All the Feels

Ummm...

Ummm…

I confessed to the moms in my playgroup that I hate the question “How are you feeling?” I hate it especially at this late stage in my pregnancy when everyone is by their phones waiting for updates on the status of my female anatomy as I anticipate labor. What is it about this innocent inquiry that sets me off? I wasn’t even sure until recently.

I hate this question because it expects a neat, simple, 1-2 word answer. An answer that can be neatly categorized into the asker’s head before we move on to the real conversation. But, I don’t have a simple answer. I feel everything. I feel annoyingly pregnant. I feel vulnerable. I still feel like myself, but that my body has been hijacked. My feet hurt, my back hurts, my head hurts. I feel tired. I feel excited about meeting my new little one soon. I also feel terrified: will I remember how to care for a baby? I feel stupid: who has a toddler and a baby? I feel thankful and grateful that my baby has been safely carried to term. I feel him kick and move. I feel his hiccups every night as I lay down to sleep. I feel hungry. I feel frustrated at keeping up with a busy toddler while 9 months pregnant. I feel blessed. I feel ready. I feel all of this at once or none at all. And my emotions change on a dime.

I think those who ask me really want to know, but they want to know in a neatly summarized sound bite and I can’t do that. I’ve experimented with different answers that sum it all up. “I feel pregnant” or “I feel ready” and then trying to summarize the rest with my body language. Once I was more honest and told a guy “I feel crappy” when he asked the dreaded question. It threw him off and he wasn’t sure how to respond. It’s OK, guy, I’m not expecting you to be my therapist or doctor! I’m just glad you are interested.

My other issue is that I find the question dismissive. Instead of being a person I’m reduced to a pile of emotions or feelings. I’m reduced to only the vessel, the carrier of another being because the only reason they are asking is because I’m heavily pregnant. At least with “How are you?” I’m personally being addressed. Weird? Most likely. And, I’m sure I’m reading way too much into it. But hey, that’s how I feel and you asked so there.

I still don’t have a great answer to this question to satisfy the asker and to give justice to my feelings in a neat, simple phrase. Maybe the answer is just simply “I feel.” That, or a blank stare followed by a pregnant pause and a shrug…get it? 🙂

Comparing Battle Wounds

@Glowimages 42-16987678.I live on a street with a lot of boys. One home has 4 boys, another has 5, a couple others have 2, and mine is about to have 2. Boys boys boys. The best part is they are all so awesome: they are kind, compassionate, full of energy, athletic, helpful, giving, the list goes on. Recently I listened in as 2 neighbor boys excitedly compared sporting injuries, each trying to top the other. Their conversation went a bit like this:

Boy 1: At the game yesterday I caught a baseball with my elbow! It swelled so large I couldn’t bend my arm!

Boy 2: Whoa, awesome! My brother broke his finger during a football game in the first quarter and finished the game before tending to it!

Boy 1: Dang, that’s commitment. Last week someone’s ice skate slashed my leg before the hockey game. Wanna see?

Boy 2: Yeah!

On and on they went. They were proud of what their bodies endured and eager to show off the wounds proving their bravery and prowess in battle. Although I was slightly taken aback when I listened to them talk (I am a mother so I have that natural ingrained worry for any child’s safety), the conversation and their enthusiasm stuck with me. I couldn’t help but wonder, why don’t mothers do the same?

Instead of sustaining an injury from a 1-2 hour game, our bodies are put to the test over a period of months-constantly evolving, changing, growing, preparing. As my doula told me, birth is an athletic event, and for months our body trains to prepare. Some of us come out the other side with the ability to “bounce back” to a “pre-baby body,” while those who don’t are labeled as unlucky. But why not? Why do we try to hide the physical evidence of the amazing thing our body accomplished? Why are we ashamed of our stretch marks, the pooch, a few extra pounds, our bigger feet? What if mothers were more like their children, comparing battle wounds with pride, enthusiasm, and interest? What if we compared stretch marks and high fived? Bragged about who’s feet grew the most? Told more stories about the soft tummies our children love to rest their heads on? What if this entire conversation over the “damage” done to our bodies during pregnancy and birth drastically changed to something we celebrated? I can’t imagine anything quite more empowering as a woman transitions to motherhood. At the very least, it would give the makers of stretch mark cream a run for their money.

