back to the grind, consumed with mom-guilt.

I’d like to take this opportunity to give a standing ovation to all the stay-at-home moms out there. Bravo, ladies. Brav. Vo.

Y’all want some real talk? I’ll give you some real talk.

I’ve been a working mom for three days and let me just tell you — stay-at-home moms have it harder than working moms. (And, as an aside, stay-at-home moms who HOME SCHOOL? Psh. They’ve all got to be immortal droids or something.) I’ve been back in the workforce for almost three days and it’s like I’m in Cabo on vacation. Wooohoo! I can count on one hand the number of days that have gone by without me getting pooped on, and I can pee whenever I have to and not hold it until the baby’s asleep! (Okay, so maybe, based on that comment, I did stay-at-home mom life wrong. Whatever. Holding your bladder for five hours while consoling a colicky baby is legit, right? Don’t answer that.)

Anyway. Props to all you SAHMs. Major. Props.

More real talk. I miss my boy. Bad. 

The first day back was pretty great. I was distracted by all my new projects at work and the sweet welcome I got from my coworkers, seen here:

And the second day was okay, too. But once I got home, I realized that, at the end of my work day, I only have a few short hours with my baby until he’s down for bed which makes me SUPER. DUPER. SAD.

You guys. I’m in a downward thought spiral, here. My self-love is waning in lieu of mom-guilt. Does he still recognize my voice?! What if he grows up not knowing who I am? What if he thinks I’m just some weird lady who comes to his house and sleeps in his dad’s bed after being away for eight hours all day?! Even worse, what if he DOES know I’m his mom, but thinks I suck majorly because I’ve missed out on all the times he’s smiled as a two-month-old? What if, when he learns to talk, his first word is, “I-DON’T-KNOW-MY-MOM.” YOU GUYS?! HOW DO KIDS OF WORKING PARENTS NOT GROW UP COMPLETELY MALADJUSTED?! WHY AM I THE WORST?

Okay. So maybe my kid is adjusting fine. Maybe he’s two months old and doesn’t know the difference yet. Maybe he’ll grow up completely normal in spite of me. Maybe I’m the severely unhinged mental case who needs help.

Anyway.

I’m back in action, y’all! Back with a whole new set of insecurities! Let’s do this.

i’ll have curves with a side of bones, please. hold the cellulite.

Well, readers. I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news.

The good news is that it seems as though the outrage against society’s “thin ideal” is finally being recognized. Magazine photo editors have finally gotten the message and have stopped Photoshopping images of women down to impossibly skinny frames.

The bad news is that instead of Photoshopping women to look skinnier, now editors are adding fake curves. According to the lovely ladies at Beauty Redefined, curvy is the new skinny, but only in places curves are “allowed.”

Sigh. SO CLOSE, YOU GUYS. SO CLOSE AND YET, SO FAR.

Seriously, people? The problem isn’t that images of women have been manipulated to look thin. The problem is that images of women (and men, for that matter) are being manipulated at all. I’ve been dying for magazine photo editors to get this through their heads and with this new revelation, I feel like I’ve spent the better part of my life begging my parents for a puppy, and they just finally agreed to get me one. Only they came home with a beat up Pound Puppy they found at the local Goodwill and hoped it would pass.

And so. Here we are again singing the same song reinforcing the idea that one body type is better than all the others. Where it used to be impossibly skinny, now it’s impossibly curvy; that is, thin all over except where curves are acceptable (boobs and butt, essentially).

As someone who falls in the “curvy” category (or plus-sized, if you can believe it) I’ve always wished that I could have this exact body type — thin everywhere, but with killer boobs and a butt. But even when I was starving myself into misery, I still had the body type I do: curvy, even in the spots where it’s not acceptable (bigger arms, bigger thighs, and so on). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation with another girl about how we wish we could switch body parts with each other so we could fit the ideal.

ME: Ugh, I hate how big my boobs are. I wish I was skinny all over like you.

FRIEND: Whatever! I wish I had your shape and actually looked the way a woman is supposed to look!

ME: But we’re all ‘supposed to be’ skinny like you.

