Have you seen this? The Mom Stays in the Picture
It's gone viral and the sentiment is a beautiful one: Moms, hand the camera to your spouse, your friend…a complete stranger and join that photo with your little one. Your hair/weight/nose (insert any other physical neurosis) is fine. Be with your son/daughter. Stop being the invisible hand that's raising them. I read this and the very next morning asked Matt to take a photo of me breastfeeding Annie. I had just gotten out of the shower - hair still wet, no make-up - and the photo is nothing special. Our bedroom is messy (as it always is), and the angle, and the lighting, or any of it, isn't particularly touching. But now (two weeks later), only in retrospect, did I realize that that morning was the last time Annie breastfed. I knew it was any day and the next morning - a Monday - we were rushing out the door so I asked Matt is give her a bottle. And the same thing happened on Tuesday, and then Wednesday through Friday. I am not a crunchy, earth mama, and I never thought breastfeeding took me to a higher plane or any of that self-righteous hooey, but…with all sweet things that end, there is touch of sadness. A little emptiness in our rituals. I loved breastfeeding, and now our little girl is growing up.
This essay also made me think long and hard about the heaviness of raising a daughter: about body image, about acceptance, about lambasting against everything pop culture implores you to pluck and tuck. Like many women, I've walked a curvy road toward acceptance of how I look, particularly when it comes to weight. Many times I'm fine with how I look, and then a see a recent photograph. And I sit there and think, dear god, is this how I look? I've married a man who tells me I'm beautiful almost every single day, and on most days I brush it off. What a thankless job Matt has. Having a baby has shed me of many of my insecurities. Also turning 30. I'm so very happy to be in my thirties. Mainly, I know myself better and I've liked what I've built.
Take last week for example: I turned down a job offer. This is not something I do often. Lordy, I am NOT the girl who has job offers. It was closer to home. It was more responsibility. It came with an office (that's huge, right there, as my career trajectory - as of now - is strikingly lateral). It was more money. But...there was a "but". It never felt right and I had the nagging suspicion I'd be stressed out. Turning that down was the most adult thing I have ever done. Realizing I don't have to always clamor for the next best thing, and I don't have to define success on anyone else's timeline. Right now I need to be treading water right here. It doesn't mean I don't want to make a move. Maybe something else will come along. Perhaps not. We'll make do. Coming home to Annie solidified that decision for me. Which takes us back to the whole thing of having a little girl, and the baggage that accompanies being female in our society.
I always told myself I would never let Annie see me frowning in a mirror, or muttering, "God, I look awful in this." None of that would touch her in our house. None of that would be a part of our lexicon, because lord knows, she'll get enough of that at school, on television, and everywhere else.
I picked up More magazine before boarding a work flight two weeks ago to Michigan. I know, I know: the magazine for women "of a certain age". Ha. My friend Danita - who has impeccable taste - said it's really not all that bad and she enjoyed it, so there I was, devouring it (another thing about being in my thirties - Glamour is way too young for me now). More is composed of essay after essay and the magazine - for being a glossy one - has meat. One of the essays that made me stare out that plane window long and hard was about a mom, who, ruminating on this very thing - having a daughter and the navigating the aches and pains of acceptance - decided it wasn't a black and white issue, and she would let her daughter see that. She'd sit her daughter down and say she has good days, she has bad ones, and many days are in between, and you may not always feel beautiful, but you are. And I held onto that message: the authenticity of it, and the acknowledgement that this is a much deeper issue that a Dove "Love your body" campaign can deliver.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this, other than like any other parent, I want so very much for Annie. I'm finishing this post on her 11-month birthday, and as she rounds the corner to one, nothing seems impossible as I breathe her in and watch her beginning to navigate the crooks and corners or our home. She scoots around the house exploring drawers and dust bunnies, shoes and books. If only it could always be this simple.
Below are some photos from a morning at the pumpkin patch last week. Can a baby be obstinate and stubborn? Because this child refused to smile the entire morning and let us know - very openly - she was not a fan of pickin' pumpkins. (Nevermind she was all giggles later when we went out for lunch.) I tell ya!
|Annie is willful and doesn't shy away from sharing her opinion...we see this face a lot! (And I love it.)|
|A very kind guy took about 10 family portraits. Sadly, this was the best one.|