So next time I see you maybe I’ll brag about how my abs didn’t fully re knit themselves together after the birth of my son, and as a result my belly button shrunk inwards a bit. But because of what they did over the course of months so my body could build a baby (isn’t that just amazing?!), I now have a beautiful toddler boy I wouldn’t trade for the hottest, flattest 6 pack.

Meet My Son’s 4 Other Parents

Helicopter-Parents

Nope. That ain’t me.

My husband and I are basically the opposite of helicopter parents. We’re mostly hands off with our 21 month old other than lots of hugs, kisses, and diaper changes. This means we allow him to explore on his own so he can discover his own body’s limits. This means he falls on occasion and instead of reacting, I stand back and wait for him to pick himself up and dust himself off. This means he tries out a few things I find slightly dangerous, like climbing rocks or going down big slides, but I let him do it because otherwise how would either of us know if he can? However, helicopter parenting is so expected where I live that others are routinely taken aback that I’m not one of them. So without further ado, here are my son’s 4 other parents who obviously love and care for him and his safety just as much, if not more, than I do.

My Retired Neighbor. We have a low brick wall in our backyard that we often sit on to admire sunsets or to just hang out. It’s probably 1.5 ft off the ground. My son likes to climb and walk along it. My neighbor was over once and almost freaked out when she saw him climbing this apparently very dangerous wall. When she wasn’t impressed with my nonchalance, she launched into a story about her daughter who fell off a brick wall and ended up in the ER and how her Grandson never climbs like that on his own. Great, good for them. You obviously care more about my son’s safety than I do. Now leave my backyard and go home.

Random Old Man at the Library. My son is really good at climbing stairs. He started climbing them 6-7 months before average. And now, he often climbs them on his own without me holding his hand. Our library has a beautiful staircase my son loves because the steps are less steep than at home so he can manage them on his own. While he was climbing said stairs recently an old man came up to me to chat about the state of my uterus (I’m 8.5 months pregnant, which apparently is enough of a conversation starter for strangers to talk to me). He then watched my son climb the stairs, all on his own, with me standing a few feet away. He said, “You might want to get behind him in case he falls.” Oh you know what? You’re right! I never thought it was possible he could fall, what was I thinking? Here is my Mom card, just take it away and turn me into the authorities now. Obviously, I have no idea what I’m doing and no way of knowing what my son is capable of.

Cafe Cashier. The sweet smell of baking cookies lured my son to a cafe counter which was obviously taller than he. The cashier came to greet us when she heard his squeals of delight. Wanting to see what was going on on the other side of the counter, my son stepped onto the molding where the counter meets the floor and pulled himself up to get a peek over the counter. I thought nothing of it. The cashier flipped. “Oh my gosh, no sweetie, get down! You might fall and get hurt!” I think we both looked at her with a bit of bewilderment. He might fall from 4 inches off the ground? Thank you SO MUCH for saving his life! What would I have done if you didn’t point out the danger of peering over the counter? Whew, close call.

Our Handyman. We’re in the middle of getting our basement finished. Our contractor came upstairs to consult with my husband on something. I was in the kitchen making lunch when I opened the cabinets and CRASH! A glass vase fell from the top shelf and shattered all over the kitchen counter and floor. My son turned and watched in interest from his seat safe at the table. My husband volunteered to sweep up the glass. The contractor said, “Don’t let him walk around in that before you sweep it up.” This time, I couldn’t help myself. I looked at him with a dumbfounded face and said, “Nooooo, really? I’m so glad you said that because otherwise I was definitely going to let him walk around barefoot where the glass fell.” I’m not sure he caught my sarcasm because he responded with an “Oh no, don’t do that!” Gee. Give me a little credit.

So, ta-da! There are my son’s 4 other parents. You know what they say. It takes a village.

