it isn’t easy being green. with envy.

I’ve been dealing with some stuff.

That’s what I told a couple of my girlfriends in an email last week. Only I didn’t say “stuff”. I said something else. Something much more fitting to describe exactly what it is I’m going through.

Yesterday, I got an email from NaNoWriMo. When it hit my inbox it felt like a sack of pumpkins to the face. Oh yes. It’s October, which means that next month is November. National Novel Writing Month.  Has it really been a year since I touched my novel?

Let me give you a little bit of insight as to how my life looked a year ago:

I’d just gotten surgery to repair my ACL, an injury I sustained during an awesome dance class at an incredible studio. I was writing like it was my job (which, okay, it is my job but youknowwhatimean), my blog was getting roughly a bazillion hits a day (roughly), and I was taking on my biggest writing challenge ever — fashioning a novel (albeit a complete crap one) in a month. All the while, I was involved in four ministries, one of which I led, at my church.

I was doing it all, basically. I was the it-girl.

And then bam. On November 16th, I took a positive pregnancy test. A figurative slam on the brakes of life, if you will. A happy gear shift, for sure, but a gear shift none the less. I went from being completely focused on my life and my goals to turning down everything (including beer, dang it) that I wanted in order to put someone else — someone so precious and special — first.

I was thrown head-first into a season of rapid life-changes, both physically and otherwise. As I watched my body grow, I also watched important things in my life grow distant. It was almost as if I was taking up too much space to allow for anything else. A painfully obvious metaphor, of sorts. I stepped down. From a lot of things. I put writing on the back burner. I surrendered the ministries in which I volunteered (one of which I’d run for five years — that was pretty hard to let go). I removed myself from all of the “good” things in my life in order to make room for the “best” thing.

Make no mistake. When I saw his little face on July 19th at 1:34 AM, I could see why he was, indeed, the “best” thing. He was (and is) absolutely perfect. He is my whole world. 

That should be enough for me. It should. But guess what?

I’m human. I’m broken. So sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes, like right now, for instance, it’s not.

This year looks  a lot different than last year. I’m not dancing. I’m not writing as much. I’m most certainly not writing another novel, or even editing the one I did write, and I’m watching as all the ministries in which I served move on without me. Moreover, they’re moving on with other people. People who, by my account, are better and more lovable than me. My brokenness begs me to cling to the public affirmation associated with being involved in and doing everything, and so now, since I don’t have any of that, I don’t feel as though I am worthy of love. It’s especially hard because the only person for whom I’m “doing” things, the only person from whom I can receive affirmation, can’t speak. Can’t audibly affirm me. (Unless you count coos and the occasional but oh-so lifesaving smiles.)

To make matters worse, I had to go back to work. And my milk supply consequently dropped. So now I sit in my cubicle, praying that the one thing I — and only I — can do doesn’t slip away, too, making me (in my mind) completely and utterly useless. It feels like this thing — breastfeeding my child — is the only thing keeping me from being obsolete and unloved. As each pumping session shrinks just a little smaller than the last, I begin to panic.

Enter: envy. Pure, immature, annoying, soul-crushing envy.

I find myself envious (and bitter, to boot) of everyone these days. Stay-at-home moms who can answer the demand of their nursing infants and, therefore, don’t have to worry about a diminishing milk supply. Published writers who, because they’re published, are better at it than I. Singers, because dear GOD don’t ask me to sing. Songwriters. Artists. Friends. Not friends. Redheads. Brunettes. Blondes.

The list is endless.

Chances are, if I know you, I’m probably envious of something you have that I don’t. Even though what I have — a beautiful and perfect baby boy — is something you can’t ever have. Sure, you can have a baby boy at some point. But he’ll never be my baby boy. He’ll never be the perfect little angel I wake up to every morning.

It’s the nature of the sin. It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t God-honoring. It’s wrong and stupid and awful. And yet, here I sit, stewing in envy. The painful thorn in my side.

One of my favorite writers touched on this earlier this week when she lamented about the solitary nature of book-writing. The way she explained her feelings echoed mine. It’s as if I’m a duck floating atop a pond. Quiet and inconspicuously still above the surface, but furiously paddling my feet beneath, unseen and unappreciated by all.

