Biggest and Best

I have always been a little person. Always. Since pre-memory I have taken pride in hiding in spaces that should be too small for me to fit in. I didn’t weigh over 100lbs until I was in 6th grade. Puberty didn’t strike until I was 15 and I was 19 before I got my b cups. I look back and realize I should have worn a bikini absolutely everywhere.

Fast forward to 33. Two children have given me stretch marks on my stomach and thighs, an uncontrollable eye roll reaction, and the beginnings of laugh lines around my eyes and mouth. They have also stretched out my boobs to look more like udders and eating their leftovers and running on spiritually empty for a *while now*, plus quarantine and keeping a handle on my depression – I have gained some weight. Not a significant amount. About 25 lbs. But when you’ve been told your whole life how small you are – not fitting into adolescent clothes as an adult seems like a game changer.

But instead of falling back into starvation and self loathing and over exercising (because I promised my body I would honor her instead) I have spent the last year just letting her be. Loving her through my insecurities. Finding new voices to listen to. (Specifically the voices of my partners telling me how sexy my juicy booty is, how worthy I am, how good I look.) And understanding that if “getting skinner” is my goal, I’m always going to fail. Not because I can’t diet or exercise or lose the weight – I have absolute faith in my ability to do that. But because there is no gain in getting skinnier. There is no reason to be other than to fit into a set of criteria that our society has dictated that has no place in reality and puts a buttload of mental energy into looking… thin. And like… thin? That’s it? Not like a warrior goddess here to kick ass and heal? Not a full heart nor aligned chakras nor knowledge about myself nor a healthy appreciation for the body that has brought me this far? Just. Thin.

Fuuuuuuuuck that. Fuck it all the way to purity culture and back. And what would that teach my daughter? Sorry honey, mama is barely holding on so I can get a brief and insufficient hit of dopamine because I can fit into a size 4 again. Sorry honey, it’s not that ice cream makes my body feel bad, or isn’t healthy, or that I don’t enjoy it but because I have to listen to these rules to look a certain way or I’ll spend our story time trying to burn off these calories. Fuck fucking nope.

Things I want for my body: increased strength (my kids are getting fucking heavy!), increased endurance (wheezing after 2 minutes of tag is not something I’m particularly proud of), flexibility of any kind really (I am mildly ashamed at the amount of work it takes to keep my back from hurting now that I’m in my 30’s), and honestly I’ve always wanted to do a handstand and have the core strength to hold it. If those things cause weight loss – okay. If they don’t – okay. Because, and I’m going to say it again, thin is not a goal. Thin is a way some people are and some people aren’t.

And I… I want to be me. All of me. Even if it’s the *biggest* me. Because right now I am the best me. The most realized me. The most whole me. The most healed me. The most genuine me I have ever been. And maybe it’s because that in this season, this is my way of learning that there is nothing inherently holy in being small, no matter what I was taught.

Oh how I longed to be small and quiet and docile, as a true holy woman should be. Instead I was quick witted, sharp tongued, inquisitive, and loud. I did not do as I was told, I needed things to make sense, I had things to talk about and wanted to be heard. I had interests. I had enthusiasm. I was not demure in any way, shape, or form.

Maybe, my body is just changing to look like my mind and be okay with taking up space. I’m not afraid of it anymore. I’m not afraid of being big and bold and loud and inquisitive and enthusiastic.

Because why the fuck not. Because why is taking up space a bad thing? Why is being squishy a negative? It’s not. It never was and it never will be. So I’mma go put on my bikini and wear it everywhere. Behold, world. Look at my pale ass perfection and be blinded by my white ass cellulite. Watch me jiggle as I chase my kids and behold the glory of my laugh lines. Swing my little batwings. Bounce my juicy booty. Shimmy and shake and clap those thighs with the movement inherent in a full and glorious life.

Leave It Un-Done

Today was a day. Today I had many thoughts that need to be written down. About how waiting for sex until I was married wasn’t what fucked up my brain, but the purity culture that fueled it. About how romcom love isn’t actually love and living life together while still enjoying each other while you have young kids and fuck tons of pressure on every side is the best thing ever. Literally. It is freedom. It is joy. It is looking at your person and knowing that there is nothing life can throw at you that you won’t make it through together. Because it’s not about what the journey looks like. It’s not even where it’s going (that vision will change many, many times). It’s about doing it together, and discovering yourself along the way. About how I once read about a “pious” woman who worried, constantly, about getting grilled about her time on earth once she was in heaven. And how it’s taken me years to begin deconstruction on this bullshit but today, while watching IG reels and laughing my ass off, I thought that if anyone on the other side of death had the *audacity* to ask me if I thought today was well spent I would respond with “Well fuck yes it was. Actually. Thanks. Had a great time. 9/10. Would recommend.” About how people in the middle of doing the work don’t get enough fucking credit for how difficult it is in the middle of it.

