There sure is a shit ton of dieting going on these days. I don't know if it's my age or the rise of network marketing businesses that are capitalizing on people's insecurities - but I feel like I'm constantly looking at "before and after" photos and "here's my food" pictures.
I'm not going to lie, I often look at those rock-hard abs and think "daaammmnnnn" but I refuse to hit "like" because then my inbox will be swarmed with invitations from people wanting me to "join them on their health and wellness journey." And then I'll have to say mean things like, "No thanks, I prefer to eat real food," or "I was in a cult once already, I'm not interested in joining another one."
And truthfully, I have another confession about health and wellness: I TRY NOT TO OVERTHINK IT. I'm happiest when I don't.
I was more self-conscious about my body when I was eleven years old than I am now (22 years and 2 kids later!)
I used to weigh myself constantly, and pinch the "fat" on my belly. I was a foot taller than all of my friends when I was in fourth grade, and I got leg-hair and pit-hair before anyone else. I felt like a monstrous giant. I was always the one to give the piggy-backs, and I was always on the bottom of the pyramid. I felt like she-hulk and I hated it.
I was a competitive figure skater, and had the defined quads to prove it. I'd give anything for those quads now, by the way, but at the time? I didn't appreciate my own strength and my body's own amazing abilities.
My Mom is probably crying reading this thinking, "how did I fail you?" But you didn't Mom. You tried so hard to compete with the messages that surrounded every day. And that was pre-internet! (It's hard to believe such a time existed, isn't it?) I can't even imagine how difficult it must be today, raising a daughter and son of internet-using-age (this will be my reality in a few short years)! Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, Filters, Filters and MORE FILTERS! Likes, "loves", comments, hateful comments, trolls, bullies...
That is some bullshit, right there.
As I'm typing this I'm realizing how easy I have it right now, parenting two young kids. I say "yes" and "no" to whatever media they consume. I'm careful with the language I use around them. My kids have never heard me describe anyone or anything as "fat." Instead, I try to use language that focuses on the amazing things their bodies can do because really, THAT is what matters. "Oh wow! Look how strong you are! You climbed all the way to the top!"
I'm a huge advocate for health and fitness - but not the kind that's being marketed towards me constantly on Facebook: the kind that really blurs the lines between a healthy lifestyle and orthorexia. My favourite non-diet dietician blogger, Sarah Remmer wrote a great post about this topic a while ago.
So what can we do?
We can take a page out of BodyPosiPanda's book - and start some authentic conversations about body image, health and fitness. We can share real (un-filtered photos). We can stop pinching our belly fat when we sit down, and remind ourselves that WE LIVE IN CANADA AND NEED TO STAY WARM IN THE WINTER - we need a certain amount of insulation, damnit!
And if you have 1% body fat - and that's your natural body type? That's okay too! Just let me know; and if you need it I'll come hug you when the snow falls. Okay?
At first, I thought we could just play rock, paper, scissors and call it a day. "Whoever wins gets to decide how many kids we have?" But then I realized I'm bad at that game - and it probably isn't the best way to make such a big life decision.
So then, I decided to let time make the decision for us. "Ahh, the easy way out!" Surely, over time one of us would change our minds. Then - no one has to make a decision. Hurray!
But alas, here we are, two kids and four years later and time isn't helping anybody. "Screw you, time, and your tickety-tickety-do-nothing-for-anyone-ness." (That's my way of yelling at TIME. Asshole.)
Anyway, we're at a standstill. I want three kids. My husband wants two kids. Compromising on two and half kids isn't an option. So. Here we are.
My practical husband has all of the valid arguments. If this were a court case, the judge would be slamming down her mallet in an instant "It's decided! Based on your husband's arguments listed below, you shall have two children!"
-The world is built for families of four
-Children are expensive
-The more children we have, the less time we have to spend with each of them
-We're just starting to climb out of the trenches of early parenthood. Life is good - why fuck with it?
And all of these practical and truthful points. How can I possibly argue with them?
"But I just feeeeeeeeel like we're meant to have a third baby (pats ovary lovingly.) I can't explain it! Plus, I just want to smother myself in a pile of our offspring! More toes to nibble, more cheeks to kiss! More cradle cap to pick (that's more of an added bonus.)"
Truthfully, I understand where my husband is coming from. There is a huge part of me that doesn't really want to be pregnant again and go through the exhausting early baby years. Heck - I still don't have children who sleep through the night! BUT...when I fast-forward down the road 10, 15, 20 years? I want three kids. I want more people to celebrate birthdays with! More people at Christmas! More people to look after me in my old age! Ha!
Sure, there will be fewer family vacations to exotic places if we have a third child, and maybe each kid won't get to take piano lessons, play a sport, and be dressed in the latest fashions. But who cares?
Most parents today are going overboard with the extracurricular shit anyway, right? If we have a third child, it makes the decision for us to slow down.
"Sorry kiddo. We'd love to allow you to play hockey and lacrosse, but...we had a third child. So technically, it's their fault. Now you and Scapegoat Jr. go outside and work this out yourselves, will you? Thanks!"
Problem solved. See? I think I just found my leading argument (and a fun new name) for our third child!
This writing thing, sure is helpful and therapeutic, isn't it?
To be honest: if we don't end up having a third child, I won't be gutted and heartbroken. I do have two healthy and amazing children as it is. I count my blessings daily, and I fully realize how fortunate I am. But I think I'll always lovingly pat my ovary and think, "...what if?"
Type type type. Erase.
Type type type. Erase.
That's how this blog post is going so far.
Why, oh why, is it so hard to write a blog post about someone I love so much? Someone I say "I love you" to every single morning, and every single night (and probably a few times throughout the day?) I guess it's because I want this post about my Mom to perfectly summarize the magnitude of my love for her. But that's an impossible task, isn't it? To take a lifetime of love and happiness and somehow find an accurate way to express it in words? How do you write about someone else, when they feel so entwined with who you are that it's hard to tell where they end, and you begin? My Mom is me, and I am her - in many ways.
I am grateful that I get to see my Mom every single day. My Mom lives with us, and she's the third parent to our children. She's my husband's sports-watching buddy, she's my son's "let's build this" co-conspirator, and my daughter's stand-in mummy-snuggler. See?
She's my best friend, and I often don't even need to tell her how I'm feeling. She just knows.
She knows when I need a hug, and she knows when I need space. She knows when something is bothering me, and I need to talk about it. She knows when I need a break, and she tells me to rest.
She has been this way my whole life. She is just there in the most supportive and non-intrusive way. I've tried to explain to people how she does this, and I've never been able to put it into words. And then I came across this article, and it accurately describes what my Mom has been doing so naturally, my whole life. She's been "holding space."
Every day, my Mom makes me want to be a better person. She teaches me about patience, forgiveness, kindness, and faith. There isn't anything she wouldn't do to help a family member, friend, or even a stranger in need. She has literally given someone the coat off of her back, on more than one occasion.
"You're going to get hypothermia!" I say.
"I'm okay!" She grins.
Who is the parent now?
As my Mom ages - but by no means is she old - it gives me great pleasure to help look after her. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to be able to provide for and look after my Mom after all of the years that she has worked tirelessly to provide for and look after me.
My Mom is incredible, and I will never find the perfect words - so these ones will have to do. I will continue to love and cherish our time together every single day.
Thank you Mom, for everything you do, and everything you always have done.
You are so incredibly loved.