Barf. Whatever.

Because this terrible ulcer in my heart wouldn’t stop festering, I had no choice but to open up about it to a couple friends. (In two completely unrelated lunch meetings, both over sushi, which I found to be adorably ironic.) I sat across the table from these two friends, friends I’ve known for years, friends who have seen me at my absolute worst, and I let them have it. I let them know that, yep, I’m still messed up. I compare myself to others and get really freaking jealous and it really sucks.

And they listened. And they challenged me to think differently. To be proactive and to make changes.

But change is hard and I hate it. 

This past weekend I took a short, 24-hour trip to my hometown to see my best friend’s little brother get married. It’s a four-hour drive, and since I had to take Dax with me, I had to drive at night. I hate driving at night, but Dax sleeps through the night now and also conks out during car rides so there was no way I was going to drive during the day if it meant my son would revert back to a nocturnal disposition.

My least favorite part of the drive, probably because of the low speed limit and lack of passing lanes, is driving east on highway 40 through the Ocala National Forest. As soon as I get on 40, I start counting the minutes until I can finally turn right onto 17 and get the hell off of 40.

But this time, it was different. I wanted to stay on 40 forever.

In the dead of night, the Ocala National Forest should have, by all accounts, been pitch black. My Camry and I should have been shrouded in complete darkness. But we weren’t.

The moon was full, and so it poured buckets of silvery moonlight across the land, transforming the forest completely. The trees were a mass of dark, almost-black-but-just-not hunter green against a slate sky and clouds disguised as clumps of charcoal. It was devastatingly beautiful — a type of beauty that could only be seen in the dark of night. As much as the sun could try during the day, that type of allure was only achievable with the overwhelming glow of the full moon. (I tried to take a picture of it with my iPhone but none of the photos did it justice. So hopefully my words will.)

It reminded me of me. And what I’m going through in this time. Though I am, indeed, walking through a “dark” period, a night which has gone on way too long with the hope of dawn too far off in the distance, there is hope. There is truth. There is light.

There is light in the truth my friends bring me through honest, raw, desperate conversation. There is the reality that, though I am broken and have weak moments, I am loved and valued, even if I am not publicly esteemed as such right now. And though I’m currently wrestling with this beast of a sin, I can beat it because I am a daughter of the Most High. A princess.

A broken princess. A messy princess. But a princess, none the less, bathed in the sweet, soft moonlight of grace.

pop singers don’t eat.

In recent days, Lady Gaga has come into the spotlight for, ahem, “letting herself go” and gain some weight. Media outlets, like they tend to do, have criticized her new “fuller” (I put all these words in quotes because GOOD GOD SHE LOOKS BLOODY NORMAL) figure. To defend herself, she posted a couple pictures of herself online in her underwear with the caption, “Bulimia and anorexia since I was 15.”

 

Now, all of a sudden, people are coming up alongside Gaga to aid her in her new found quest to spread body image positivity and courage.

Yayyyy, right?

Bleh. Yes? I guess? But here’s what pisses me off about the whole thing.

I used to love Lady Gaga. I would dance like a damn fool whenever her songs came on the radio or in the clubs. My husband and I bought her newest record (which was disappointing, honestly) the day it came out. I can’t remember another artist for whom I went out of my way to purchase their stuff on the drop date. (Okay, there’s Hanson, but they don’t count because I buy their stuff BEFORE the drop date. Obviously.) But I stopped supporting her cold turkey recently.

You see, all of you are late to the “Lady Gaga Has An Eating Disorder” Party. We were all invited to that party years ago and I guess no one but me noticed her invitation to it… despite it being on Twitter. 

I stopped supporting Lady Gaga because she tweeted about eating a salad with the hashtag #PopSingersDontEat. It was almost like she was proud of it, like she knew she was “better” than the rest of us for foregoing calories in the name of thinness. I didn’t want to support anyone, ESPECIALLY anyone who women (and girls!) across the globe looked up to, who would publicly advocate such unhealthy behavior.