But it’s the end of the day. My babies need cuddles. My brain needs a break. My shoulders need to come down from my chin. And I just do not have the capacity to give any of those topics the attention they deserve.

So, instead, I’m going to do this. I’m going to talk to myself (and you). Just a quick little message. Here we go.

Everyone deserves rest. Even writers. Even moms. Even people who haven’t gotten out of bed because it was just too much today. Here is your permission to leave it un-done. To try again tomorrow. To celebrate how far you made it today, against all the odds. Play the game on your phone. Binge the show you have watched a million times. Let your brain shut off, take a deep breath, eat the donut, and love yourself.

What I’ve Gained

I have an amazon photos account that links to my tv as a screen saver. Usually, I thoroughly enjoy this feature as I get sweet surprises in the faces of our children growing up way too fast, looking at me from the past and reminding me my babies are still in there under the gangly legs and immense attitudes.

But today I had to go searching through the photos, trying to find one specifically. I scrolled through 3 years. And my mood slowly tanked during the process.

I used to be so beautiful. I had a jawline. And clavicles. My goddess, my clavicles. My body was full of elegant lines. And now. Now.

My jawline is not sharp. My clavicles are not pronounced. My lines are not elegant.

But.

My smile is more frequent. And genuine. My ass has filled out in a very pleasing manor. I am full. Full of food because I actually eat now. Full of love because I’m not busy hating myself. Full of deep thoughts.

Less full of tears.

More full of prozac.

You couldn’t pay me to go back. The times were wild. My brain was a primordial mess of trying to grapple with deconstructing my (once deeply held) religion, my partner was exploring polyamory and I was losing a battle to hormone shifts and undiagnosed depression and anxiety, we had two kids in diapers, and a total lack of friend network.

So to have a frank conversation with my brain, I want to remind myself of all that I’ve gained.

Yes. I have gained 20lbs. I have gained sanity. Confidence. Peace. I have found spirituality that is genuine, and not harmful to outcasts and minorities. I have found my people, and have friends that know me and see me and love me. And support me. I cannot say this enough, but friends who support your autonomy because they do not have an agenda for you and your life – essential. *makes mental note to make a separate post about that* I have found patience with myself, grace for the beauty that is the messiness of life, and room for all. of. me.

I have gained 20lbs and the courage to exist. Loudly. Boldly. Unapologetically. Whatever the word for “not demurely” is. And more. I can confidently parent my children. I have faith in my own worth and goodness and have thriving relationships. I do not have mental breakdowns multiple times a week. I have and maintain boundaries. I no longer people please myself into meltdowns. I laugh. Out loud. Often. I orgasm during sex. Also loudly.

I wake up achy and sore and feeling older than I am – but also immensely happy. Bad days are just bad days now, not the end of the world.

And now, as I look back, and see just how far I’ve come I am squeezing every squishy part of me and thanking it. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Every ounce of you is precious.

Maman

An explanation, followed by a thought: how I have to begin almost every conversation because *my brain*.

The explanation: So recently I rediscovered my love of all things Star Trek. Okay, not all things. My love for Shatner (and right here, I’m sorry George Takai, I think you are a phenomenal human being but hoooooly shit Sulu in TOS is creep af. Fight me.) and Pine as Kirk, and my enduring love for Capt. Jean-Luc Picard in all of his 1990’s glory. *Of note, it seems there is a glitch in my brain somehow related to Chris Pine. I can go literal years without crying, but put on one of the Star Trek reboots or god forbid WW84 and boom – waterworks.*

Hold up. Mama needs to google something. *sips cold brew with trepidation* Oh thank goddess. He is older than me. Praise. Life is as it should be. I’m not cougar-ing Hollywood hunks yet.

Anyway, now that I am an adult and decide how I spend about 30-45 minutes of each day not currently consumed by kids – I plan on watching my way through all of the Star Trek series, so I’m warning you now, there are going to be random thoughts about Star Trek for a whiiiiiile.