FRIEND: Yeah, but with big boobs like you!

I wasn’t born knowing that there is a “right” way to look and a “wrong” way to look. I was taught it from a very young age. Sadly, I was also taught that, thanks to Photoshop in the media, the “right” way to look is also the “impossible” way to look.

Either it’s being so skinny that you’d have to have most of your rib cage removed…

 

Or it’s extremely curvy, but only in the places that curves are accepted.

And if you don’t look like this? Well, it’s no one’s fault but your own because you’re the only one not working hard enough.

To learn more about this stupid new trend in Photoshopping, click here to read the article by Beauty Redefined.

things i love thursday! (august 30, 2012)

Pfft pfft pfft pfft.

Oh. Don’t mind me. I’m just brushing the cobwebs off my blog.

Each week gets away from me faster than the week before that. I hate it. I only have just over two more weeks until I go back to work. But at any rate, life rules, and here’s why.

THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE THIS WEEK:

  • My little CK model.
  • Running into Emily all over the place!
  • One-handed nutritional breakfasts and snacks. Again, thanks Emily.
  • Sacred echoes.
  • Affirming lunch meetings.
  • Being able to let Dan have a full day with Dax.
  • Only being ten pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight! Breastfeeding is magic, y’all. I haven’t exercised a bit.
  • Getting out of the house.
  • Visitors! Especially when they bring baby clothes and a toddler! (Yay Ashley!)
  • Buying “impractical” things for myself. (Read: clothes.)
  • Showing up to church tired and barely put together and having someone I don’t even know call me “gorgeous” for “just having a baby.” Psh. STOPPPP.
  • Special deliveries at the house.
  • Having a “usual order” at the coffee shop. And having the baristas know it.
  • Snuggling in bed with both of my boys.
  • Dax and Hamlet tag-teaming some cuddles.
  • Having curly hair. Yep. You read that right.
  • “Fuss-free” days with Dax.
  • Getting word that Becky bought us tickets to see FSU play this weekend!
  • Libby, for helping us out by babysitting!
  • Mary, for babysitting last minute so Dan and I could go out to dinner last night.
  • Peach sangria.
  • Catching up with Felicite FINALLY.
  • Dream-smiles (he’ll wake-smile soon, I KNOW IT!) and coos from my sweet boy.
  • “Stefon” on SNL: “It’s a hoomba. You know, it’s that thing, where a midget lays on a skateboard and rolls around your house picking up garbage.” OMG I DIED.
  • Gripe water.
  • Baby bath time.
  • Quiet car rides.
  • Having prayers be answered.
  • Sleeping long enough to dream.

What about you? What do you love this week?

mirror, mirror…

I’ve always been obsessed with my reflection, in both good and bad ways. When I was a kid, my mom caught me smiling at my reflection in the mirror once, and I was so embarrassed. (Nowadays if I were to see a small girl do that I’d love it. I was mortified, though.) And now, if I so much as walk past a glass-covered building, my eyes automatically attach themselves to my reflection, usually for several seconds, just to make sure I still look presentable and am not walking funny or anything. I’ve even found myself having a conversation with someone while walking past my reflection and completely tuning them out while I ogle myself. Bleh.

This week, two of my friends sent me a link to the same story — the story of Kjerstin Gruys, a woman who avoided looking at herself in the mirror for an entire year.

You can read the story here but, in a nutshell, Kjerstin spent the better part of her life fighting an eating disorder. After years of therapy, she finally beat her ED. Later, she got engaged and began planning her wedding. While dress shopping, she found herself thinking the damaging thoughts associated with disordered eating and, rather than subjecting herself to the temptation to fall into old habits, she decided to avoid mirrors altogether.

Yes, even on her wedding day.

When I first read this story, I had conflicting feelings: first, I felt ecstatic for her. What an amazing, liberating thing. But then, I felt convicted. Ashamed of myself and my own addiction to my reflection and the fact that I didn’t think to do it first.

And I thought not straightening my hair for 40 days was a big deal!

