Recovery, the road is long…

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The thing about the eating disordered is we are crafty, tricky and resourceful. We can be charming and say the right things- gaining just the right amount of weight for us to be believed and released. Time and again. Catch and release. Catch and release.

My high over my measurements faded fast as I was in a therapy group with the only other ED patient, an eating disorder rock star- an anorexic. She could fly away I thought. EZT wasn’t helping her, her hair shorn short, she  folded in every chair and I stared with envy. She was pure, strong. I was not. I was weak. I was a slave to bulimia. She transcended while I was pulled under. I sat engrossed as she hid her hands in long sweatshirt sleeves and cried numb tears in group. I’ve often wondered whether she recovered or like so many of us, she floated away. She was there before me and I left her there, when I charmed my way out.

My boyfriend came to fetch me and we jokingly acted like we had busted me out, an escape and when we burst into my apartment my roommates laughed and laughed. I was welcomed back to school with open arms. No better, but everyone was placated.

It was another year and a half before I really got help. My mother had found a doctor  near where she lived and he was making great strides in curing eating disorders. There was another emergency room trip, another ‘heart incident’ and then finally my boyfriend packed me up again and we drove from Pasadena to Colorado where I was delivered into the arms of Dr. W who after a complete physical and interview declared that in 2 years I would either be recovered or I would be dead. Those were the only options and it was entirely up to me.

I am not sure where after over 10 years of constantly trying to destroy myself this sense of self preservation roared awake but it did. So we began the long and terrifying journey back to health. I resisted drugs for a long time, Dr W. was not the first to suggest them- but I had always resisted.  I didn’t want my personality to change (lovely though it was, I am sure) he patiently explained exactly what they did and why and with that I acquiesced and agreed to it. Prozac in extremely high doses can cause not just appetite loss but the utter destruction of the interest in eating at all and so it was prescribed to me, and many other bulimics to curb the binge urge. I will state right here that I would never have been able to conquer this without the assistance of drug therapy. Once we had that under control the next thing was to teach my body to process foods again. This was a slow start. I drank ensure. The moment a drop of it hit my stomach lining I felt myself grow larger, fatter, worse. Sometimes it would come right back up, my body unable to keep anything down now. But eventually I learned to count and breathe until the panic subsided and the nutrients were absorbed. I was not allowed a scale, I was not allowed form fitting clothes but I knew I was gaining. At the same time once my brain had some nourishment I felt…better? Stronger? Hopeful?

Every day was a struggle. Those first few months and everything was a victory. My body had not processed food from the begginning to the end in years. It had to relearn what we are born knowing. Food digestion, absorption and elimination were all victories.

And yet it was bittersweet. My eating disorder had been my constant companion for years, a sort of invisible parrot sitting on my shoulder guiding me through everything. How could I live without it? I missed it. Terribly.

Eventually I ate actual food. Eventually I stopped panicking the moment it slid down my now not bloody throat. Eventually I stopped even thinking about it. Eventually after a long time I was declared ‘cured’.

I relapsed. Of course, we almost always do. Instead of shaming me my doctor said the most empowering thing and now I share it with you. He said before you couldn’t go 30 minutes without it. Now you’ve gone two months, three months, a year. You know you can do it. So you did it once, that doesn’t mean you do it again. Next time it will be two years before you maybe relapse. Maybe three, four or never. Think of your victories, you’ve won the war…this was a tiny skirmish. 

He was right. I’ve been cured for many years now and I haven’t relapsed. I can look at myself in the mirror and know I don’t see myself accurately. I can accept that and move on. I have had two healthy pregnancies with severe morning sickness and and am in the middle of my third vomiting almost non-stop for the first four months…and yet I don’t relapse. I am able to accept my body growing and changing and yes, getting bigger and yet not go back.

I will never go back.

I may still have some disordered thinking, don’t we all, but I am stronger than those thoughts.

If you or someone you love is struggling please contact NEDA  to find a good doctor or therapy program. This is the toughest war you’ll ever fight, but I promise you it’s worth it.

 

Read the rest in this series; part one  part two and part three.

