollably about the love of their life – from this week? What about the toddler that tried to tell you in his distress, that he didn’t feel safe?

My grandmother told me once, when I was just starting to babysit, that I needed to listen (REALLY listen) when a child was telling me something they thought was important. Because to them, at that moment, it IS important, regardless of how jaded and tainted our opinions are as adults of what’s important.

The other day, I had such flagrant disregard for my son’s important. But like so many moms, so many times, I dismissed it.

“Oh, he’s not sleeping because he learned to climb out of bed.” “Oh he’s hungry because he refuses to eat anything but goldfish.” “Oh he’s going through a clingy phase…”

I dropped him off at daycare, the same daycare I use all the time. He LOVES this daycare, he knows the name and even when he cries a bit when I pass him off to the teacher, he’s totally fine and forgotten about mommy within five minutes.

But this time, there were different teachers than normal. This time, when I walked in, he totally. Lost. His. Shit. We’re talking completely and totally ballistic. I tried to calm him in the teacher’s arms, then I took him to calm him myself. I even brought him in to play with the other littles, let him see the trucks they had. Then I got up to leave. Again he lost it. I chose to give him a kiss and walk out. I had work to do. I needed a mommy break. I had deadlines.

I had an uneasy feeling about it.

I called three times to follow up. As a work at home mom I get the blessing of being a block away from his daycare at the Starbucks. I reiterated that if he was inconsolable, or if anything seemed wrong, I was five minutes away. I would come get him. “He’s fine.” Every phone call: “He’s fine.”

I still didn’t feel right. My husband offered to pick hm up and have “dude time” while I met some deadlines. “No. It’s ok. They said he’s fine.”

Three hours later I came back to get him. He heard my voice and completely lost it yet again. As he was brought over to me the teacher said “There’s no need for that,” as he damn near leapt from her to me. Once in my arms it took 45 seconds until he was completely calm. Truth be told the first thought was “What the bloody F%^& is happening?!”

I’m going to interject here with the statement that I trust children’s and animal’s instinct irrevocably. They know things we as adults have forgotten or just blatantly ignored. They are always right.

So daycare. I ask the teacher how he did, what he ate, if he calmed down. She gave answers I was not happy about on any level. She said he never really got put down and was extremely clingy (my child is not clingy. He is rather heartbreakingly independent and gets irritated when I make him hold my hand in public to keep him from running). She said he was wet and put the whole diaper in the wet bag (I pack two covers and seven inserts in my diaper bag, So logic states that if one cover is in the wet bag, and he needs changed again, how do you change him? Do you leave him in the dirty diaper because you have no covers to use?). But the one that set me off, was that he didn’t eat. At all.   “Are you sick little man?!” I say to him in a panic. He eats like a 4 year old. More so at daycare. So when he doesn’t eat something is extremely wrong.

“Well, he picked at his goldfish and ate the whole package of the three crackers.”

“So he ate no lunch?! At ALL?!” Again. I panic. “He usually eats all of his and tries to steal others’ food!”

“Oh. We didn’t feed him lunch. I didn’t see it marked down so I just gave him the snacks.”

I’m pretty sure, knowing how transparent my face is, that I gave a look of murder. So you decided not to feed my non-verbal baby while every other child ate in front of him even though I only had goldfish crackers in my diaper bag?!?! I told her he was hypoglycemic and only one and a half years old so for him to go longer than three hours of not eating means he’s a complete mess. By this time he hadn’t eaten in 4.5 hours. That makes adults sick. There’s a REASON to kids eat every three hours. She apologized and I simply left, horrified and in shock. I didn’t say anything solely because there were still children in there, and I’m pretty sure I would have flipped out, terrified the children, and possibly been asked to never come back.

Here’s the thing. He wasn’t abused, he wasn’t TRULY neglected, and he was not molested. I know all of that for a fact. Yes, I was livid that the teacher didn’t have the common sense to feed my toddler when mom seemed to be the flake who didn’t provide lunch for him, and yes the cloth diaper thing is hard for people to grasp, but he wasn’t TRULY hurt.

But he could have been.

He KNEW something wasn’t right. He tried to tell me. I didn’t listen.

The mom guilt I have at this moment is insane because of it. You hear the stories of dogs flipping out when nannies come over, of babies going ballistic when uncle Bob comes near them, of kids not wanting to spend any alone time with a parent. You think that it’s rude to not force your child to give uncle Bob a kiss, or dismiss their anxiety as a “phase.” Then years later we find out, no. That nanny was beating the shit out of the two year old girl. Uncle Bob has molested well over 15 children under the age of 7. Daddy has a Lolita complex.

