After I hit 30 I noticed that certain things began to change. When I was 29 I was probably in the best shape of my life. I was getting married so I did what most people do….worked out a lot right before the wedding day. I was going to Hawaii for honeymoon and also going to be ‘neked’ in front of the husband for the first time so I wanted to look all splendid and stuff. I look back at photos of our honeymoon and think ,”Dang! I was pretty hot!”
I got pregnant four months after being married so watching my body shift and morph into a house for a baby was very surreal. I loved the preggy look but it was strange to share my space with another human. I’ve had two more since then and I’m closer to 40 than I am to 30. I’ve noticed a lot of changes since I was married and some of them are very profound. Some are pleasant, some are welcomed, some are very unpleasant and some just are. I want to see a bumber sticker that reads, “Cellulite happens” but I’m sure no one is brave enough to stick it to their car. It’s a lot more daring than throwing up “Obama ’08” or “I heart Pat Buchanan”
I find that there are areas that I buy into culture like the next shmuck when it comes to body image. This culture idolizes youth in a variety of ways but the young body is probably the most pervasive. Every check out stand I go to (except Trader Joe’s) I find magazines shaming female celebrities who dare to go out to a public beach with saggy thighs. There are also times where I really don’t care what is happening to me as I age. I like my grey hair and my wrinkles. I dye the grey sometimes otherwise I’d rockin’ the bride of Frankenstein look. It’s only greys on the sides. I also like my crows feet and laugh lines. I like my narrow face and the fact that I don’t look like I’m 25 anymore. I think there’s a certain dignity in getting older and watching things change.
The other areas that are hard to accept are back problems and various pains through the body. It seems like you hit 30 and your body turns on you. It slows down it’s metabolism so you just look at food and gain weight. Seriously, what is with that? Seems as you get older you actually need energy to keep yourself from atrophying. I have also noticed how my teeth are failing me. After nursing three babies they are really not as good as they should be. Now that I’ve had so much work done on my mouth I’m thinking of my teeth everyday. I think of how much sugar I eat and how it’s effecting my teeth. I notice other’s teeth like some sort of obsession. Just the other day an old man, maybe in his 80’s, was talking to me and I was noticing he had his original teeth….and, they looked great! Great for being in his 80’s. I can’t believe how much I’m noticing teeth now that mine are becoming weaker and weaker.
I don’t lament the loosening of my skin or the changing of my body as much as I’ve actually been heartbroken thinking of more pain, sickness and decay as I get older. The beauty of age is wisdom, peace and experience. I want to be one of those old women who smile a lot and drive so slow that everyone behind them gets pissy. Those slow drivers have all the time in the world to take it easy. They’ve rushed their whole lives, it’s time to rest and enjoy now. Ah, peace! Come to me in my old age! But can you please just leave my teeth in tact?
If there is one piece of advice I could give the youth today I would tell them…. Floss!
Trying to figure out the bike pump
Sometimes I find that my first response to the things that my kids want to do can be very reactionary. Oliver especially is the most curious little person I know and he often gets into things that are every day use items. He has been known to grab and play with batteries, screwdrivers, yard sticks, scissors, paper clips, lids, plates, cups, air pumps, tripods, wheels and the strange list goes on. Of course both of my kids like to play with toys but they often grab strange objects that are things I use every day. I actually had to put a stop to them taking my cooking and baking items because they often come up missing and it’s very irritating to want to bust out the corn on the cob holders a few times a year only to find that they went missing during a game of ‘hunting with small spears’.
As a tidy perfectionist that likes to keep the home in order (if it gets too cluttery I start to feel boxed in and stressed out) my first response is to say “No, put that back” every time they get into something that I’d actually like to use some day. It’s not really a toy and if it gets broken or goes missing I won’t be too happy. Also, I don’t really want it out because the house starts to get messy. That’s definitely my first response. I find myself reacting out of habit when they get into something that’s really not ‘theirs’.