When I got married, I got ready in a room with no mirrors (the church nursery). I distinctly remember feeling a sense of anxiety about not being able to give myself the once over before walking down the aisle. How silly — the happiest day of my life spent worrying about whether or not I look okay? (And, as if my Christian, children’s pastor of a husband even gave a crap? Let’s be real, y’all; I could have walked down the aisle in a paper bag and he would have said, “I do” anyway, so long as I took the paper bag off later. Blatant inferences intended.)

As a brand new mom, I haven’t had much time to look in a mirror, let alone analyze my appearance in one. Through this process, I’ve come to realize how truly fleeting and insignificant my looks are. This point was proven when just a week after delivering, one of my TV reporter friends (I used to work in TV news, by the way) was doing a story on breastfeeding and texted me to ask if she could come over to interview me. Without thinking, I agreed, and she told me she’d be over in 15 minutes. Then it hit me — I couldn’t remember the last time I’d brushed my teeth, showered, or changed clothes. And here I was, about to be filmed for television.

My apathy was amazing. You should have seen it. I only changed clothes and brushed my hair because I thought I was doing those in our viewing area a favor. I couldn’t have cared any less about my appearance because my new baby was happy, healthy, and fed. Oh, and I’d gotten to nap that day, too. (Priorities, people. Motherhood changes them.) My baby boy had become my mirror; the way he thinks of me — with blind love and dependence — is the way I’m learning to look at myself.

Instead of a new baby, Kjerstin focused on her new husband as her mirror. His thoughts about her were all she needed to engage with. In an interview, she said that, when he looked at her, he saw all the things he loved, not the things he wanted to change. And she wanted to look at herself that way, too. By removing mirrors from her life, she was able to look inside herself and see everything she has going for her. (Appropriately enough, her first dance with her husband was to the song, “I’ll Be Your Mirror”. How perfect, right?)

I’ve actually considered giving up looking in the mirror for Lent before. But I’ve never done it. Just like giving up social media, I’ve always assumed that avoiding mirrors would be “virtually impossible” so there’s no use in trying.

Psh. If one girl can do it for a year — the year in which she gets married — I can do it for 40 days. Maybe I will…

Thanks for your inspiration, Kjerstin! You truly are beautiful, inside and out.

check out that sweet bod.

I really love this graphic. I’d seen it before, but a friend posted it on my Facebook this week and reminded me of its existence. It says so much while saying so little — look at all these delicious fruits, whose shapes hold no bearing on how nutritious and yummy they are!

When I first saw this, that’s as far as my brain took it. But after seeing it again this week, I’ve since gotten a new perspective. Even food isn’t safe from being scrutinized for its appearance.

Much of the world’s food is thrown away for not “looking” appetizing enough. Grocery stores are chock full of genetically modified fruits that are designed to be bigger and better looking than their natural counterparts. We’re conditioned to think that because a fruit looks smaller or different from the “perfect”, blemish-free genetically modified foods, that they must be less fresh, less tasty, or less nutritious, while the reality is that the organic ones are actually better for you.

I don’t really need to draw the connection for you. I’m pretty sure you’re smart enough to do it yourself.

BRB, gonna go catch up with the tomato in my kitchen about how my mid-section is too squishy and ask it how it got so taut, while simultaneously offering it advice on how to reduce skin redness.

Peh.

 

why pinterest is both great and awful.

The cool (terrible?) thing about being pregnant (and I mean super pregnant) is that there is never a dull day because your mind takes you on such wonderful adventures! You get to go round and round in circles until you end up at the same destination at which you arrived the last time you let your mind wander — the notion that you’re going to be the worst mom on the planet. 

In today’s edition of Reasons I’m About to Fail at Motherhood, we explore Pinterest, an online pin board designed to inspire and motivate you to do things you never thought possible. (Or help you plan a wedding when you’re not even in a relationship. That, too.)

To watch me flail around desperately in a sea of DIY crafts I’ll never have the time or energy or creativity for, follow me on Pinterest here.

I love Pinterest. But I also hate it.