Because I struggled with an ED, I know that her tweet, and the thought process behind it, had ED written all over it. The desire for validation. The absurdity. The stubbornness. The emptiness. Everything about her tweet SCREAMED, “Help. I have an eating disorder,” but only NOW, when we actually see Lady Gaga give her ED a name, do we feel sorry for her?

Why is it that a tweet that LITERALLY STATES one is refusing food just gets swept under the rug, while a picture that states, in lesser words, I DON’T EAT FOOD actually gets your attention? It’s the same thing! Is it the sheer fact that now, a medical term — anorexia and bulimia — is tied to the behavior? If so, that’s horribly sad, because think of all the people who are currently suffering from eating disorders without diagnoses.

I was one of them. For those of you who know my story, you know I suffered from an eating disorder for TWELVE YEARS before being diagnosed. Twelve. Years.

After Gaga’s original tweet, that’s when we should have been rallying up alongside Gaga for body positivity! We should have tweeted back at her that nothing is worth damaging your body for, especially not thinness. We should have tweeted back at her the truth that she’s fearfully and wonderfully made. But we didn’t.

I didn’t.

Had Twitter been around back in the days I was knee deep eating disorder hell, I’m almost positive I would have tweeted something about how a Pepsi One (yep, throw back) totally counts as a legitimate lunch option. And you know what? I would have secretly hoped that someone, anyone, would tweet back at me, “Please, eat something more than that. You’re beautiful. You deserve to treat yourself better.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’m glad Lady Gaga is doing what she’s doing. I think she’s a beautiful woman, inside and out, who, like a lot of us, has been tricked by society to believe that her worth is only skin deep. And I’m not mad at her for doing this all of a sudden. What makes me mad is that THIS IS NOT NEWS. Poor Gaga practically threw a Hail Mary pass on Twitter asking for help and no on caught it. But now, she’s in the end zone doing a dance after rushing for a touchdown in her underwear, and NOW we’re paying attention?

Welcome to the party.

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.

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.

 

eat your heart out, girlfriend!

The days and weeks are all blurring together. I can’t remember the last time I wore real clothes or left the house. (Sunday? Was it Sunday? I think it was Sunday.) But each and every moment I spend with my little boy (even the screamy ones, though I have to admit, at a lesser extent) is precious. And hey, who cares, right? I have Netflix to keep me company.

EXCEPT WHEN THE INTERNET AT OUR APARTMENT DIES AND THEN I DON’T. [sobsobsob]

What did new moms do back in the 80s, huh? No Internet? No Netflix? HOW DID THEY SURVIVE?

The first time our Internet died (it’s been dodgy for the better part of a week) I was pretty cheerful about it. “OH! My baby loves to hear my voice,” I thought, “so I’ll read to him. Oh, and BONUS! I have to read all these ‘new mom’ books anyway so why don’t I read THOSE to him and kill two birds? MAN, I’M A GENIUS!”

So I picked up The Girlfriends’ Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood by Vicki Iovine and started reading it to my newborn. I actually finished it in about two days. And bless my son, he was so entertained, even though I could tell he didn’t give two hoots about the subject matter. (I can hear his little thoughts now: “Breast pads? Post-natal incontinence? Mommy, why do I need to know about these things?”)

I really liked Iovine’s first book, The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancyso when a friend of mine loaned me Iovine’s book on motherhood I was really excited to read it. For the most part, it did for me what Pregnancy did — told everything about motherhood to me straight, even the not-so-happy parts. I love Iovine’s “no nonsense” take on all the crazy bizarre things that happen to women during and after they gestate. I was all about to give The First Year of Motherhood my hearty approval until I came to a chapter entitled

I Want My Old Body Back!

Even though I’ve already made peace with the new body I have, I wouldn’t mind being able to wear my pre-pregnancy jeans again (mostly because I’m cheap and the thought of me buying new pants makes my wallet cry). So I read on. Because this book is written from the point of view of my “girlfriend”, I expected good ol’ Vicki to tell me, “Hey, girl, it’s okay. You’ll get your old body back naturally and healthily. No worries, girl. For now, focus on nourishing that babe!” Because that’s what I’d tell any of my girlfriends.