Thinner Still..

photo by Jenna Connell

photo by Jenna Connell

I remained undetected for years. Or rather I thought I did. I’m sure many people knew but did nothing and that’s fine, it’s not their job and honestly we were just trying to navigate our teens and twenties as best we could. No one confronted me and the one time I spoke out, asking for help  it went unanswered. I just think no one knew what to do at that time.

Teachers pulled me aside to ask if I needed help or money because I was so thin they wanted to make sure I had enough to eat. I took their money and ate and threw up. Yet another mark in the I was a horrible person column I thought. I added ‘cheaper’ to my prayers at night still asking for anorexia to be blessed upon me.

I was being fitted for a costume at school, the costumer measured everything as he was going to build my costume. Shoulder to shoulder, shoulder to hip, shoulder to elbow, waist, head for a hat.

He paused and measure waist and head again. Then again. Stephanie, your waist in smaller than your head! You’re too thin! All I heard was my waist was smaller than my head. Over and over like it was the best compliment  I had ever gotten. Like I’d won the gold medal in thin. Shortly thereafter I was called into the head of the school’s office. I was informed that they thought I had a problem and needed help. Help! My waist was smaller than my head! I needed no help! Despite the fact that earlier in the year an ambulance had to be called to take me to the hospital as I passed out in the snack room, a small ‘heart incident’ that I passed off as food poisoning, it was the measurements of my body that both thrilled me-spurring me further but also betraying me and giving me away. My protestations about exams and end of year activities fell on deaf ears. Go to the hospital or don’t come back to school.

My boyfriend at the time drove me. Weeks earlier he had happened to show up at my apartment mid binge. I cried and begged and he left so I could throw up. I can’t imagine what that was like for him to catch me, stomach distended and red, eyes wild and so very, very desperate. He came and quietly collected me and dove me to the Pasadena hospital with a Spanish name and beautiful architecture to match. It had no dedicated ED program, it was too soon for that, and so I was to be in the middle of many different kinds of illness.

He wanted to stay with me, go with me all the way to my room but of course they wouldn’t let him. I got one phone call a day and I promised to call him. I sat in a cold small room with a secretary who asked a million hard questions and stared at the words stamped in red at the top of my chart. BULIMIC MUST BE WATCHED AT ALL TIMES. I felt the panic rising, my mind reeling, being watched meant I had no control- none. Could I still leave? I wanted to scream that I changed my mind. But I sat paralyzed and stuck to that chair answering each question like a robot.

After the intake interview came the physical. The cot was cold and hard and a nurse who placed cold stethoscope on my chest then took my blood pressure. Low. I placed my hand on my stomach and felt the comforting thump of my pulse there. The deep gully between my hipbones emphasized by the bridge my jean waistband made reassured me. “you’re so cute!” the nurse said. “I love your belly button ring. You’re so tiny” she said “you’ll have to tell me your secret!”

I was 82 pounds and my chart said BULIMIC. I smiled, because I knew then I could outsmart them.

 

More tomorrow. Thank you for reading and again, if you suffer or know anyone who needs help please contact NEDA you can beat this and you can, and will have a life.

Read the rest in this series; part one  part two and the conclusion.

And Thinner

 

Even now, cured, I still pick photos that make me look thin. It's the angle of the camera, but my legs look thin. Eating Disorders always leave residuals that stay with us always.

Even now cured, I still pick photos that make me look thin. It’s the angle of the camera, but my legs look thin. Eating Disorders leave residuals that stay with us always.

The pressure behind my eyes was so intense I truly thought they might explode. My stomach flexed and emptied the last of it’s contents. I was fourteen. It was the first time I had made myself vomit.

I switched from a private school to public at the beginning of fifth grade and quickly felt the disapproving stares of the more worldly girls. My lunchroom plate of the given portions was suddenly a glutton’s feast and I more often than not tossed all of it in the trash. I existed on grapes and diet soda. I’d eat at home where no one could see, I thought.