I love it because it is literally a bottomless gorge of creativity. Novice photography? There’s a pin for that. DIY crafts? There are only about a thousand boards to follow. Recipes? Oh man, don’t even get me started. (A couple weeks ago I made Nutella cookies from a recipe I found on Pinterest. Because I don’t have a hand mixer  — and why WOULD I? Anyone who knows me knows I don’t cook/bake/do anything a real wife and mom should do — the texture was a bit off. But they tasted like little chunks of Nutella and my husband was popping them like pills so I guess I succeeded.)

At its core, Pinterest is super helpful! Also, this is exactly what happens to everyone who signs up for Pinterest:

But. As a new (and undeniably uncrafty) mom, Pinterest scares the hell out of me. Just by existing, Pinterest takes everything I’m insecure about and just flaunts it in my face, like a big ol’ bully wielding recipes I’ll never have the skill to perfect and projects I’ll never have time to complete.

And so. I hate it. I hate it so much.

Here’s the deal — I follow a lot of my crafty friends, both moms and otherwise, on Pinterest. They pin the darnedest things, you know. Make your own X for baby! Create your own Y for the nursery! Do it yourself Z for the home! Etc. Etc. Etc.

It’d be great if that’s where it stopped. If everyone else was a “theoretical pinner” like me (that is, someone who pins things on their boards with no real intention of ever attempting the projects for a number of reasons) I wouldn’t be so bloody insecure. But that’s not the case. Oh no — when I visit these crafty friends of mine, I find that Pinterest is not only bookmarked on their laptops but has also clearly been inside their homes and left its mark via super adorable DIY things.

Because they’re all better crafters than me and, therefore, are better women/wives/moms/people than me.

You see, my house? Uh. Well. Last week we went to Wal-Mart and bought an already-painted canvas with already-printed-on sayings and nailed it to the wall in our dining room. Does that count? I mean I bet I could pin something that looks like that and just pretend I did it myself. Would anyone notice?

As I try to “nest” I’ve been scouring Pinterest for crafty DIY ideas on how to make the nursery look great and “nesty”. Because success at Pinterest = success as a mom.

Well, good news, readers! I’ve found something on Pinterest I’m going to DO MYSELF! I’ve resolved to buy some canvases and some pretty fabric and staple said pretty fabric to the canvases and then hang them on the wall. DIY wall art, you guys! Sounds super easy, right? (Here’s a link to the pin I, uh, pinned: DIY wall art.)

Seems easy enough, right? How hard could it be? I’ve done the research. I know where to buy the canvases and fabric and I know that I should probably get a staple gun to wield for this project. Looking at it, it seems like a piece of cake. That’s why it’s on Pinterest, right? Because every DIY project on Pinterest is easy, right? I have two hands and eyeballs and all the time and energy and creativity in the world. If I can’t make this work then…

Oh goodness. I don’t even want to think about what it means if I can’t do this.

Because if I fail at it, then I fail at being a good mom.

Well. I’m glad I consulted you, blog, before I attempted this most likely disastrous and self-esteem-crushing project. I just saved myself a lot of grief.

So. Let’s just stick to the already-printed stuff at Wal-Mart and call it a day so I don’t have to cry myself to sleep tonight thinking about all the money I’ll have to shell out for Dax’s therapy later on in life for being born unto such an uncrafty, unconventional, horrible mother.

While I’m at it, I should probably buy stock in Hot Pocket, Kraft, and Great Value brand hot dogs.

“i’m not sure what to do with my hands.”

DISCLAIMER: I know that “articles” about child-rearing and parenting can cause quite a ruckus on the Internet. Please do not read this as if it were “an article”. Rather, read it for what it is: a blog post of a girl who is simultaneously terrified and elated to become a mother in the next few weeks. That’s all it is. A blog post. An opinion. A cry to be heard and understood. That’s all.

Oh, I’m a slave to my hormones, too. Take that into consideration as well.

Yesterday, Dan and I spent our Saturday together doing some last minute preparations for our baby’s arrival (which, if you haven’t been following our pregnancy blog, is only merely a few short weeks away). We bagged up things we needed to return, made a list of things we still needed to buy (and bought most of them!) and did some organizing/nesting. It felt good.