I’ve decided that, based on this chapter, Vicki is not my girlfriend. Check out some excerpts:

Eat Only One Meal a Day. Relax, I didn’t say eat once a day. In fact, I think you should eat several times a day, but only once should you sit down and tuck into those three-coursers that were so much fun during pregnancy…

To avoid feeling cranky and deprived, always include a food that my Scottish friends call “fuller”: you know, something that makes you feel full and satisfied. A light pasta, roasted potatoes, rice or a piece of bread are all good “fuller”.

At least once a week, make a big pot of soup to eat at those other times when your body thinks it needs another meal.

You know what that sounds like? That sounds like an eating disorder to me.

When I was knee-deep in disordered eating, those are the kinds of thoughts I’d have: “To avoid feeling deprived, I’ll do X. To trick my body into thinking it doesn’t need more food, I’ll do Y.”

WHAT?

You know what’s happening when your body “feels” deprived or “think it needs another meal”?

YOU ARE DEPRIVED AND PROBABLY SHOULD EAT ANOTHER MEAL.

For the past week or so, I haven’t been able to eat but one meal a day. Because my baby boy loves me so much (let’s go with that as the reason) he won’t let me put him down. So while Dan is away at work all day, I am literally doing nothing but holding, rocking, and nursing my baby. Even if he is as comatose as someone who is actually in a coma, the second I lay him in his bassinet he wakes up and screams bloody murder. Therefore, when my husband gets home, I practically throw our child at him so I can eat something.

You know what that’s done to me? Nothing good for my figure, that’s for sure. And what’s more, I believe it’s diminishing my milk supply.

At the end of the chapter, Iovine kind of comes back around to say that even though your body will never be the same again, the new you is a “better” you. But I feel like limiting myself to one meal a day is doing nothing to make me better. From what I can tell, it’s making me worse. I’m crankier, more tired (if that’s even possible), and my baby is feeling the effects at mealtime.

So tonight, Dan and I made an agreement that he couldn’t leave in the morning until I had a for real breakfast. Like, with protein and stuff. So that even if I have to wait until he gets home to eat again, at least I’m not starting out on E.

In related news, I’m still jiggly and boy do I WORK IT.

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.

double standards for objectification — thoughts on “magic mike”.

This weekend I found myself in a really bizarre position.

My husband and I were sitting on our couch talking, and while I was droning on about something, he was mindlessly scrolling through his Facebook feed on his phone. In the middle of one of my sentences, he let out a big, dramatic sigh.

“My friend just posted on Facebook about how she’s going to see Magic Mike and is just so excited about it.”
“Yeah, I’ve been meaning to blog about Magic Mike,” I replied, “so I’ll probably go see it. You know, for research.”
“Do you really need to see it for research? I mean, you know what it’s about.”
“Yeah, but I want to form an educated opinion,” I offered.
“No, you just want to go see someone you wish I looked like.”

Source: IMDB

Whoa. Pump the brakes there, Dan. You’re not allowed to be insecure about your body. I have a patent on that. That’s my job and you have no right to feel that way. I can drool over hot dudes all day and you need to be comfortable enough in your own skin to let me do that. 

Wait.

By the way, to catch you up in the event that you’ve been living under a rock: Magic Mike is a film in which Channing Tatum plays a stripper. That’s all I know about it. I assume there is some semblance of a plot, but honestly, who cares? It’s Channing Tatum! Stripping! No redemptive quality (read: art) required!

Like Dan’s, my Facebook feed is also all a-flutter with my friends posting about staring at a mostly-naked Channing Tatum for 110 minutes. And I mean, who could blame them? That sounds like it can’t be a bad way to spend a Saturday night, especially if you fork over the big bucks to see his junk in 3D.

I guess I can’t fault them for wanting to spend time gawking at a scantily clad man (whose abs are, to quote Emma Stone from Crazy, Stupid, Love, “basically photoshopped!”). Except for the fact that if this were a movie about a female stripper, we’d all be up in arms over it. 

Could you imagine what our Facebook/Twitter feeds would look like if it was Magic Melissa instead? Starring, oh I don’t know, Rachel McAdams or ScarJo? I can’t help but think that things would look just a tad bit different. I have a feeling that my girlfriends, the same ones publicly proclaiming their overactive salivary glands over Channing Tatum, would be disappointed that, yet,  another film has come out that hyper-sexualizes and objectifies women. How dare you, Hollywood. How dare you.