The thought: Last night I was watching TNG Season 1 Ep 5 and in it, Capt. Picard sees his long dead mother. Due to the fact that it was a 90’s drama set not only in the distant future and of course, outer space, the dialogue is not always the most natural. That being said, there was an exchange where his mother tells him, “But I’m always with you. You know that.”

He responds with, “Yes, I’ve felt that.”

And I’ve heard this more times than I can count in pop culture as well as personal references. The ones we love don’t really leave us. They are always with us.

And I find myself desperately hoping it isn’t true.

I love my kids more than the English language has absurdities. I love my children more than I could ever, EVER possibly hope to convey in pixelated words on a screen. It is too big. It is not physically possible. Love is an anomaly in the universe and my love for my children could consume the entirety of all matter and energy whole and still have room for more.

And yet, haunt their asses? Spend double my life span here on earth to send them the occasional butterfly?

The thought of my father, trapped by his love for me, forced to watch my life in minute detail without influence or comment makes me almost physically ill. (Not to mention mildly creeped out. I have a healthy sex life, I do not want to imagine a cosmic audience of even one. Especially not that one.)

No, fram, I don’t believe that’s how it works. I don’t think their love ever leaves us. My father’s love will never leave me because that was the only part of him that was mine. The rest of him was his.

And love… love is one of the great mysteries of the world. It is more than a feeling. More than a direct flow of oxytocin into the brain. More than a tender touch. More than the sleepless nights. More than the fear of a life without them. Love changes us. It changes us on the giving end as well as the receiving. It is transforming. Whether it’s the love of a parent or a partner or a friend, we are not the same.

So to believe that love stays when the person moves on… that makes sense. To believe that love compels them to remain in a strange half life while awaiting the death of their progeny? Perhaps their grandchildren? I’m not entirely sure at what point said ghost would decide they were no longer interested in haunting their descendants, not to mention the relative complications in haunting more than one generation as they multiply.

On top of it all, as a mother consumed by love with her children – I am more than their mother. I cannot say it any louder or any clearer. There is more to me than being a mom. I existed before them and continue to exist outside of them. It blows their little minds that I have an entire set of preferences, hobbies, humor, and relationships outside of them, but it’s true. I will have a full life when they no longer fill up 95% of my conscious moments. I will continue to create, think, laugh, and have immense amounts of meaning whether they are present or not.

I realize that watching through a window for the rest of my children’s lives would be but a blip on the vast landscape that is eternity. I also realize that the only thing I could do from that window was love them. And that I will love them, endlessly, eternally, consummately, whether I am watching them or not. And that even in eternity, especially in eternity, there will be more to do than watch.

Binary

It’s 10:47am.

I took the word “should” out of my vocabulary about 6 months ago, and fram, it’s a game changer. That being said, I had scheduled school for right now. (My kids are homeschooled, for clarity.) And clearly, not doing school. Writing. Writing for sanity. Writing for breath. Writing to avoid burnout because if I just push through it I think I might actually go insane.

Today did not start the best. I had to have stern words with an insurance adjuster, my partner was cranky this morning because he also had to deal with shitty car stuff, the depression is thick, the groceries do not magically make themselves into meals like they ought, the headache is real, and the allergies are brutal. Add in a 5 year old and a 7 year old who have the *audacity* to ask me to get them the switch before I have gotten halfway through my dirty Rasa because, “but I just woke up” and today feels completely undoable.

Days like today, balance doesn’t seem possible. I have no idea how I’m supposed to honor my body and my emotions and my brain being low on the good chemicals with the fact that life has to go on and my kids need to learn and completely disconnecting so I can go on a stress cleaning binge just isn’t optimal parenting.

And how do you reason with a brain attempting to sabotage you? If I consider writing today off and focusing on mental health and parenting my brain comes at me with “Didn’t we just have a weekend? What did you do then?” And like, fuck you, brain. We cleaned the house, did errands, grocery shopped, made 3 meals a day, and budgeted. Just because we didn’t do school does not make it a day off, ffs. And if I consider pushing through to at least get school done, my brain goes off in the other direction. “Well, that’s not a good thing to teach the kids, is it? Just ignore your mental health and push through, kids. Checking tasks off the list is what matters, not health.” Again, fuck you, brain.

