Month: January 2014

The Word of the Day is: Uh-oh

I think that “Uh-oh” must be every baby’s fifth word. It’s easy to say and they hear it so often—when they drop food from their high chair, when they scramble for the Legos on the floor, when they attempt to climb out of the bathtub. Uh-oh.

My baby learned this word yesterday, but he doesn’t quite get the proper usage yet. To him, uh-oh is a conversation starter. We’ve been passing it back and forth all day. He climbed on top of the storage bin and announced himself: uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh. He pushed open the door to his brother’s room: uh-oh. He’s uses uh-oh to unwittingly announce his misbehaviors because to him uh-oh has nothing to do with accidents, it’s just something we say when he’s in the midst of doing something really, really fun, like dumping a box of cereal all over the floor.

Image(Our first uh-oh of the day. Sorry this shot was blurry; I was tired. After taking this, I noticed that my older son is acting equally crazy in the background, and there’s a plastic guy on the floor along with the rejected food.)

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To my Second Son on his First Birthday

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Dear Andre,

You don’t know this, but today is your birthday. That’s the reason we’ve been gazing at you with wonder all week, saying things like “I can’t believe it.” It’s true. We can’t believe it—not just that you’re one, but that you’re here at all, and next year you’ll be walking and talking, and before we know it you’ll be leaving your stinky socks on the bathroom floor and hogging the computer. I have trouble picturing this future you. All I see are long legs and big feet. Still, here are some things I’d like you to know about this year.

1. First of all, good job coming out. You came fast a week before your due date, before I even had the chance to moan about how huge I was. You were smaller than I thought you’d be (thank you!), sweet and sticky with vernix. The first thing you did was latch on to the breast like you’d  already been nursing for months. The midwife joked that you came out to eat, and it was true—you ate and ate and ate. We brought you home and all night you slept on my chest and ate some more. I left the light on so I could see you. You were so tiny that I couldn’t sleep. I had to stay awake to make sure you were real.

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2. Did you know that your brother has always loved you? While you were born, he napped at our neighbor Kathy’s house, exhausted from waiting so long for your arrival. When he woke up, Kathy asked him if he wanted to go meet his new brother, and she told me that his face lit up like it was Christmas morning. Every morning since you’ve been born he says your name over and over in a crazy low voice, trying to make you laugh. It’s true that every day he comes close to knocking you over and in the bath he just can’t resist the temptation to pour water on your head and poke your butt, but he’s never once asked us to give you away. Image3. You spent your first summer in Colorado. Because of this, some things may be strangely familiar to you: thunderstorms and epic downpours, big changing skies, herds of elk, long slow walks. If later in your life wilderness feels familiar to you, more comforting than our sometimes busy, sometimes sleepy town, that’s why.  Perhaps it’s not kind of me, but I want you to long for wilderness, to be not quite happy in the city. Your other mom and I are both that way and I suppose we need our sons to feel a similar angst.Image4. Because you are the second child, you will never be the only one. Sometimes I grieve about this; I won’t come to know you in the same, undivided way I came to know your brother. Two days ago I spent the whole day with you alone. We read a book together, and you loved the picture of the lion, you loved it when I roared, and you roared too. That was new—your ability to see something, understand it, and apply it all within a minute, and I wondered if it was truly as sudden as it seemed. Maybe you’d been capable of this for weeks but I hadn’t noticed. How much have I been missing in this shuffle to get to work, to feed you, to put you to bed, to do all of those things with your brother as well?

5. From the time you were born, people have marveled at your super baby strength. You have a preternatural combination of will and muscle. For instance: One day I left you in your high chair with a snack, and then heard you wailing moments later. I ran in, assuming you had climbed out and tumbled to the floor. But you hadn’t. You had climbed to the kitchen counter, dropped your body down, and instead of falling hung on for dear life, dangling and crying but gripping the counter with only your bare hands. I have no idea how such tenacity will evolve as you grow older, but trust me: I’m certain this story is no accident. When you are a grown man, this will all make sense.

If you ever return to this letter, if you ever do read these words, know that all three of us—your two moms and one brother—have always adored you, even when we are pouring water on your head, or asking why you just won’t go to sleep, just as no doubt we will someday be shaking our heads wondering why you just can’t get your stinky socks inside the hamper.

Love,

MJ

In Response to Maria Kang’s ‘Apology’: Moms Need to Eat

ImageSo, I may be coming into this discussion a little late, but I recently started reading about Maria Kang. She’s the one who posted the above image on Facebook. After it went viral, she posted what she called her “First and Final Apology”, addressed to her so-called “haters”. I’ve included it below.

I’ve been getting an influx of new followers, emails and comments (on my profile pic) recently. Some saying I’m a bully, I’m fat-shaming and I need to apologize for the hurt I’ve caused women. I get it. SO here’s my First and Final Apology:

I’m sorry you took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way. I won’t go into details that I struggled with my genetics, had an eating disorder, work full time owning two business’, have no nanny, am not naturally skinny and do not work as a personal trainer. I won’t even mention how I didn’t give into cravings for ice cream, french fries or chocolate while pregnant or use my growing belly as an excuse to be inactive.

