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Friday, October 28, 2011

Labels Stick.

I know, you are not suppose to label your children, but as much as parents claim that they don't, they do. In our family, Parker is our social one. Finegan is the smart one, Jack is the artist, and Oscar is a biter.  Unfortunately for Oscar, he has been labeled this and it will probably stick, we also call him a Parana.
Labels are considered a good thing in everything else. I label all my files at work, I have spices labeled.  Early on I was labeled as funny. My sister was labeled as organized and socially retarded and my brother was labeled as talented and perfect. Turns out all of those were true, at least from my parents perspective. And please don't be offended by the word retarded, I mean it in the true sense of the word..
verb |riˈtärd| [ trans. ]
delay or hold back in terms of progress, development, or accomplishment : his progress was retarded by his limp.

My mom blamed this ( and many other things) on her frequent ear infections as a baby.
Anyway, my label was given when at 2 years old I stood up at a family function and told a joke that I had made up, and everyone laughed, not a courtesy laugh, a real laugh. To this day, I still find it pretty darn funny.
Why did the cow cross the road? To mooooooon all the people!  I had come up with this after my brother went on a mooning rampage.  Mooning was much more popular in the 80's.
My sister got her label because she started collecting bugs for her bug collection when she was in 6th grade even though her bug collection wasn't due until 8th grade. Come to think of it, it is probably the same reason she got diagnosed with social retardation too. My dad built her a wooden case with blue felt and she labeled each hexapoda (with her Dymo label maker) and preserved each insect to have it perfectly displayed. Thank goodness, because nine years later I broke into her bug collection that was mounted on a shelf and I used it for my own project. Unfortunately my teacher noticed that the carcass's were a little deteriorated... and knew my sister.
My brother was good looking and talented and got away with anything and everything, even doing flash moonings. This is where a butt shows up where you least expect it, like a laundry hamper or car window and scares the crap out of you. Now as part of his profession he is half naked swinging to and fro on stages around the world. My sister is a successful business woman and I'm...well, entertaining audiences, even if they are forced to listen because they work with me, or they live with me.
So I guess labels stick. I don't want you to think that I tattoo each boy with their life long label, it just inside knowledge that my husband and I are certain of. It doesn't mean that Jack can't bite, or that Oscar can't draw. It just means that each one of them is the best (at least in our family) at one thing.
Yesterday out of the blue, Finegan asked me why we are baptized.  I explained that when you are baptized you become a child of God. (It was the best I could come up with at the time.) Within two seconds, he said, "so when we were born we weren't children of God?"
"Well yes, but..."
"Didn't you say Daddy wasn't baptized until Parker was born? So was he a devil baby?"
"No, why are we talking about this?"
His brain just works differently, analytically and he knows numbers like rain man.
Parker spends his recess playing tag with girls. He knows his third grade drama like a soap opera. These are the days of our lives.... and always wants to be in the center of it.
Jack draws on everything and I have a welt on the back of my arm where the Parana bit me.
In our little circle, the boys have also acknowledged that their brothers are talented. Soicalboy asks Smartypants for the answers to his math work, Smartypants asks socialboy about recess etiquette. It all works out in the end.  Maybe artist boy will paint another Sistine Chapel and Parana will open the cans of paint.  As long as you work your label I don't think they are half bad and although they may not know what their exact label is, they know it is a strength that their brothers can look to them to for expert advice and makes their blood fraternity all that more diverse.

Label on..

Monday, October 24, 2011

Body, why have you forsaken me?