I can’t explain in words how excited I am to meet this little guy. Over the past nine months, I’ve grown to know him in my belly. I know his movements and I know what his little body feels like on the outside. I know that he likes to stick his butt straight out on the left side of my belly button (perfect for little love-taps!) and I know that he isn’t a big fan of me laying down. (He instantly starts squirming to get comfortable.) I just love him so much already and I know that the second I lay eyes on him, my whole world will be rocked.

I guess it’s different for dads who, while they can put their hands on our bellies and sort of feel what we feel, don’t really get “hit” with the reality of fatherhood until they’re in the hospital and that slimy little creature is in their arms screaming at them. Women are caregivers from conception, growing and nurturing that little human inside their bodies for nearly a year before introducing the baby to the father to let him care for it. So, in essence, we women are “more experienced” come delivery date and I guess that means that dads need some help.

Last week, while we were perusing Burlington Coat Factory, Dan found a book in a sale rack all by itself. From afar, it looked like some hokey novelty book no one would ever seriously buy, which is why we assumed it was in the sale pile — just to get rid of it.

After mindlessly flipping through it and laughing out loud, Dan exclaimed, “We’re getting this!” and we walked to the register to do so.

We’ve both been reading it and, I must say, it’s wonderful. A must-have for any new parent. The book is well-written, hilarious, and, above all else, extremely helpful. Even as “the mom” and not “the dad” I’ve found it to be quite enlightening in preparing me for the crazy changes ahead.

Changes. I am no stranger to those anymore.

Take right now, for example. It’s Sunday morning. I’m sitting up in my bed, still in my pajamas with my hair a mess and my glasses on. I’m blogging in a quiet house while my husband toils away at church. My over-sized t-shirt is almost uncomfortably tight across my bulbous body, the tell-tale sign that the act of expelling a child is imminent.

Nine months ago, everything looked different. At 10:30AM on a Sunday, I’d be at church with my husband, most likely since about 8:00ish, getting ready to hang out with the youth group to which I ministered for five years. I’d be chugging some sort of caffeinated beverage loaded with artificial sweeteners and non-fat milk, terrified of getting fat. My pre-baby body would be adorned in cute clothes, not just “whatever I could squeeze into that morning”. So on. So forth.

But here I am, no longer leading any ministries, no longer making music with my friends, no longer writing a book, no longer training for marathons, no longer wearing “whatever I want to”, no longer staying out super late with friends “just because”. Rather, I’m sitting here, waiting to become a mother, spending my time Googling things like, “How do you change a diaper” and “How long do babies sleep in bassinets” and “How frequently do newborns feed” and so on.

You know that scene in Talladega Nights when Ricky Bobby is getting interviewed and he just whispers, “I’m not sure what to do with my hands”? That’s kind of how I feel right now. I don’t know what to do with my hands, or my life, until this little guy shows up. Then, I’ll be on 24/7. All mom, all the time. That will be my role. That, and that alone.

Yesterday, while we were organizing, Dan asked me where he could hang his new Spider-Man poster. He (jokingly I hope?) placed it on a wall in our bedroom and asked if it looked okay. I shot him a look, to which he replied, “Oh, I know that look. That look means no. That look means this isn’t going here.” I nodded in agreement.

“You know,” he went on, “my dad book says that I should have my own space with my own things to remind me that I’m not just a caregiver. I should be reminded on a daily basis that my life isn’t over just because I’m a dad and that I can still do the things that I enjoy.”

I looked at him sadly, then glanced around our 1000-square-foot apartment. “When you find a space to call ‘your own’, feel free to decorate it however you like,” I playfully snapped, then went back to scrubbing the toilet.

Suddenly, it dawned on me. Nowhere in any of my “you’re about to be a mom” books have I read that I should have my own space, or focus on things I enjoy to reinforce the idea that I’m not “just” a caregiver. On the contrary. I’ve been told that I’m absolutely “just” a caregiver, and have been since conception. I’ve read things like, “Your body will never be the same,” and “You will feel like you have a baby attached to your chest forever,” and “You will never sleep again, but that’s just what being a mom is” and “You will quickly learn that the things you used to do, you can no longer do, and that’s just the way it is,” and, my personal favorite, “You will also have a man understandably chomping at the bit to have sex with you again, so make sure you cater to him as well as the baby you’re caring for 24/7.”