Maybe I’ve known one too many adults who were molested as children. Maybe I know one too many children that were sexually abused or beaten. I know at least one. THAT IS ONE TOO MANY.

  • 34% of all child sexual abuse victims are UNDER the age of 9.
  • Over 25% of abused children are under the age of 3
  • Over 45% of abused children are under the age of 5

Of the number of children who died because of abuse or neglect…

  • 70.3% were younger than 3 years of age
  • 44.4% were younger than 1 year of age

Here’s the rub. Here’s the horrifying fact that made me promise I will NEVER ignore my son again when he is trying to tell me something and that h doesn’t feel safe:

Each adult person that I know that was abused in some manner as a child TRIED to tell their parents. The parents didn’t believe them. Each child I know that is now safe, tried telling their parents long before the truth came out. The parents didn’t believe them.

Our job is to PROTECT our children. When we do not protect them, we HAVE FAILED AS A PARENT. Period.

My son has no verbal skills yet. He doesn’t have the cognitive ability to be manipulative or lie. So when my son is trying to tell me in any way he can that he is not ok and I ignore him, I just taught my son that mommy will not keep him safe.

He was extremely hungry. That’s it.

But “to them, at that moment, it IS important” and dammit, we need to start listening.

Wrestling alligators…

Okay, yes this blog is still about my adventure in mommy-hood…but I’m convinced my son may be half lizard. Or platypus, snake, or any other animal that can somehow slink its way out of a tight spot before you realize it’s halfway gone.

I’ve said it before… I was a preschool teacher and a nanny. I have had my fair share of changing diapers, changing clothes, washing faces, putting socks back on, putting on coats, putting miniature mittens on, and digging random objects out of little mouths.

But for the life of me, I feel like I am dealing with an octopus every single time I have any interaction with my son. My husband and I have taken to putting a basket of random objects near the changing table just to entertain my son long enough so that he doesn’t smear the poop that has exploded in his diaper on his legs, hands, back, and sometimes face. Even then sometimes we fail miserably.

It takes twice as long to get my son’s pajamas on after bath then it does for me to make dinner most nights.

Even after removing his tray when he is finished eating, somehow Damian manages to find a food that he can smear all over his face after I have washed him down.

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I’ve let him run around in just his diaper during the winter because fighting him to get his shirt back on wasn’t worth the energy. I’ve learned he will come ask for his shirt when he gets cold.

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I couldn’t figure out why my cat’s food seem to be disappearing faster than it ever has in her entire 10 years of existence, until I realized my son thought it was snacks I put down at his level.

Maybe it’s because moms are inherently tired from waking three and four times a night to answer a crying child (after going to bed two hours after everyone else), from constantly struggling between housework and work-work (and in my case schoolwork as well), feeling like the definition of insanity because daily you do the same thing over and over expecting ONE day the house to stay clean, because your obligations, duties, responsibilities, chores, and others’ needs seem unending, and that the same thing I did years ago seems nearly overwhelming now. Maybe it’s because I got legit breaks then. Maybe it’s because (once again) my experiences only prepared me the way college prepares you for life: just minuscule enough that you aren’t blind sighted but not enough to truly be “prepared”.

Then this miraculous thing happened today. My son didn’t roll while I was changing his diaper. He didn’t fight me and cry when I was trying to get him dressed, and (the biggest surprise) he let me wash him after meals. Then I realized as I was telling my husband what I did differently today, was that I talked to my son. I didn’t yell or try holding him down, I didn’t chase after him and do a pretzel hold to try getting his shirt on. I literally, in my exhaustion and exasperation, said “Baby, PLEASE let mommy change your diaper. If you let me change you, then we can go play faster.”

It struck me like a tonne of bricks. I know he understands most of what I say, and instead of forcing him to do something I asked him. I let this little human know he had a choice. Small, and minuscule as his choice was, it was still his choice. I ASKED if he would let me help him. He chose to let me. We so often get in the parent mode of “I’m right, you’re wrong” without meaning to be condescending, that we are. We forget that if someone forced us day in and day out to do something, it would make us angry too. I’m not saying that tomorrow he won’t go back to rolling like a ‘gator who just caught his lunch…but for today his choice was to let me help. So today, life was a little more peaceful.

Random Mom Thought #53

My kid has more than enough toys. I know the hype of Christmas is all marketing – just like the DeBeers ploy in the 1940s to convince men 6 months of pay was what they should spend on a diamond. Yet, I can’t help but have excessive mom guilt that I couldn’t get him 500 new toys, a stack of gifts for everyone on my list, and spoil my ever so deserving husband.