I have a complicated relationship with my body.  There is a dial up connection between my brain and my physique. For example.  Every night around 9 pm when the house has finally become calm, my legs take me to the freezer and my arm assists in getting ice cream into a bowl. My mouth is also an accomplice in this food crime.  My left brain is saying "no you idiot!"  then my right brain, which has tempted me all these years overcomes the logical side by justifying it as a reward, and as always, wins.  The last thing I need before I go to bed is a bowl of ice cream and I don't regret it until the naked walk of shame into the shower the next day.  As I take a shower my brain is bullying my body.  "Maybe if you stopped eating ice cream you wouldn't have this chub in this place or a muffin in this place". (And that is a mild beating.) And for whatever reason, I go along with it.  Being a lifelong Oprah watcher I would be an idiot to not recognize that it is "emotional eating" and if that emotion is pure bliss, then I guess I fit the profile.  The other day Don thought he would take a playful peek over the shower curtain. Had he realized what would follow this typical manly gesture he would have thought twice. "What are you looking at? My butt?  Don't look at it! I know its chubby, why do you do this to me? Go away!" All this time he hasn't said anything but  "I just wanted you to know I'm taking the boys outside". Yeah sure, likely story.  And with that he evacuates the home in an attempt to shelter his son's from a woman's wrath.
Many people blame media, or the unrealistic examples of the female form in society for this self hatred, but I blame myself.  I think it began way before I had kids.  I would fret over a tiny bit of fat on my belly. I wasn't trying to look like a model I just wanted to be in the best shape I could be in. I find this interesting because now I can walk through the mall and see plenty of girls half my age with an exposed muffin top simultaneously eating an Aunt Annie's pretzel and downing a venti caramel machiato without a second thought, maybe they are emotional eaters too and have mall anxiety or something.

I'm not one to blame others however, I feed myself and since I could drive I have been carting my a** to the gym at 5 a.m.  Originally it was to keep myself in shape in the off season of soccer, but soon it became an addiction, one I think saved me from getting into (too) much trouble.
I was trying to remember if there was ever a time when I was truly happy with my body and I can answer yes, but it was always in retrospect. If I look at my 20 year old body I drool.  But this is 14 years later. 
In an effort to stop this horrific cycle I need to appreciate everything that I have and stop whining about it. The Universe has an interesting way of doing things and although we have freewill I can't help but think that there is a bit of a master plan.   Little did I know that all those mornings in the gym would prepare my body to be a baby making machine.  And I mean MACHINE!  My body stepped up and brought its "A" game.  So much so, that my boys didn't want to leave it. So the pregnancy was perfect, the birth, well not so much.   My oven would have kept cooking those buns until they were 2 if it could.   I think that is when my brain took over.  "Seriously? You want to push a 9 lb. baby out of what? And my body agreed.  When the baby was surgically removed (against his will) my body mourned the loss and my brain needed time to catch up.
Having a baby and within minutes feeding them perfect temperature, perfect nutrition from my body was mind blowing. It was the first time I truly appreciated it and was in awe.
That awe is quickly passed with the pressure to look like I was never pregnant or have had a baby by the next month. I was so frustrated when my clothes didn't fit.
What I don't understand is why women are so quick to want to hide the fact they just had a baby? When women run marathons or even a 5k you will find their number pinned to a bulletin board in their office and the race photo as thier profile picture on facebook. What you won't find is a picture of a jelly belly right after birth as a badge of honor. No sir, but maybe we should.

I recently began playing soccer after a long long hiatus.  I immediately felt at home on the field. I was ready to play but I quickly realized that a 34 year old body is not meant to be playing soccer, especially one who has had babies..  I don't see Mia Hamm out there kicking the ball around after she had a baby. (Not that I am anywhere close to her level, even post baby).   It wasn't the endurance that killed me, it was my joints. I wondered how I was able to do this for half of my life? Once again, pre-body envy.
But this time what keeps me going isn't my coach, or my need to be the best. It is the four little guys on the side lines cheering me on.  How can I not appreciate my body that has created my own little cheering section? Perhaps the Universe is intervening again.  Saying, that you may not have a perfectly toned midsection, or fat free legs, but what you do have is strength.   I can't think of a better lesson for four boys than to see their mom,  playing. Playing anything, but taking time only for me to play, and fully enjoy every second of it.   They don't care if I score or not, for that little minute as I painfully tried to pick up speed I could see out of the corner of my eye a blur of smiles cheering for me.  They weren't cheering because I had a perfect body, they were just cheering because they had never seen me in that light, and for that moment our roles had reversed. And in celebration, we might even go home and have ice cream, I deserve it after all right?