My Joyfully Full, Utterly Broken Heart

Nearly every night before I go to bed, I sneak into my son’s bedroom and shine light on him to watch his sweet breaths for a moment. The panicky part of my mom brain does it to make sure he’s OK, that’s he’s alive and well, and the calm part of my mom brain does it just because I want to see him a moment more before I close my own eyes for the night. And while this little ritual is special to me every night, tonight it was very emotional for me, because when I wake in the morning, my baby will be a whole entire year old.

How can I describe what this feels like? Before James was born, I was terrified and excited. After he was born, I fell in love with this tiny human, and somehow managed to fall more and more and more in love with him every minute of every day. And now, I have this wellspring of love and memories inside me, and my heart is full and broken all at once.

Already I miss his sweet baby coos; I miss the feel of his swaddled newborn body as I struggled to stay awake and hold him; I miss his sweet little face and head shape before his surgery; I miss his first time rolling over, his first crawl, his first steps; I miss being in labor and the feeling–both physically and emotionally–the split second after he entered this world and they laid him on my chest.

And yet, I love my toddler (it’s even hard to type the word!). I love the way he walks to me, the way he flings his body toward me when I’m close enough with biggest smiles and sweetest laughs, the way he pulls at my legs and lifts his arms toward me, knowing I’ll scoop him up. I love how he buries his face into my shoulder and sighs. I love how he trusts that if I’m there, he can’t fall. I love the way he throws his arms up when I say, “How big are you? So big!” I love the sound of his voice as he says, “Dada.” I love this sweet toddler phase, even if he’s into everything and so sweetly wild.

So my heart is so joyfully full of how amazing my baby is and how amazing this life is with him, and it’s so utterly broken by the parts of motherhood that are gone forever with him.

I’m so grateful for my son. I’m so grateful that I get to be his mom. I’m so grateful for the last year, and I’m so looking forward to the next. But for the first time in my life, I understand the times my mommy and daddy have said that no matter how old I get, and no matter how far away I live, I will always be their baby, because James will ALWAYS be my baby. As he starts to talk, to walk, to go to school, to drive, to get married and have his own children, he will forever be my sweet baby who was born so very early on a Monday morning, who barely cried at all–until they took him away to weigh him–and who from the very start stared up at me with the biggest, most amazing blue eyes as if to say, “Hi mommy, we’re in this together now.”

James born
Moments after James was born.
James before 1
Moments after James was born.

Is Skinny Always Better?

What is it that makes being SKINNY better than being not skinny? I mean, I know that being overweight can be detrimental to your health, but so can being underweight. Why is it that when a person, more often than not a woman, gains weight, a lot of people around act as if that person should be embarrassed or ashamed?

I remember in high school, thinking I was so fat, and being sure that’s why the boys I liked didn’t like me. Looking back, they may have liked me, they may not have, but I never knew because I was so worried about my weight that I never even told them how I felt. If it weren’t for the fact that Vince and I started dating because we were such good friends first, I know I could have easily ruined our relationship (and almost have many times since) by obsessing over the fact that I wasn’t SKINNY enough, that I was too fat, too ugly (because of the fatness). Even when we got engaged and married, I thought the whole time, “I hate that I’m so fat for these pictures.” (see below)

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t wish I were skinnier. Hotter. Fitter. Sexier. Before we started trying to have James, I was in the best shape of my life and I didn’t even know it. I just looked in the  mirror every day and thought, “Maybe SOMEday I’ll look good.” And then I had a baby and ate poorly, and now I weigh so much more. Sometimes I just sit and cry, and think, “I’ve lost the years of my life when I can be skinny and enjoy it, so why even bother?” And then I look at my super hot husband, and I’m overrun with guilt, because he’s super hot, and I can’t fit in my pre-pregnancy jeans.

But then he looks at me, and tells me I’m beautiful. And I see in his eyes that he means it, but I can’t reconcile that truth with the truth that I’ve believed my whole life, and that is SKINNY IS PRETTY.

Which leads me to my very long-winded point. Why do we associate being thin with being beautiful? There are an infinite number of body shapes and types, so why do we think to be beautiful, you have to fit in this very limited category of wearing a certain style of clothes in a certain size? Why can’t I believe my husband when he tells me I’m beautiful unless I can fit into a size 4 jeans? Is it just me? Or is there something fundamentally wrong with the way women are treated and perceived?

To be honest, I’m writing this because I’m EXTREMELY emotional today about my weight, about the fact that that number on the scale isn’t going down and my only jeans aren’t going on. But I hope that by writing this, I can start to talk myself out of these long held beliefs that SKINNY IS BETTER, because it isn’t.

 

**disclaimer: I am not saying that people shouldn’t strive to be healthy. Eat healthy foods! Exercise! Get lots of water and lots of sleep. But don’t let your weight dictate your worth. And saying all this is more for me than anyone.