What I WILL say is this. What you interpret is not MY fault. It’s Yours. The first step in owning your life, your body and your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your own head. I didn’t create them. You created them. So if you want to continue ‘hating’ this image, get used to hating many other things for the rest of your life. You can either blame, complain or obtain a new level of thought by challenging the negative words that come out of your own brain.

With that said, obesity and those who struggle with health-related diseases is literally a ‘bigger’ issue than this photo. Maybe it’s time we stop tip-toeing around people’s feelings and get to the point. So What’s Your Excuse?

(Here’s the original post on Facebook.)

First of all, um, that is not an apology.

Instead of apologizing, Kang is basically claiming that anything offensive we might see in this image reflects our own self-loathing and has nothing to with her message or the image itself.

Maria Kang, you are acting as if you posted an inkblot and inside that inkblot we saw the darkness of our own souls.

But that is not accurate. You posted an image with a clear message. The clarity of that message is what makes it effective. It’s what made it go viral and no doubt jump-start your career. Here’s what the image + words say to me:  

  1. You are incredibly fit and incredibly thin.
  2. You are a mother of three.
  3. Because you are incredibly fit and incredibly thin, and a mother of three, other women have no excuse to not be similarly fit and thin.

A and B are fine, but C has some implications that offend me.

C implies that if my body doesn’t look like yours, I need an excuse; I need to defend myself, to ask forgiveness. Why? Is it my job to be small, to take up as little room as possible? Is it my responsibility to be as beautiful as humanly possible at any cost? For whom?

C also implies that no excuse that I can offer is valid. It suggests that your body, as pictured in the photo, is an achievable goal for most women. The discussions I’ve seen online reveal that plenty of people share the view that all women could achieve that level of thinness without significant risk to their health. (When I look over the comments that follow your apology, I note that many of your fans dismiss your critics (you prefer to call them “haters”) as lazy and fat, e.g. on January 19: “FAT ASSES got angry ahaha Keep inspiring people Maria. And keep making fat asses angry. After all it’s a good sign that they get angry although they express it in an un-healthy (again) way by hating on you lol!” ) Beyond that, they assume that thinness itself is a sign of health; the thinner you are, the healthier you are. I question that assumption.

And yet it’s true that my interpretation of your photo reflects more than the image itself and the words you chose to accompany it. It also reflects a lifetime of cultural messaging that my body will not be acceptable until I’ve tamed it, until my legs and underarms are hairless, my stomach is flat, and no part of me jiggles (except of course, my boobs). But I did not “create” this reaction, as you suggest. No, my reaction is the tension between the knowledge that these messages are wrong and the reality that they still have the power to affect me, to make me feel inadequate.

Still, I don’t want to be stuck in that negativity. I want to be free of it. I want to eat until I’m full—healthy delicious food that contains fat, calories, protein, and nutrients. I want to make cookies with my kids AND eat them. I want to run in my tight pants without worrying if my ass looks too big to the people behind me.

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I’m Too Tired to “Savor this Moment”

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My younger son sleeps well from eight until midnight. At midnight he cries, nurses, and pretends that all is well. Twelve minutes later he’s crying again. And then again, and again, like clockwork every twelve minutes. On a good night I may lose two hours to this rhythm. On a bad night, I barely sleep at all. People had told me that second children often sleep better than the first. During my pregnancy, I prayed that this baby would be a sleeper—I even bargained with the gods, offering to take some other difficulty in exchange, just please let this baby sleep better than the first. But this morning at four am, I heard myself telling my partner Harlan never was this bad, and she agreed, instantly. (My partner rarely agrees instantly.)

This is one of the reasons why I’m tired.

Also, I’m tired because the baby can now crawl faster than I can walk and make messes faster than I can clean them up. This means that we are a walking equation of energy conserved vs. energy expended and there is no feasible way for me to come out on top. For instance, if I want to do a the dishes before putting him to bed, I have to be okay with him unpacking, tearing, and drooling on the pile of papers we’ve stashed behind the cupboard.

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These days, I find myself astonished by the sheer repetition of things. I can’t believe that we have to eat dinner every single night when we’ve already eaten breakfast and lunch, that each of these meals fills the sink with more dishes, that the baby needs his diaper changed again, and this is his fifth poop of the day.

I’m so tired that when I hear that advice from well-meaning people about savoring every moment with my children, I can’t help but feel guilty because I spend so many moments doing precisely the opposite. Rather than being present, I look forward to the day when the baby is old enough that I can ask him to fetch me the scissors and he will do that for me while I remain on the couch. That’s all. I don’t dream about college or weddings or grandchildren; I dream about being able to finish a conversation with my spouse, or eat an entire meal uninterrupted; I dream about the day that I can sleep for eight hours uninterrupted, the day I stop dreading bedtime.

Sometimes I think about the people who tell me to savor every moment. Often they are parents whose kids are teenagers or long grown and they’d give anything to hold their own babies in their arms one more time, to smell their heads, to be drooled on, to change diapers just for an hour or a day. And maybe they regret every moment they spent staring off in space or wishing their kids could fetch them the scissors already. To those parents, I just want to say: It’s okay. You were there. You loved some of those moments. But also, remember. You were really, really tired.