my tragic right hip

Busting out bad joints all over the place

November 20th, 2012

This Mom Hates The Picture

My friend Mia alerted me to this lovely article, The Mom Stays in the Picture, by Allison Tate. I have been thinking about the article now for weeks–even with social media, mom blogs, Facebook, and the many myriad ways of promoting ourselves these days, the central thought, that the majority of ‘mom’ work (and by extension in our house, stay-at-home RRD [rock ‘n’ roll dad] work) goes undocumented and unseen was poignant and gave me pause. There was another viral tidbit that floated passed around the same time, that a SAHM’s salary would reach upwards of $100k, and that also made me think, but I digress. Tate’s writing was so poignant, and this passage in particular resonated with me:

I avoid photographic evidence of my existence these days. To be honest, I avoid even mirrors. When I see myself in pictures, it makes me wince. I know I am far from alone; I know that many of my friends also avoid the camera.

It seems logical. We’re sporting mama bodies and we’re not as young as we used to be. We don’t always have time to blow dry our hair, apply make-up, perhaps even bathe (ducking). The kids are so much cuter than we are; better to just take their pictures, we think.

But we really need to make an effort to get in the picture. Our sons need to see how young and beautiful and human their mamas were. Our daughters need to see us vulnerable and open and just being ourselves — women, mamas, people living lives. Avoiding the camera because we don’t like to see our own pictures? How can that be okay?

Now, I’m going to digress even further. I’m avoiding mirrors, tight clothing, pictures from the neck down, scales, change rooms, bathing suits, clothes shopping, bare legs, and anything else that might uncover me in any meaningful way. Two years post-partum and I’m still bogged down by baby weight, and when you add in all of the medication for the disease, then the complications because of said medication, and then dose that down with my age, I don’t want photographic evidence of my complete and utter failure to keep it together. My fat pants are tight. My fattest pants are tight.

These are my confessions.

I made a pact with myself to write it all down here with the hope that I might now be able to do something about it. Except, I’ve been saying that for weeks and months and I still can’t seem to find it in me to take a better step. A different step.

Here are the excuses: I’m exhausted. Beyond tired. In fact, I got to tired about a year ago, decided that wasn’t far enough down the rabbit hole, moved in beside exhausted, then travelled beyond there to shattered, and have taken up residence in battyland–and have resided there ever since. Some of it is having a two-year-old. Some of it is my natural inclination not to sleep. Some of it is disease. And some of it is stress. But when you combine it all, what comes up is how ridiculously broken apart my poor body is these days. As I said to a friend over email the other day, I’m so unhealthy I don’t even know how or where to start. She asked what the one thing I would do if I could manage just five minutes a day, and I replied “exercise.” But even then I failed.

It’s easy just to take it easy. Yes. It is. It’s so much easier to collapse on the couch after getting up unfathomably early, racing to get out the door, racing through the day, eating poorly, racing home, racing to put the RRBB to bed, racing to get dinner (RRHB does this most nights as I am putting RRBB to bed), racing to get organized, and then your brain is mushy and all you can do is sit on the couch and play SpellTower before crashing, glasses still on your face, into the couch dead asleep at 930 PM at night.

The disease has ruined me. No, that’s not true, the disease + pregnancy + scary flare + medicine + treatment has ruined me. My kidneys are not producing enough red blood cells any longer and so I am permanently anemic. The really powerful medicine has put into permanent menopause. I’ve never admitted that out loud. I’m ashamed and embarrassed by it in a sense–not that I was particularly attached to having a period, but that my body is now definably old. There are symptoms and side effects and cause and effects, and more and more and more when it comes to the disease, even when it’s in remission. At the moment I’m taking imuran, prednisone, atacand (for my kidneys), HRT (for the menopause), and calcium + vitamin D for my bones, hemoplex to help my blood, moducare to balance me out (when I remember), and it’s a lot of freaking medicine. I’m burned out on getting better.

I’m out of shape and unmotivated. And the irony of it all is how physically demanding motherhood is–you’re up and down, lugging a 30 lb toddler, plus bags, plus gear, plus, plus, plus, and in and out of car seats and strollers and chasing him down the street and following his whimsy, and then you feel guilty on a Sunday afternoon for turning on a movie because between working full-time and squeezing in everything you have to get done in a day, let alone getting caught up on the weekend with the shopping and the household and the family and the visiting and the this and that, and I am a zombie, except when I’m not.

And I can’t listen to the crap that says I have to put myself first and blah de blah because it doesn’t work that way when you have a kid. Because I can’t not pick him up or cart him around or love him desperately–and I am frustrated to no end that what has made me ever-so happy has also ruined me completely. There’s irony there. It’s a miracle I’ve survived. It’s a miracle that he’s even here. So I should just suck it up, right? But I’m even tired of sucking it up and sucking it in, I’m just plain tired of it all.

This is all coming across as so whiny. And perhaps it’s because I’ve been up since 320AM, and because RRBB woke up at 450 AM and wouldn’t go back to sleep–but I wanted just to get it all out, how completely broken I am, how bits and pieces of me have disappeared, literally from the very scary, very angry disease over the last two years. This isn’t new–what is new, for me, is how hard it’s been for me to bounce back. Yes, I’m looking for ways to start. Yes, I’m looking for ways to be accountable. Yes, I’m looking for ways to change. I know it will be hard. But as I’ve said many times before, I didn’t know it would all be this hard to keep it all together.

These are my confessions. I don’t feel like this all the time. But I do feel like it today. Which is why I’ve taken that truly miserable photo of myself. But at least there’s a photo. What step will I take tomorrow?

3 Responses to “This Mom Hates The Picture”

  • Zesty says:

    You know, it’s funny for me to read these blogs sometimes and how you are seeing yourself and how you are feeling. I don’t see you this way at all. You are wonder woman to me.

  • Mike's Mom says:

    What step will I take tomorrow? The next one forward, of course. That’s all that’s necessary. I’m sorry you feel this way; I can’t even imagine. My wish for you is peace and acceptance. If “Zesty” sees you as wonder woman, I’m sure she’s (he’s?) not alone.

  • Clare says:

    Sending a virtual hug. The early years are hard and you have more than your share of complications. Hang in there and may tomorrow be a better day.

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Girl with titanium hip will rock. Girl with titanium hip will write. Girl with titanium hip will read. Girl with titanium hip will battle crazy-ass disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis. Now stuff that in your spelling bee!

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