Monday, September 7, 2015

A month seems so long yet is not

As I got dressed for church, I grumbled. I could not just wear jeans today, since I was scheduled as Lector. Most of the pants I have are either too small, or too big. Or they fit my waist, but my hips and thighs make them too tight. Or they fit my hips and leave so much gap that it would look crappy with all the fabric bunching in a belt. Such is the life of having a ghetto bootie. Dammit, I should be fitting in to that pair of maternity pants, not trying to figure out if this regular pair might fit. They should ALL be too small! None of these pants are supposed to fit. I am supposed to be seeing a little 14/15 week bump and lamenting that nothing fits because there is a mini human in the making who is causing me to grumble about my wardrobe. I huffed as I settled on the purple striped dress. I was running out of time to look for anything else, it was appropriate for church, and it fit.
It was not till I was about to walk out the door, that I realized I was wearing the same dress I was wearing 5 Sundays ago. And the same shoes were on my feet. The only difference was the undergarments, and that was only because the ones I wore 5 weeks prior were too big for me now.
Then my friend came by with a shawl she knitted for me, made out of the same yarn as the tiny miniature blanket and hat she made while we sat vigil over a month ago. It is a beautiful blue, with beading, and lace, and a lot of love in it. She said it was so that I would have a warm hug when I needed it. I knew she was making it, but had not seen the pattern. She wouldn't have posted the project in her Ravelry project page because she knew I might run the chance of seeing it before she gave it to me. I tucked it into my bag because I wanted to show it to anybody who would listen, and I might need a hug.
I arrived at church early enough to catch any instructions from the sacristan, and glance over the Prayers of the Faithful. If you are not Catholic, this is the part where the congregation responds to prayer intentions with "Lord, hear our prayer". I was stopped cold at the 3rd line. That one was for people in grief. I asked the eucharistic ministers for extra prayers during that portion of Mass. I was afraid I would lose my composure at the ambo in front of the congregation. I sought out Father J to ask him to send up extra prayers and shared my concern. I got through it with a cracked voice and I  could feel the prayers bolstering me, cheering me on with a quiet "You can do this. Keep going." I went to my seat but did not stay there but a few seconds. I escaped to the conference room to cry because I could not hold it in any longer. It took me several minutes to regain my composure and return to the sanctuary. I could see Father J was relieved that I was back. 
After Mass, my daughter said that she heard my voice crack and she immediately looked at Fr J, and he was about ready to continue for me if I wasn't able. I was also greeted by a couple friends asking what was going on with me. I told them. I had a miscarriage at the end of July. It has been a tough month. One of these friends has always told me I need to stop saying "upright and breathing" as a response to someone asking me how I am doing. My answer to that is if I'm having a craptastical day, I am not lying by saying "fine" when I am in fact not fine. She argued that it was speaking something other than gratitude or joy into the world. Today I told her that it was perfectly acceptable to say "upright and breathing" because I am just *not* fine, well, dandy, or good. Some days I'm barely surviving. 
I came home, changed clothes and just crawled into bed. I didn't even greet my husband. I was just on the verge of tears. He found me a few minutes later, asking if I was mad at him. I related the gist of things and bed surfed most of the afternoon. I could not muster the energy to do anything. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted and it was taking a physical toll on me. I fell asleep a while later, and when I woke up, my husband was making soup and grilled cheese for dinner. Once again he is picking up my slack and taking care of me. I don't know where he is with his grief or mourning, but I do know that he wants me to just be ok, and when I am not, he does what he can to at least bolster me. I am in awe of how much he pours his love in to me and just wants me well. He will tell you he is not good with words. Sometimes he has said things that did not help me in my grief, although well-intended. But his actions speak volumes to me. And I don't know how long it will take till I don't need to rely on those little actions so much to get through the moment. I only know exactly how much they mean to me when I am at a weak spot.

Friday, September 4, 2015

You look good for .... what?

In the past several weeks, I have repeatedly heard "You look good for having five kids."

whut tha whut??

First of all, what *SHOULD* I look like for having five children? Well, 6 when you count angel Francis. Seriously. What is anyone expecting? Frumpy? Dowdy? Do they expect that I'll be dressing like the stereotypical evangelical homeschooling matron? Do you expect that I am supposed to look like I just rolled out of bed in my clothes from yesterday like a slovenly teenager from a 1980s movie?

Stop saying that to people.

Either we look good, or you look silent. Full stop. When people say to me "You look good for having 5 kids", I have taken to snarkily responding with "How about I just look good, period." What people see about me is physical appearance, and it is one that people want for themselves or they hate me for it. I have said it before, and I will say it again. I. CAN. NOT. HELP. THE. PHYSICAL. PERSON. I. HAVE. Do not hate me for winning the genetic lottery, because it comes with caveats. My grocery bill will forever look like I'm feeding a herd of teens. My clothing is difficult to fit properly because of curves, a long rise, big feet, and broad shoulders, and what is available in stores is not always appropriate for my age.

What you don't know or care to know is that I am not the picture of health. I have weak core that my chiropractor has been nagging at me for 6 years to rebuild. I have not done it. I own my laziness, and I make no excuses such as time, energy, etc. I just do not do it. I know this. I admit every second of it. What you don't know or care is that I have a high metabolism, and if I skip meals, I get migraines. It has gotten worse the older I get, too. What you don't know or care to know is that I think people who say "You look good for....(insert qualifier)" are problematic. You need to know and you need to care about that last one.

When you tell me I look good for having 5 kids, what you are telling my best friend with 5 kids is that she's fat, slovenly, ugly, a pig, or she is lazy. A lazy day for her still outpaces my busy ones by a million miles. She battled an eating disorder and STILL fights it daily as an adult. She has diastasis recti which is only going to be corrected by surgery because pregnancy really did a number on her and physical therapy has only done so much to improve it. When you tell me I look good for having 5 kids, what you tell another friend of mine is that she is inadequate for not being able to lose all that weight after just one baby. She has PCOS and some other issues, not that it is any of your business. Maybe it needs to be your business, so you can educate yourself on the challenges of that situation. What you're telling another friend who doesn't have any children is that she is not enough because she's overweight, and has no excuse for it since she didn't have any kids yet.

What you're telling me when you say I look good for having 5 kids is that I am doing something wrong. You're telling me that I shouldn't "qualify" to look this way, or that I shouldn't "qualify" to have 5 kids. Nope, no way. I don't need to qualify for either equation. I am raising kids to be independent, capable of functioning without me in the adult world, and to have the kind of work ethic to be a leader that gets stuff done. THAT is what matters most. Am I proud of the way I look? Yes, I am. There is no shame in the way I look. I know I am easy on the eyes, but I also know that could change in a BLINK with one momentary turn of the world. Do I enjoy getting compliments? Absofreakinlutely! Who doesn't!?!?!

I do enjoy the reactions I get when people learn I am the mother of many, and that my oldest can make the beer run for me, or that I am nearing age 40. It's fun. It gives people something to think about in terms of looks being deceiving. It boosts my mood when I hear a compliment. But a compliment should not come with a qualifier, or at the cost of someone else. Lift up someone's soul without exception, qualification, or exclusion. Do it because it is the right thing to do, or because someone's spirits just need the boost. Don't do it because your expectations and their reality are in different lanes.