So, this morning, I am a bit melancholy. A bit mournful. I’m not saying that being a mom is a bad thing. I’m not saying that the fact that I’ll be on 24/7 won’t be completely worth it. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m just annoyed that in a world so dominated by fatherlessness, it’s sad that we’re perpetuating the idea that fathers need not focus solely on that role because, of course, how can we expect them to? They’re just dads after all, whose contribution to the “miracle of life” is pretty minimal compared to the mothers’.

Well. As a girl who grew up not knowing her father, I can tell you, a father’s presence is absolutely priceless and I don’t think it’s unfair to demand equality in child-rearing.

Surely, my husband cannot breastfeed. That is absolutely something that only I can offer our son. But there are things Dan can offer him that I can’t as well. And, furthermore, we’re both still individuals. We both are people outside of our caregiver roles and I feel a bit bitter that the importance of the mother maintaining her individuality isn’t more widely acknowledged. Rather, we’re told that “being a mom is a full-time job!” and that we’re all our kids have at the end of the day. That’s a lot to take on, especially when coupled with the pressures to get back into our pre-pregnancy bodies and go back to having sex with our husbands as soon as inhumanly possible. (Oh, and don’t get me started on the guilt I’ve been subjected to because I have literally NO CHOICE but to return to work.)

“You, woman? An individual?” society barks. “No, my lady, I’m afraid you are mistaken. You are a sex-having, baby-making, child-rearing machine, who is supposed to be 5’10” and 115 pounds and tanner than any given member of the cast of Jersey Shore. That’s what you are. That, and nothing else.”

All the while, all Dad has to worry about is where to hang his Spider-Man poster so he doesn’t feel like “his life is over”.

Please.

julia bluhm vs. seventeen.

I think I’ve mentioned Julia Bluhm before, but I couldn’t find it when I searched my blog archives for all of 0.5 seconds. At any rate, this amazing little middle-schooler has done something incredible. While I, a 20-something blogger in Florida, sit down and piss and moan on the Internet about how magazine companies shouldn’t Photoshop models or celebrities in order to protect impressionable youth, Julia is actually doing something about it. 

This amazing 8th grader was sick of hearing girls in her ballet class complain about being fat, so she started a petition to get Seventeen Magazine to stop misrepresenting women in their publication by publishing at least one unaltered photo an issue. Some 84,000 (yes, you read that number right) signatures later, the unthinkable happened — she won and then some.

According to this article from Think Progress, Seventeen agreed to her terms, but they even went a step further. The magazine offered to start representing girls and women from all shapes and sizes without using Photoshop on their bodies at all. (They did say, however, that they’d still use Photoshop to edit away wrinkles in clothes and flyaway hairs.)

Here’s a picture of their new Body Peace Treaty, alongside a picture to illustrate what to expect from Seventeen going forward:

And, if you click here, you’ll see a Body Peace Pledge that is posted on Seventeen‘s website to which girls can add their signatures. I particularly love the first statement (“I vow to remember that the sun will still rise tomorrow even if I had one too many slices of pizza or an extra scoop of ice cream tonight.”) and the last statement (“I vow to accept that beauty isn’t just about my looks. It’s my awesome personality and my energy that creates a whole, unique package.”)

Hear, hear!

Oh. And don’t think Julia’s done yet. She’s developed another petition to get Teen Vogue to follow in Seventeen‘s footsteps.

I can’t deny how giddy this makes me. Assuming Seventeen sticks to its word, this will be huge for the self-love movement and for young girls worldwide. However, I’m trying to curb my enthusiasm for fear of being let down later. I mean, if they’re still using Photoshop to smooth away wrinkles, what’s to keep an editor from discreetly splicing an arm or a boob or something?

No matter. For now, we have their word. And furthermore, we have proof that we are actually being heard. 

