For some reason, when I look in the mirror lately, it doesn't look as bad. A few weeks back I looked and saw actual ugly. I've never seen myself as ugly ever before, even all swollen up with a triplet pregnancy or sick from giving birth. I saw ugly, and it surprised me.
I saw a huge belly, saggy boobs, fat on my thighs where there had previously been none, stretch marks, brown spots all over my face and a tired, haggard looking woman. I'm sure you can't imagine why. But I didn't just look tired. I looked horrible to me. My nose was too big for my face, my eyes were just blah, my lips shrinking from their previously young and plump state and, of course, the bags and wrinkles. It just all looked bad.
Last week I made a decision. The only way this body was going to get better was if I just accepted it. Counterintuitive I know, but true. Fighting myself, beating myself up when I ate cookies to survive, starving myself (if I ever could), none of that was going to make me thin. It was time to accept I have a mom's body. I have an apple shape. This is what I look like. Sure, I'll wear Spanx and good bras and makeup, but day to day, this is it girl. Get over it.
And you know I didn't even really do much else besides have that thought. A couple of times I looked in the mirror and decided my belly didn't stick out that much. A couple of times I caught my silhouette in a store window and I looked like a normal person, fat around the middle and all. And last week my date night dress seemed to really disguise my stomach from the front at least. So I went out on a date feeling like I might look ok.
So the face looks good on good days. Certainly a smile helps. Good sleep makes the face look better too, and I've been eating better, so maybe the skin is happier, who knows. I still have brown spots all over, and bags, and the wrinkles didn't go anywhere but perhaps I'm looking a little less harshly. And today after getting ready for date night I thought, ok then, that's not so bad.
This is fantastic. I will take not so bad over ugly any day. Because a woman who walks around thinking she's ugly probably is to the rest of the world. She's not likely to be smiling. She's not glowing or shining or radiating or anything positive. So we're getting there. Perhaps people who see me now think I'm average, or think nothing of me, but I won't be ending up on the People of Walmart blog, thank god. And that's all a girl can ask for sometimes.
Grandparents day. A made up holiday, sure, but there it was. Mom asked that I bring the kids to her assisted living facility so her friends could see them in person. I had no excuse not to. Truthfully, it turned out alright anyway. I thought the kids would cower behind my legs and not smile at anyone but instead they decided the activity room chairs were fun to climb on and chased each other around the room. Having the fat one along (R is now 27 lbs at less than 7 months of age) helped. He sat and provided the smiles and personality while the triplets burned off steam running people in walkers down.
But here's the thing, I heard it again. That refrain I have heard time and again and sort of sat in disbelief about for so long. The phrase "we just love your mother here, she's so great."
My mom? Enjoyable company? Loved? Easy to get along with? Um. Huh?
I don't mean to be mean, but I grew up with this person. I personally witnessed her getting enraged at cashiers at the grocery store when the computer had the wrong price for her item, accusing them of personally trying to cheat her, (thanks to growing up in Russia where they might just have been.) I personally have felt the impact of a poorly chosen tease of the woman with no ability to laugh at herself. I have doused the flames of her anger over slights that no one might have imagined they committed.
Where is this person I knew? Who is this person they know? Which one is the real her? Because I'm aware that my parents never saw the way I was to everyone else, I know we are all different with family than with others but I don't see how the ugly never shows through to her 'friends.' I guess she has a winning personality in there somewhere, and I'd love to be a fly on the wall to see how it appears. I'd love to find a way to think my mom's 'great' or find a way to love some part of her personality. I admire her will to survive that she used to have, I respect that she has every right to be as crazy as she is due to the circumstances of her upbringing, but like or love her personally? No. We would not be friends if we met on the street.
So I will remain clueless to this part of her. This person people want to spend time with. This person who already has a man wanting her company to restaurants and even the opera after moving in only a half a year ago. This woman who people 'love' and find endearing. And I will always wish I could see it too.
I have this fantastic daughter, you see, who is a hell cat. Or is that hellcat? Tonight, when she didn't want to get out of the bathtub I gave her a choice: get out yourself or I will get you out.
That seemed fair, no? At least I gave her a choice.
I counted down from 5, which is what I do, and she still refused to exit the tub, even though it was empty of all water and she must have been getting cold. So I reached in and grabbed her skinny, wet self.
That child knows how to throw every limb in two directions at once while simultaneously becoming limp like some passive protester at a peace rally. Being covered in a slightly soapy water film did not help. I threw a towel on her to get some traction and held her around the waist while she flailed. I don't actually know what to do in this circumstance. Letting go seems like she wins. Holding her down seems wrong too though. And this girl was mad.
Everyone else exited the bathroom and I let her go. She retreated to the wall, her side to me, just like a feral cat. And I tried to control myself. I really did. But I had to laugh. With respect! This daughter of mine isn't going to take crap from anyone. She is stronger than I ever was already. She is also a little wild, and I love that.