Instead, of doing either of those things, because my immediate responses to all kinds of stress tend to be binary, I sat down and wrote. The kids went to play outside because even my brain cannot find a fault with delaying the start of school by an hour or so while the kids enjoy the very last of the decent weather before Texan summer comes in to roast their little bodies and force them indoors for months on end.

Take a deep breath. And as my fight or flight response calmed, I remembered that I don’t have to write the whole day off to honor my emotions. I can take a break. I can adjust. I have the time. And I don’t have to just ignore them either. I can adjust. Doing school after lunch is not going to waste the whole day. Taking a few minutes, even a few hours, to plan in order to soothe nerves, to cuddle to calm emotions and try – just try – to both honor and continue moving – is doable. Today might go completely off the rails, no matter how I adjust. It’s life. With kids. Completely off the rails happens more often than I would like. But it’s not the end of the world.

So I’m going to breathe, hydrate, make a few lists, and make some lunch. Then, I’m going to try again.

Shallow Breaths 2

Continuing from yesterday:

There are so many ways I could improve my parenting. Just. A literal mountain of ways. And know there will be apologies offered now, and later, for my kids pointing out some fucked up shit that I did. Like asking them, “whaaaaaaaaat in the ever living fuck is it now?!” on the 13th time I am interrupted while trying to do dishes while they scream at each other about whose pillow is better. Kids will be kids and they are constantly learning and hoooooly shit I need to be better about separating my sensory overwhelm from their typical kid shit.

But I’ll be damned if I’m gonna get called out twenty years from now because I wasn’t actively involving them in absolutely every single thing I did. Be it cooking, cleaning, gardening, writing, planning, grocery shopping, napping, praying, researching, etc to the never ending list that makes up a full ass human experience.

I’m going to take a shot of espresso here and just chalk it up to teaching my kids boundaries. There are times to help mama. There are times to play independently. There are times to listen and times to be loud. There are times mama needs *real* help and times she needs sticky fingered hugs. There are times she needs to be alone. And I hope that maybe, just maybe, in learning about boundaries with them, in trying and failing, I will raise humans who will not be afraid of saying “no” when unreasonable things are expected of them. (Like doing absolutely everything with mildly incompetent little elves who ask questions that are completely irrelevant 35824592745x a minute while you are attempting to show them how to life.) Whether it’s bosses or partners or friends or governments, the little ones will see that love and yes are not the same thing.

I’m going to say it louder for those in the back.

Love and Yes are not the same thing. Trust and yes are not the same thing. Loyalty and yes are not the same thing. In a world where more is constantly for sale, no is the answer.

I honestly think if I said “no” more, I wouldn’t necessarily get caught into sensory overwhelm and yell at my kids. I will continue to say no for my mental health. I will continue to say no as I learn how to truly love instead of enable. I will continue to apologize for when I say no in not healthy ways and perhaps at the wrong times. But I’m not going to apologize for saying no.

So, I’m going to finish my Rasa and tell my kids they can wait for mom to be ready, just this one day, and understand that having boundaries is absolutely necessary in loving myself. Cheers mamas.

A Eulogy for my Perfectionist Child Syndrome

*Pro tip: if you ever delude yourself into thinking you’re so far along in your healing journey that you’re running out of things to address say, out loud, to the Universe, “But what would I even talk to a therapist about?” And just wait. It’ll come. Like a goddamn dump truck.

*Based on a true story.

Today, in a partner meeting in which topics of budgeting and cost saving procedures were brought up, I felt my anxiety spike. SPIKE.

Was the blame placed at my feet? No. Was pressure to solve the issues put on me? Nope. Was anything brought up in any way that could be considered remotely accusatory? Also no. None of those things. And I have been begging and pleading for budging for…ever. For always. I am the cheap partner in a bougie triad. I should be joyous. Busting out the excel spreadsheet and entering data sets to my heart’s content.

Instead, I was forcing myself to breathe without hyperventilating. Why? I took the time to ask myself. Why am I feeling this way? This is what I wanted. Changes proposed would actually take things off my plate, reduce my stress, and pad the budget.

If you must know, the answer seems to be two fold. The first is due to Perfectionist Child Syndrome. This comes when your parents are so stressed (or other things, for my parents it was stress) that if your parents notice you, it’s because something has gone wrong. No attention means you are doing well enough to not break through their other stressors. Your teachers tell them how wonderful you are in class. You have straight A’s. When you’re at home you keep your head down, and eat what is given to you, and smile when you are looked at to reassure them that all is well.