Great job, Julia! I wish we could all be as strong and badass as you are.

my life as a statistic.

I love kids. They’re so innocent and sweet. They’re so naive to all the dark, horrible things in the world.

That is, until some vindictive adult comes along and enlightens them.

I remember one summer several years ago, I was babysitting three kids, the oldest of whom was five at the time. (Her name was Grace, which is all too fitting for the story.) Like most inquisitive kids do, Grace began to ask me a series of questions. Here’s how it went:

Grace: “Lindsay, where is your mommy?”
Me: “Well, she’s probably at home right now.”
G: “And where is your daddy?”
Me: “He’s… Well… I don’t know, actually.”
G: “You don’t know? Where did he go?”
Me: “I don’t know, Grace.”
G: “Did he go to Heaven?”
Me: “No, he didn’t go to Heaven. He just left.”
G: “He just left?”
Me: “Yes.”
G: “But why would he do that?”

(In case it isn’t clear to you, I’m the vindictive adult in this situation.)

Sweet Grace; she couldn’t fathom a father just “leaving” unless he died. I hated being the one to break it to her that, sometimes, daddies just leave.

When I was a kid, much like Grace, I was pretty ignorant to the implications of growing up without a father. I knew that me not having my dad around was “different” and “not fun”. But, apart from those two things, I really couldn’t pinpoint the real pain of not knowing my dad. All I knew was that other kids had two parents and that I had one.

Father’s Day was this Sunday. You’d think that, as someone whose father removed himself from her life seventeen years ago, I would be used to Father’s Day. It would stand to reason that I’d grow increasingly numb to my fatherless disposition with the passing of each annual paternal celebration. It would start out with being a kid and just not celebrating some holiday it seemed like everyone else got to celebrate and then, as I grew older, I’d accept it and be completely over it.

That’s how it’s supposed to go, right?

However, on the contrary, each Father’s Day seems to be more painful than the last which means that this Father’s Day was the most painful by far.

On Sunday, our pastor’s message was about the Degrees of Fatherhood. He ended his message with the best Father (God of course) but, at the beginning, he spoke about the lowest degree of fatherhood: the “Sperm Donor”, or, the one to which I was born. As a part of his Sperm Donor speech, he also rattled off a list of statistics about kids who grow up under the same circumstances I did. (Click the link to go through them.)

As the stats scrolled on the screen, my eyes glazed over and my skin turned clammy. My gazed turned inward as he spoke. It all hit me at once — during my upbringing, I became entangled in an abusive relationship. I was raped. I was diagnosed with an eating disorder. I fell away.

I, too, had become a statistic. A statistic of the fatherless.

During the message the worship band, led by one of the most Godly fathers I’ve ever known, began to play another song. Not a worship song. But a song whose dirty power chords took me back to the nineties. As Eric sang the iconic first three words of Everclear’s Father of Mine, my heart sank even deeper. And, on the final verse, I caught my sadness in a rock hard lump in my throat. As I sang along, I clutched my swollen belly, and quietly cried.

Now I am a grown man
With a child of my own
And I swear I’m not going to let him know
All the pain I have known

Normally, my blog posts end on a rather encouraging note. A bright spot, if you will. But today, I don’t have one. And for that, I sincerely apologize. This week I am hurting and I am fragile.

I am a statistic. But I’m a survivor, too.

 

snow white and the twisted self-image.

I didn’t really like the story of Snow White growing up, particularly Disney’s famed portrayal of the narrative. Not that the story wasn’t, I don’t know, compelling, or anything. But the dwarves freaked me out, even if they did sing catchy songs about going to work, and Snow White herself seemed like a really weak protagonist. (Yes, I had these thoughts as a five-year-old.)

But, now that I’m older, I figured I’d give the “real” Snow White a shot. So, this weekend, one of my girlfriends and I went to go see Snow White and the Huntsman. I very much enjoyed the film, despite it being my first exposure to Kristen Stewart’s “acting” skills and the obvious fact that the story is much darker than Disney has ever led any of us to believe. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the real story of Snow White, sans Dopey, here’s the way it breaks down in a nutshell. (Oh, and yeah, don’t read if you don’t want to hear spoilers. I guess.)