Now I have dealt with insane cats at the vet where I used to work. It took at least two vet techs sometimes to hold a cat still for a simple physical exam. I have dealt with feral cats in my cat rescue. Catching them was a game of the mind. You had to use surprise and outwit them so you could grab the scruff before they had a chance to defend themselves. I was not scared of them, but I respected them. If you stopped respecting them you got hurt. I am scared of her though.
Not really scared of her, just scared of doing the wrong thing. I'm not some lay down parent who gets walked all over, but I do respect anger. Emotions of any sort. And my daughter's anger? I recognize it. It is me. If I could have fought like a hellcat when I was a kid I would have. But it would have done no good in a family with people who didn't even see me. I screamed and screamed and no one noticed. And for certain no one ever thought to ask me why I was so angry.
So I asked her why she was mad. Tell mommy what you are so mad about. And do you know what she did? She walked back over to me, laid down and submitted for the diaper and pjs.
Just because I respected her. And stopped to ask her why she was mad.
I've spent weeks now, even months, not posting because I don't want to bore you with my whining. I don't want what used to be and was supposed to be a funny blog to become my place to bitch and moan. Well screw that. Don't read it if I make you miserable. Because the truth is I'm never going to get past this miserable if I don't write about it and the other truth is that usually even my miserable blogs have some funny bits. I can't seem to find the funny if I don't write about it. So here's to trying again to blog regularly and hopefully you all can bear with me while I work through this particularly tough time I'm going through. Just to recap:
1. My cat is dying of a yet unknown form of cancer
2. My crazy mom is still my problem and seems to be hitting the crazy stride again. It is fall after all and all of her suicide attempts have been between September and January of any given year.
3. My stupid house won't sell so I'm stuck in a teensy tinsy apartment with too many children and neighbors who apparently don't know how to close a door without slamming it and any number of noisy delivery trucks right during nap time.
4. I have too many children. Or rather, when they're all sick and whiny or not getting the aforementioned naps, I have too many whiny, snotty, pushing, shoving, hitting, hair pulling, drooling, crying and generally crabby children under the age of 3.
5. I can't potty train said children because I am in someone else's house with someone else's furniture and rugs. I'm quite sure they don't want my children having accidents on their rugs. Therefore I (or someone helping me) change an average of 20+ diapers a day, a lot of them containing poop.
6. I am fat because when said children are misbehaving, not sleeping or disobeying me I choose to keep from slapping them by stuffing my face.
7. I can't cook nice meals for myself or my children because the kitchen is directly across the hall from their bedrooms and any noise, no matter how small, transmits immediately into their sleeping ears and awakens them. Even the rustling of a plastic bag. Over the sound of a white noise machine. Even in the dead of REM sleep. And if I cook when they're awake they will dismember the couch stick by stick, nail by nail, while I'm not watching. They are that good.
8. I can't get a nap because the timing of infant naps and toddler naps shall forever remain vastly different. And the infant will only sleep 35 minutes at a time so by the time I fall asleep it's time to put him back to sleep. And drugging him is only justifiable when he has a runny nose. And that only really extends the nap to 45 minutes.
9. I am in an un-airconditioned apartment in an area that apparently reaches the 90s regularly. And thanks to global warming, reached 105 last week. Ever tried to make a toddler go to sleep when they're sweating gallons per minute out of every pore of their body? Not successful.
10. All of my life's possessions are in storage. Because I was only staying here a couple of months. So I packed for a vacation. And I'm serving a life sentence apparently.
Life is just hard on a funny girl sometimes. You get problem after problem piling on you until you just can't see the humor any more. Today, one more thing: one of my cats has cancer. The one who's been with me for 15 years and drives me crazy regularly with her neediness so much so that I spend most of the day saying 'no piglet' 'leave me alone piglet' 'get off of me piglet' and so on. So much so that now I feel like a terrible mother for a new and exciting reason. I'm now going to be nice to her only because she's dying. I have not had the time she desires for years. I have not petted her enough, snuggled with her enough nor played with her enough for years. And the triplet excuse just isn't good enough.
I have never understood people who treat their pets as second class citizens. My cats are as important as my kids to me. However, when push comes to shove, the humans do win every time don't they? Obviously I adopted her long before I ever thought about having kids but doesn't that mean she should come first? She was here first. I committed to her first. She's just as helpless as my kids and just as dependent upon me.
I can't personally justify treating my cats differently. In a way I'm more responsible for them because I, alone, adopted them. They have no grandparents who could care for them and they can never speak for themselves no matter how old they get. They can't even throw tantrums (although they can do a hell of a job keeping you from holding on to them.) I am responsible for them in a way that is pretty much the same as to my kids. But when I neglect her emotionally, no one comes to take her away from me. She just suffers through it.
So I guess I get a chance now to spend some time with her, I don't know how long yet as they have not diagnosed the type of cancer she has, but some time. Only here I sit with 4 kids, a crazy mom, in a terribly small apartment with a house that wont sell with barely time to shop for groceries much less find a new house to live in, pay bills, take my 4 sick kids to the doctor and wipe my own butt after pooping, should I be lucky to have 5 minutes on the toilet to even accomplish that.
I guess I will just keep on putting one foot in front of the other.