If they bring something up, or want to talk, or need to show you something – it’s negative. Grades need to be better. Manners need to be minded. Rooms need to be cleaned. Something is not good enough.

So when *anything* I do, or have a hand in, is brought up to be changed in any way, my immediate reaction is “if this task/pattern/chore/emotion is getting noticed, then I have done it poorly” which brings intense anxiety.

A less than helpful problem solving response.

This brings us to the second part. Namely, my ability to blow shit way out of proportion based on irrational and crippling fear. Because if I am doing something poorly enough to be noticed, then what value do I bring to the relationship? And if I have no value, will they let me stay?

I am secure in my partners love, and so I thought that I was wholly secure. Turns out not. Turns out I have deep insecurities about my value. I know my partners love me. BUT. But if I keep the house clean, if I make elaborate meals for dinner, if I homeschool the children to excellence, if I single handedly maintain the budget, if – if – if – then they won’t leave me. Then they will decide I am worth keeping around.

And let’s not mince words: I am wholly dependent on them. I bring in not a single dollar to our bottom line. Oh, don’t bother quoting me the math. I am well aware. We would bleeeeeed money if I were to try and work outside the home. Childcare, increased car, food, and clothes cost. Increased stress for all parties. In no scenario do we gain money by having me work outside the home. If anything, it can be considered that for room and board, I am a 24/7 nanny, decent housekeeper, and quite a good chef while also being an errand runner, laundress, grocery shopper, personal assistant, teacher, and bookkeeper. Which, based on industry averages, is a HELL of a deal.

Yet. Despite all I bring to the relationships, I feel deeply inadequate. Like I have to earn my place in the home, a seat at the table, and the privilege to homeschool our children.

And to be extra-ordinarily clear: my partners say, if not daily then multiple times a week, that they see me, and what I do. They see the effort and the work that I pour out. That they value me and appreciate me. In no way have I *ever* been made to feel as if my place was precarious, my value dependent on my cleaning lady/chef/teacher output. This is something that I wholly put on myself because I have drank deeply of the poison of capitalism. I have gargled that stank until I reek of it. And I hate it. I can rail against it until I am blue in the face. That no one should be broken down into only what they can provide in monetary worth. That productivity is not the golden standard to what is or is not worth my time. That everyone has a place at the table, regardless of their ability to bring tangible gifts to it. And that emotional labor, child rearing, house work, and general life maintenance are valuable labor and deserve recognition and inherent worth. And turn around, look at myself in the mirror, and feel terror that I haven’t done enough today.

Maybe it’s because the fear of god (literally) was put in me as a child and I feared for my eternal soul if I didn’t do enough to prove my faith to a god who watched me all the time to judge my every thought.

Maybe it’s because we live in a society that literally drowns us in messaging that the most essential labor (and therefore laborers) are replaceable and therefore not worth living pay, basic human consideration, or any kind of meaningful recognition. Let alone dignity, honor, and contentment.

Maybe it’s because only women are ever asked if they will choose children or careers while it is an assumption that men can have both, because their partner will shoulder the extra burden – for free.

Probably it’s all of that and an (un)healthy dose of trauma passed down by ancestors and a (not) fun glitch in my brain that requires a daily dose of prozac.

What matters is that I name it. And then strike a match and, much like capitalism, the patriarchy,  and the idea that America is a Christian nation, not stop rooting it out and burning it down until there is no trace left.

What matters is that it stops with me. And my kids do not toss at night wondering if they did enough to earn their place in this world, or their home. As if a place in a home is something to be earned. As if love is a currency to be traded on.

What matters is that I tell myself a truer story – that I am worthy. Of love. Of a home. Of safety and security. And then I tell everyone that truer story.

So here it is, this is the match struck: I am safe. I am worthy. My value is not dependent on my output. Period. I’d say may my perfectionist child syndrome and irrational fears rest in peace but fuck that. Fuck that hard. Let’s burn those bad boys to a crisp and then piss on the ashes. Let’s dance naked around the grave, shoot silver bullets into casket, and let out a string of curses that would make my racist grandmother blush and my gypsy ancestors proud. Let’s show them a full moon full of glorious cellulite as we twirl, sexually satisfied and shameless about our jiggle, while swearing oaths that those who come after us will never see the fears we conquered.

Let’s just… live.