So why is it okay when it’s Channing Tatum? Why is it that we can objectify men without blinking but get pissed off when a female celebrity expresses some sort of sexual prowess, whether it be in a magazine or movie or what have you? And what about when a dude cat-calls us on the street? Typically, when this happens, we scoff, then publicly scorn the “damned media” and “society” for reinforcing the idea that objectifying women is okay.

Now. I’m not saying you’re a horrible person for wanting to see Channing Tatum strip. Please don’t get me wrong. I’d be lying (and also implying that the blood in my veins runs ice cold) if I said I wasn’t somewhat interested in seeing the movie. But what I am saying is that we can’t be pissed off about our men ogling over women in the media and then turn around and do the exact same thing. Either we love it, or we hate it. Either it’s acceptable or it isn’t. We can’t have our cake and eat it, too.

(Considering the subject matter, that’s a really awkward phrase to use. I apologize.)

What do you think about Magic Mike?

embracing discomfort.

Do you know anyone who is always legitimately cheerful in the face of adversity and/or pain? The type of person who has been known to utter something along the lines of:

How am I? Oh, I’m just great! So blessed! The other day my mother died and then I ran over my childhood pet by accident, breaking both of his legs and leaving him irreparably deformed, oh, and then I failed college. Like. The whole thing. Just failed it. But my life is great, and I am blessed, and I have no reason to be unhappy because God’s in control!

I’ve always desired to be classified as one of those people. As a Christ-follower, I feel like that’s supposed to be part of my DNA: unshakable optimism.

Unfortunately, whether it be due to irreversible exposure to the darkness and cynicism of the world or just a developmental defect, I am not one of those people. In fact, I’m usually quite the opposite.

I’ll never forget the day my husband said something to me that shattered my soul so finely that it’ll never be the same.

As soon as I opened the door after work, I threw down my purse and started up my daily ritual of pissing and moaning about my what happened at my job — I don’t even remember what I was so upset about, ironically, but this was evidently the umpteenth day in a row I was firing off complaints like missiles toward my undoubtedly exhausted husband, expecting him to take every shot lying down. After what seemed to me like minutes, to him like hours, of me complaining, he fired back.

“You’re a really negative person.”

He didn’t even address the things I was complaining about. He just got right to the point — the point being, maybe it wasn’t my job that was so awful. Maybe it was me.

I’m sure that’s something that Dan wishes I’d forget (it was, after all, a comment he made in the first, and arguably most arduous, year of our marriage) but I never will. Not because I think it was mean and awful and I want to yank it out and use it as arsenal anytime we get in an argument. But because it challenged me. It convicted me.

It changed me.

Since then, I’ve never complained about my day to Dan unless he asks, “So, what happened at work today? Anything bad?” Because, honestly, what’s the point? What good does complaining do? Sure, it’s nice to vent, but I’ve found that after doing so, I only feel worse, not better. I only feel as though I’ve taken my can of worms and not only opened it, but spilled it all over the floor of my home and tackled my husband to the ground and forced him to roll around in it with me.

Sick.

This morning, I came across an article entitled, Why You Should Embrace Discomfort, and everything inside of me fought against clicking on it. I figured that reading that article would probably reinforce the accusation my husband made all those years ago. (It didn’t help that it was originally posted by my church’s Spiritual Transformation Pastor — that is, The Pastor Who Knows Everything About God and Life and Everything and Probably Intimidates You Because of It.) And I was right.

As I sit here, breathing in strange intervals while my son uses my lungs and ribs as his own personal punching bags and thinking about how I need to stop by my house later to visit the cats and pick up a few things before heading out to our friends’ to sleep, I am becoming increasingly aware of the amount of discomfort I’m currently experiencing, both physical and emotional. And I can honestly say that, even before reading that article, I was and am doing everything in my power to embrace it.