Over the past few years I’ve had to realize that Oliver, especially, is so very curious and it’s easy to squelch his desire to learn. So I had to make a conscious decision to stop my first response and ask myself, “Is this really that big of a deal? Can they really break it? Can it be put back? What are they using it for?” It’s helped me to calm down (mellow out) and I’m sure it’s taught them a lot about inventing and exploring. Today, for example, I found Oliver grabbing Matt’s bike-tire pump and putting it down his pants then pumping air into his pants. Mmmmmkay…. As an adult I think that would be a very weird and inappropriate thing to do, but as a five-year old I can reason that he’s really just having fun. He’s not trying to be gross or lewd. So I got through my first response and just let him play. Later he started to work out what all of this air can do so he went on a hunt for items to blow up. He took out an apple juice jug from the recycling and grabbed the lid to use as a launch pad. When I saw it I just wanted him to put it away (recycling, old juice dripping = mess). But it really was quite amazing what he was doing. So I controlled the mess and just let him explore and he figured out how to blast things into the air using huge gusts of air. My little scientist.
It’s not easy for me to let my kids get into things. I like stuff in its place. I also don’t really like them touching things that aren’t really theirs or that aren’t even toys but I do think it’s good to allow kids amounts of freedom to explore and discover. I have been known to let my kids get bored enough so that they begin to discover, invent and use their imagination. That too isn’t always easy (kids complain when they get bored, or they get naughty) but it’s healthy and it’s organic. They seem to be wired to create and I have to keep giving them space to do that. So on to another day where I have to hold back my initial reactions and just let them be kids.
Using one cheese grater for a sword and one for a shield. He was a knight!
Oliver and Chloe reading to Sylvie
I thought the transition from two to three kids was going to take me down mentally and physically when I thought of the day Sylvie would arrive. Maybe it’s because going from one child to two was like whiplash as my first two are so close together. One day I was cuddling my son as he was hitting the 18 month mark and just a few months later my daughter came along. I found myself chasing after a highly active boy with a newborn in a car seat that was slung under my wrist. Even if I wore her on me I still had to chase a small boy while nursing and recovering from labor. I remember how scared I felt when Matt returned to work full-time and I was left in the house, outnumbered, by two little humans.
I thought that surely three would bring the type of chaos that drives women to develop a bad prescription pill problem and causes their homes to wreak of the ubiquitous soiled nappy. To my surprise the chaos hasn’t been much of an issue. What I have noticed is that I really don’t have much time for anything. I can be in the middle of cutting a sandwich in half and literally have to put it down mid slice because the screaming baby has to be held. Some days my laundry makes it to the front door (apartment living=laundry room) and just sits there until I get a chance to start it.
My most obvious sign that I have so little time these days is the fact that I haven’t written much even if I feel like I have a lot to say. I’d like to write just to vent or to heal. Gardening and writing were always my outlet once I was at home with babies. It’s not that it’s been taken from me as much as I’ve chosen to put other things first. I do however miss the process; writing (similar to journaling) to search for an answer or to prove to myself that my life is amazing. I’m sort of a verbal processor so if I can’t talk it out I need to write it out. I am also my worst critic and usually feel I’m not doing a good job at this ‘mommy’ thing. When I write I can see that I, in fact, am giving it my best and there is movement in terms of how my kids are developing.
When we moved to Washington my son started to really struggle with his attitude. I think it was all of the transition. For a boy who doesn’t transition well this might have been a bit traumatizing for him. Within less than a year we sold our home and said goodbye to the only place he’s ever known. We waved away all of our friends and moved into a much smaller living space with no garden to play in. He now shares a room with his sister and is making all new friends. We then had a baby and I put him in Kindergarten for 2.5 hours a day. Oh, the poor boy!
So since I haven’t been writing about our journey together I am unable to see where I am doing well with him and where I need to work through how I parent him. Basically I’m feeling a bit like a failure. It’s funny how the writing actually helped me step back and evaluate my efforts. The photos I posted went so well into my themed post that I could sit back with a sigh of accomplishment. I’m being honest in saying that the comments left have also been healing and have spurred me onto being a better mom. Funny how encouragement will do that; make you want to be more!
These days I have time to read to kids (some days even that doesn’t happen), make sure they aren’t wearing stinky clothes, bathe their bodies (although that too doesn’t always happen as much as it should), and feed them food that won’t make their teeth fall out someday. I’m also enjoying my new little girl something awful. There’s something about having a baby this time around. I’m more relaxed, choosing to enjoy her more. That’s about all I have time for these days. Keep stopping by. I love the company!