It’s time for the official what makes me thankful Thanksgiving post! And for me, every day, I am most thankful my son has erased the bitterness that used to sit in my heart and eat away at me, especially around the holidays.
I was always indifferent about having children. Take ’em or leave ’em. But mostly just take them far away from me. The day I found out I was pregnant for the first time I was more shocked than excited. It was a sudden life change I didn’t think I was ready for. And then slowly the idea grew on me until I was excited. I bought books, signed up for websites, started prepping and then it all came crashing down when I started cramping in the middle of the night. And then suddenly that baby and all our family plans were gone overnight. And then the bitterness set in.
We didn’t start officially trying for another year, but by then I was already avoiding baby showers and hiding all my friends on Facebook that were happily posting cute baby pictures. Christmas cards that were just pics of children went straight in the trash. Birth announcements were like little daggers in my heart. Over the next seven years we went through charting, fertility drugs, IUI and finally IVF. Over that span of time I missed out on celebrating my friends’ births and taking an interest in their children because it all just made me sad. I got tired of people asking and just started telling everyone we didn’t want kids. I was a big liar.
Trying and failing for so long, and going through a monthly rollercoaster of being excited and hopeful, then sad and depressed really takes a toll on a person. And even when you try to stay level-headed, you still go a little crazy. It’s why I started my original blog Stop Telling Me to Relax. I needed an outlet and writing has always helped. And through that I connected to other people going through the same thing. I’m thankful for those people as well. It makes me incredibly happy when I check back in on them and see another one has been able to move out of that place of hope and despair.
I’m a different person now. I smile when I see baby announcements. I enjoy baby showers. I love seeing pics of my friends’ kids on Facebook. I️ reactivated all those people I hid years before, went through their photos and caught up on their lives. Having a child was, and is still, such an amazing huge heart-healing experience for me. It’s like that little black cold angry part of my heart just melted away. And it always reminds me of the Grinch, and how his heart grew three sizes that day. That’s how my son makes me feel every day, and I will forever be thankful for that.
“We need to clean that stuff off his toes after the bath, it’s embarrassing.”
When I heard my husband yell this from the bathroom, at first I was confused, because I had just clipped K’s toenails the day before and was pretty sure they were clean. Then I glanced down at my toes and realized my supposedly open-minded husband was referring to our son’s sparkling blue pedicure.
I cringed a little. Wondering, was it actually embarrassing? Have I wronged our son in some way by indulging his request to have blue toes? Will he someday become a drag queen known as Blue Velvet and my husband will point at me and say it’s all my fault?
It was so cute when he saw me painting my toes and asked specifically for me to paint his big toe. He squealed in delight and waved his foot in the air. Then he pointed to the next toe, “Do this one!” So I did. And he proceeded to point to each toe until he had them all done. I had fun sharing the experience with him. He even let me put a little quick dry top coat on and sat waiting for them to dry. I think it was the first time he sat still all day.
I stopped cringing and second guessing myself after a couple minutes and realized screw that, he can have blue toes if he wants. He’s two. Who the heck cares? So I shouted back they are staying blue unless he wants to be the one to try and take it off.
The next morning we were outside when my neighbor walked by. She complimented the blue toes and added “we do the same thing at our house.” That sentiment was echoed again when I posted the photo online. Apparently, at houses all over the world, little boys are getting their toenails painted! Who knew? Well now I do, and I’m perfectly fine with that 🙂 (of course, I will have to eventually take it off because everybody knows toenail polish can survive a nuclear war)
If you like to skip to the end for the answers, it’s because they’re kids. And no matter what my mother says, they are all little monsters at times. It’s possible my mom got off easy and I was actually the quiet little well-behaved angel she describes. But she set the bar pretty high with the way I judged children. And of course now every one of those judgements is flying back in my face as complete crap while I watch my son run from room to room squealing and whacking things with a stick.
That time our friends came to visit and their two sons managed to disable our TV remote, break a wine glass and grab our toothbrushes of the counter? I get it.
That kid I saw dragged off the playground today screaming at the top of his lungs? Been there.
Also that time I just couldn’t understand why our 4 year old cousin grabbed a hurling stick and just started bashing it on the ground until it busted? Well I have seen that reenacted right here at home.
So all these “awful” things that had me horrified about these unmanageable crazy children…well now I realize they were just being children. And every time I realize that, I feel a little sheepish for my previously uninformed judgements. I don’t even question the crazy anymore. I understand now it’s just some childhood instinct that kicks in and they act insane. I also understand that it is just going to keep happening no matter how “good” anyone’s parenting skills might be.
Because they’re kids. And That’s why they do that.
I have always loved Halloween night. I still remember the thrill of getting dressed up and running around the neighborhood in the dark. There would be kids running everywhere, house to house, demanding candy. There was such excitement and fun in the air.
Then I got older and didn’t get to trick-or-treat anymore. To be honest, I did keep it up until I was 18. But then I finally had to accept my time was done.
But now: Enter the Child
My son is my ticket back into the socially acceptable practice of parading in the streets for free candy on All Hallows Eve. I have taken him trick-or-treating since he was 6 months old. This was the first year he was into it. Oh he didn’t care one bit about his costume, but he sure made a beeline for those candy baskets. He caught on fast and had no shame grabbing as much as he could stuff in his little toddler hands.
And I was lucky to have recently moved to a neighborhood that really celebrates things the way I remembered. Kids were running from house to house, everyone was out and dressed up, it was amazing. Plus there was the added bonus of the adults enjoying themselves as well and serving up adult beverages along the way. I had a never-ending wine glass, and got to trick-or-treat. It was Awesome!
So according to my calculations, I should get at least another 10 years of trick-or-treating out of this arrangement…lol
I’ve been working really hard on getting my body back to “normal” since having my son. Normal for me has always been pretty fit. I started at around 130 lbs. and went up to 180 in my last cake-obsessed month of pregnancy. At least, 180 is when I stopped looking at the scale. After I had my son, my normally size 4 self was hovering around a 12/14. Nothing fit. I wore my maternity shorts for the entire summer and raided my husband’s wardrobe for t-shirts because mine were all too tight.
It’s taken me two years but I recently got back to somewhere near my pre-baby weight. I managed to get the scale to budge after joining a gym with the glorious incentive of free child care. I also recently shot photos for a local Jacksonville magazine for their Best of Jax edition.
So imagine my horror when I see one of the raw pics, where I am leaning forward and my belly is squishing out the bottom of my corset. Because yes I still have some squish. It made me think of Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl performance where everyone was focused on her exposed belly pooch. So see, it doesn’t matter who you are, if you are wearing something tight on the bottom and bend a certain way, stuff squishes or pooches!
I was relieved to see the art director fixed it before publishing. He said he wasn’t sure if he should because some people are sensitive about Photoshop, but I was like, oh hell no, Photoshop me all you want! It’s not like we were shooting family photos and going for realism. I was dressed as a circus sideshow Strong Woman. I don’t feel like my character would be squishy.
Original photo on the left, published photo on the right with artfully placed text box.
A little squishy
As for me, I’m headed back to the gym to keep working on this squishy thing. But if it’s always there? Oh well. Every bit of squish was worth it. My belly did an amazing job of expanding to accommodate my growing son. It’s pretty amazing what the body can do! And pretty amazing the way it bounces back as well, with a little effort of course.