  • Instead of complaining about our current “homeless” state, I’m embracing the help of generous friends (who are truly like more like family) that allow us to not just stay with them, but live (eat, sleep, breathe, fellowship, laugh, cry) with them until we find a new place.
  • Instead of shutting people out, insisting we rebuild and replace our things on our own, we’ve allowed people to give to us. At this moment, we have just about enough money to replace everything — everything — that was stolen from us. I am speechless. So humbled.
  • Instead of focusing on the real darkness of the situation, we’re focusing on the true light — the real God moments — that have taken shape over the past week. There have been several.
  • Instead of mourning the loss of things, we are rejoicing in the abundance of love — for and within each other and those around us.

I know it sounds cliche and strange, but when you ask me how I am today, I can absolutely say, without a doubt, something along the lines of:

Oh me? I’m great. Really great. I am blessed, and loved, and humbled. I have such a supportive and loving family, one I wouldn’t trade for the world, and I am incredibly healthy. I am taking part in one of God’s greatest miracles by growing a tiny life inside me, one that has been entrusted to my husband and me to care for as long as we live. I am free to laugh and to cry without judgement or question and I know a Man who died to save me from what I deserve on the days I’m not perfect. Even though I am experiencing some real discomfort right now, I am embracing it, because I know that not only will it pass, but it will further mold and shape me into the woman God has called me to be.

I am great. Thanks for asking. 

beauty and torture.

The other day I was putting on make up in front of my husband. Usually I don’t do that because Dan hates when I wear makeup, so I like to keep up the guise that I don’t actually wear it by waiting until I’m alone to put on just a tad of concealer to cover my blemishes. But this time, we were both getting ready for an event we were going to together, so I had to lift the veil.

As I was taking the eyelash curler to my lids, I had some interesting thoughts to myself:

This kind of looks like a torture device. I wonder if Dan, or any other male who is unfamiliar with such an apparatus, thinks I’m torturing myself? 

Wait. As a matter of fact, curling my eyelashes IS pretty bizarre, whether it looks so or not. These little hairs aren’t even an inch long. Does anyone notice whether I use the curler or not? Come to think of it, if I catch my eyelid at just the WRONG angle, it absolutely IS torture! I’m torturing myself! Ah!

Why do we do such strange things to ourselves in the name of beauty?

Today I stumbled across something on the Internet that takes the torture-for-beauty cake (and doesn’t eat it, apparently):

Image via The Daily What

(From TDW) Disturbing Trend of the Day: In a last-gasp attempt to fit into the THE DRESS, desperate brides-to-be in the U.S. (like Jessica Schnaider, pictured) can now have a feeding tube inserted into their nose that provides a drip of liquid protein and fat (with no carbohydrates) through the esophagus into the stomach. The $1,500, 10-day treatment is effective: The tube delivers just 800 calories a day, and generally results in the loss of at least 10 percent of body weight — and perfect wedding pictures. But… ew?

This makes me so sad. And hurt. And angry. Mostly, though, it makes me want to put my two weeks’ notice in on life on this earth.

I think about all my close friends whom have gotten married recently. I think about my close friends who are talking about getting married soon. I think about my wedding almost three years ago. And my heart breaks into a thousand pieces just imagining any of them literally torturing themselves like this before the happiest day of their lives.

I never watch the show Mike & Molly, but last night it was on while Dan and I were doing chores. The subject matter of last night’s episode was Molly being on an unhealthy juice fast in order to drop several pounds in three weeks to fit into her wedding dress. Sigh. Granted, the moral of the episode was that what Molly was doing was turning her into a crazy person, not at all the person that Mike wanted to marry, but still — the mere fact that this was portrayed on television at all puts the idea into girls’ heads that you can’t possibly wear a wedding dress without obsessing over your weight first. And oh, ha ha ha, it’s a comedy, so let’s all laugh at how silly it is instead of talking about how serious and disturbing it is. Oh ha ha ha, CBS, you’re hilarious.

So how did we get here? How did we get from ha ha ha, silly sit coms about overweight people, to bloody feeding tubes?! Are you kidding me? When will the insanity stop?

Why, oh why, are we perpetuating this? Why are we continually sending out messages that this type of behavior is acceptable and normal? WAKE UP, WORLD. THIS ISN’T OKAY.

I have no more words to offer. Instead, here’s Internet phenom Jenna Marbles on diets, F words and all. Enjoy.