Shame on Shaming Parents

I keep seeing this floating around the interwebs and had to throw in my 2 cents, because I don’t 100% agree with it. I know. Shocking. Just hang me now.

 children

This kind of maxim used to scare me out of having kids in my pre-parent days. It’s the oath of a parent who is only that and nothing else. The truth I’ve found in my experience is that life with a child contains much more freedom than this describes. Having a baby expanded rather than restricted me. It gave me opportunities rather than took them away. My son won’t always get what he wants, I won’t always get what I want, but we both get what we need. There are sacrifices, but life doesn’t end. I get where this meme is coming from, but to me it reinforces negative stereotypes about parenting and seeks to blame/guilt parents instead of support them.

Plus, just look at this kid. He is well dressed. Check out those sneaks! He is healthy. He is sporting a recent haircut. He’s probably just in time out for hitting his brother or something. The child pictured here is obviously well cared for, someone has obviously made sacrifices for him. And yet, the parent is still shamed. Not cool.

Live your life. Be you, regardless if you have kids or not.

Time to Banish “Mommy Fail” From Our Vocabulary

face-palm-woman-620x400

Don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re doing fine!

Yesterday my son decided he wanted to take a walk around the neighborhood. It was a chilly morning in the upper 50s so I put a light jacket on him and myself. My toddler grabbed his favorite walker and off we went looking for adventure in our suburban, sidewalked jungle. A few houses into our walk he got a bit cranky and kept pulling on his jacket. After a few confused seconds I finally got the hint and took it off him. Free from his extra burden he happily sped away outfitted in just a t-shirt and pants to cover his little limbs in 50ish degree weather.

As we walked, I made sure to prominently hold his jacket in my hand that faced the street so that any judgy drivers whizzing by would know I at least tried putting him in a jacket on that chilly morning. Even when my son decided he was done pushing his walker and it was up to me to carry it, I carried it in a separate hand so nothing obstructed the view of his jacket dangling from my hand that faced the street.

As I type this it sounds crazy. Why do I care what drivers think of a 21 month old wandering around the neighborhood in a t-shirt when it is 50 degrees outside? My son takes after his Grandfather and is very warm-blooded. I know this. I put on his jacket and he didn’t want it, so fine. He’s obviously happy as a clam without it. So why the extra effort to appear more in control of what I “should” be doing?

Because of the Mommy Fail. You know what I mean. That phrase we tell ourselves when we do something “wrong.” Served dinner without a veggie? Mommy fail. Let your kid watch Real Housewives? Mommy fail. Didn’t have a clean uniform ready for the game? Mommy fail. In my experience, moms usually use the phrase to poke fun at themselves, not necessarily to condemn other moms. But, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if this type of self talk forces us to focus on what’s missing instead of seeing the good, and therefore negatively impacting our self-esteem. No veggie with dinner? You had the means to serve your family dinner and did so. Mommy win! Kids watched trashy TV? They are safe in your home and you have the means to pay your bills that allows the TV to be used in the first place. Mommy win! Forgot to wash the uniform? You enrolled your kids in sports where they are learning all sorts of life lessons along with getting great exercise. Mommy win!

My toddler won’t wear a coat when it is chilly outside? He is enjoying the fresh air and I am happy to be a SAHM so I can go on these morning strolls with him. Mommy win!

Let’s banish “Mommy fail” from our vocabulary and give ourselves some grace. Are your kids fed, clothed, and loved? Mommy win. Everything else is icing on the cake, no matter what Pinterest says.

You Don’t Park Like an A-Hole

Keep calm, walk on.

Keep calm, walk on.

Dear Sir or Lady who parked the white car:

Other people will tell you that you park like an a-hole.  It’s actually a thing on the interwebs.  There are even business cards saying “You park like an a-hole” some people carry around to put on windshields like yours. But me? I don’t think that is fair. I think the world needs more kindness and understanding, not less. Maybe the guy next to you before me was the one who parked like an a-hole, so you had to shift over a bit to fit in the spot. Understandable. Maybe you really really really had to pee and just parked fast as you could to run inside.  Been there. Maybe you didn’t realize you parked over the line. It happens. Or heck, maybe you did.