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A pretty girl is born to a king and a queen. They name her Snow White. The queen dies suddenly from some illness which sucks. Some crazy sorceress lady who is unhealthily obsessed with an enchanted talking mirror (and also has some weird, creepy relationship with her brother) shows up and seduces the king. He marries her the next day, obvs. She then kills the king because, again, she’s legit cray cray. She locks Snow White in a tower because Snow White is, according to this talking mirror, the prettiest girl in all the land and she, Queen of the Cray, just can’t handle that. Snow White escapes and gets stuck in some horrible dark forest that screws with your brain a la a bad bath salts trip. (Relevant.) Queen Cray hires a very sexy, yet brooding and mysterious, huntsman to go find Snow White with the promise of bringing his dead wife back, even though she’s clearly not powerful enough to do that because HELLO THAT’S RIDICULOUS. Anyway, Hunky Huntsman goes and immediately finds Snow White face down in bath salt mud in the forest as if girlfriend was attached to some Snow White GPS monitoring system. She convinces him to help her escape Queen Cray instead of taking her to him. Even though he’s very distraught over the recent passing of his wife, he falls in love with her instantly because she’s gorgeous (natch) and agrees to help get her to safety. Meanwhile, Queen Cray imprisons all of the young girls in the land and sucks the life/beauty/youth out of them to remain young and beautiful while they age and die. It’s kind of Harry Potter/Dementor-ish, actually. Blah blah blah, there are some fairies and dwarves and craziness, and then Snow White is tricked by Queen Cray (who shows up in the form of Snow White’s childhood love interest) into eating a poisoned apple that “kills” her. But she’s actually not dead! She’s just under a spell that can only be broken by “true love’s kiss”! But no one talks about it! So when Snow White’s childhood love interest finds her all dead-looking, he kisses her sadly. But she doesn’t revive. GASP! Later on, though, Hunky Huntsman lays one on her that evidently does the trick. Snow White wakes up like she was just napping or something and then they go and fight Queen Cray and eventually kill her. Then Snow White takes her rightful place on the throne. The end!

Phew. Got all that? Okay. Much different than Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, right? And I’m not just talking about the lack of high-pitched singing.

So, let’s point out the most twisted flaw about this story (which, granted, was written approximately a billion years ago).

The main conflict of the story is that a girl is prettier than her stepmom (and I guess everyone else in the land, too) and the stepmom is just NOT OKAY WITH THIS. So much so, that she’s willing to kill any and everyone standing in her way of being the “fairest of them all”. (Side note: I’ve had fair skin my whole life and I’m still waiting for paleness to be in fashion. What gives?)

So. What can we learn from this?

Let’s say that Snow White represents us: you, me, women. Just by being born, just by existing, we are all “fairest” of the land. We are all beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made, exactly the way we are, right? Well, not until some overbearing ruler (societal beauty standards) steps in with some stupid magic mirror (Photoshop, perhaps? The media in general? The diet industry? All of the above?) and vows to destroy us by any means necessary in order to communicate what is truly “fairest” in all the land.

The cool thing about this story, when viewed through this metaphor, is that — spoiler alert — Snow White is the only one who can defeat the Queen. They are tied together due to some spell and/or curse. Therefore, Snow White is the “chosen” one, if you will, that must drive the sword through the Queen in order for her to actually die and allow for Snow White to rightfully reign.

I think the same holds true for us. Because we are women born into this society, we have been “cursed” since birth to be abused by a beauty-obsessed world. However! We are the ones who hold the power to destroy its influence in our lives and regain rule over our self esteems. By looking in our own mirrors and seeing ourselves the way we were meant to be seen, beautiful inside and out, we are doing the same thing Snow White does to the Queen at the end. We stare Queen Cray, and everything about her that makes us feel bad about ourselves, in the face and say, “No! You are a liar! You are evil! I’M the fairest of them all!” And, in doing so, swiftly drive a sword right through her.

Only then can we regain our rightful place on the throne of our lives.