But really, who cares? Your parking skills or lack thereof do not negatively affect my day. I am not personally offended. I will not take to social media to console myself with a status update saying, “Oh my gosh, look at this dummy!” and wait for the comments to roll in comforting me in my misfortune and bashing you for your action. In fact, I wish you no harm and I hope you are having a great day. I do not judge your entire being, personality, or level of intelligence based on this one small piece of evidence about one small part of your day in which we briefly cross paths. Some do, but not me. I get no pleasure out of berating you or cursing your existence. There are bigger problems on which to focus my energy, and my joy comes from a source larger than how other’s random behavior affects me.

So no, you don’t park like an a-hole. You park like a human being who isn’t perfect. Guess what, I’m not perfect either so we have that in common. Whew, so glad to get that off my chest.

Sincerely,

The Rebellious Mom in the red car

What I Hate About Her

The movie, of course! I can’t resist a good pun.

A few nights ago I watched the movie Her with the hubs. I actually like the premise of this movie. I appreciate that the writers took us through the normal cycles of a modern relationship with the simple twist that one of the people involved isn’t really a person at all, but an OS. It brings up good questions and possibilities. It shows the interesting nuances of human behavior and emotion and how we interact with machines built to help us manage our lives. Also, I appreciate it is a futuristic, sci-fi movie that does not show a dreary, doomed, post-apocalyptic future but rather a believable, relatable, even desirable one. So many sci-fi movies can be summed up in 3 words: “DOOM DOOM DOOM!”

However, despite being a sci-fi movie about a future relationship, “Her” falls flat in many disappointing ways.

I feel the same way, Joaquin.

I feel the same way, Joaquin.

Firstly, Her miserably fails the Bechdel test. In order to pass the Bechdel Test, a film must have 1. at least 2 women in it who 2. talk to each other 3. about something other than a man or men. You’d be amazed at how many modern movies fail this should be, super easy-to-pass test. I mean, imagine if this test was the opposite: a movie should have at least 2 men who talk to each other about something other than women. A no brainer, right? Why is this so hard? Ugh.

Secondly, there is a woman without a speaking part who is naked for the fetish-like pleasure of the main, male character. OK, I get it, he’s a horny dude, but still. She’s an object in the film, not a person. Though I do admit I was happy she was pregnant. Pregnant women are indeed beautiful. 🙂

I’m skipping the dead cat phone sex scene. Just…No. No no no no no.

There is a woman who is stripped of her clothes in an almost-sex scene, while the main character, a male, gets to keep all his clothes on during said scene. That’s not biased or one-sided at all. (sarcasm)

Annd…I swear this movie shows gorgeous women falling head over heels for the main character. I mean, I can suspend my disbelief about the futuristic OS relationship, but I cannot suspend my disbelief that this average looking guy, with thick glasses and a mustache, is easily scoring hot chicks so obviously out of his league. Um, no.

Annnd…why do the women who want  to hook up with the main character, but then are ultimately rejected, act so crazy about it? One locks herself in the bathroom! The other basically has a meltdown. Geez! Obviously written by a male who was like, “Yeah, these women are totally defeated when he won’t take them to bed, because obviously that is all women want to validate themselves.”

Annnnd…why does the OS have a super sexy, flirty, breathy, voice? I mean, c’mon. Is that really a realistic way to imagine an OS voice system in a movie trying to portray a realistic future? A voice chosen on 3 basic questions the system asked the main character when he bought the OS? I guess I get it, they are trying to make the relationship more believeable and probably want the audience to say, “yeah, I understand his attraction, it is Scarlett Johanssen after all” but it is overkill in my opinion. Half the time she is talking I feel like she is coming on to me. At least the OS, Samantha, is interested in physics. You go girl, er, OS girl.

From now on I challenge you to watch movies with the Bechdel test in mind. Are women portrayed as real characters with depth and emotion like their male counterparts? Or, are they like the women of The Social Network, described as mere “prizes” by the film’s writer, Aaron Sorkin, when asked about the lack of 3-D female characters in his film? Classy.

Now I’m curious…What favorite movie of yours does NOT pass the Bechdel Test? For me, The Princess Bride comes to mind…