Junior High was worse. A minefield of girl cruelty. Curled up in the library I devoured a book about a young girl, a ballet dancer like I was, who had anorexia. I wanted to be her and I was failing miserably. At 14 my ballet career was at best pathetic. I took the bus faithfully to Boulder Ballet Ensemble three times a week and danced to the tinny piano sounds that Tom’s Tavern below drove out with loud CCR on the jukebox. I had a crooked spine and very little drive and determination. I spent my time in class daydreaming about the stage rather than really working to make it happen.

That same lack of drive and determination made me a failure at anorexia as well. Sooner rather than later I would fail, overwhelmed by the desire to eat and I would inhale a pizza. “look at her go!” parents would say and my face would flush with shame. So it was in that same book with the beautiful anorexic dancer I desperately wanted to be there happened to be a bulimic girl. An electric shock flooded my body. I could get rid of it! All of it!

The feeling of fat and shame was quickly replaced with a high of ridding myself of all that punishment. But like all highs the time between needing to experience them gets closer and closer and closer until you lose quality of life and  in many cases- nearly my case,  life.

At 17 I lounged in a borrowed room, my mother having moved to San Francisco for a job,  watching Oprah and splurging on Yoplait lemon yogurt and 5 saltines. I wouldn’t keep them, but it was still a splurge. I distantly heard a girl on the set tell Oprah she had been busted because of the tell tale bruises on her hand. Those of her two front teeth being repeatedly pushed into them as she forced the food up and out. I looked down. There they were, two bruises. I’d never thought about them, but there they were two purple tooth marks with aging bruises circling them never given a proper chance to heal. I heard her say that was when I started using the handle of my toothbrush. Oprah’s voice distantly echoed now I don’t want anyone thinking that’s a good idea!

I was already in the bathroom. That was when I learned there were tricks to bulimia, tricks of the trade.

Later my rituals were so streamlined I needed nothing. I could simply lean over and let go. I may have failed at anorexia,(Still I prayed every night God would gift me with it and take away bulimia) but I was a damn good bulimic.

More tomorrow.

Read the rest in this series; part one  part three and the conclusion.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder please contact NationalEatingDisorders.org you’re not alone. Know that you can beat this and you can and will have a life.

 

Thinner.

 

photo by Kevin McIntyre

photo by Kevin McIntyre

I don’t usually participate in the National Whatever Weeks…mostly because as a really troubled kid I sort of collected these things. You have one,  you have a few. National Daddy Issues Week. National Sexual Assault Awareness Week. National Too Pale To Go To The Beach week.  But I’m pregnant with a daughter. A  girl and honestly I am a little terrified about doing right by her. This has made me think, really think about how I turned everything inward, how everything became about fat and shame and how I almost died from the disease. Nothing else killed me. Not cutting, not putting myself in dangerous situations, none of it. The only thing that almost did me in is the mental illness with the highest mortality rate. Eating Disorders.  It’s Eating Disorder Awareness and week and I feel like we’re all pretty damn aware. But what I ponder is how to prevent…it wasn’t just pretty skinny models that I knew I could never be. It wasn’t just my mother’s incessant dieting, always striving to lose those last ten pounds and be happy. It wasn’t just one thing…and it certainly wasn’t one obvious thing. How did I make the connection between being thin and being worthy? How did every bump or bubble of flesh become bad, become shame?

I was a skinny kid. I was a skinny preteen. It was only in the throngs of the bulimic cycles that I was ever ‘fat’ which was really more puffy and swollen. I vow to never say I am ‘fat’ around my children, even if I am. I vow to never put myself down or complain about my looks although I certainly still feel as I have many complaints. But even that, even that isn’t enough. How do we guard our girls and boys from trying to disappear? I remember being in college and seeing Tennessee Williams one act Talk To Me Like The Rain And Let Me Listen. It was a profound experience for me.

I’ll run my hands down my body and feel how amazingly light and thin I have grown. Oh, my, how thin I will be. Almost transparent. Not hardly real any more. Then I will realize, I will know, sort of dimly, that I have been staying on here in this little hotel, without any — social connections, responsibilities, anxieties or disturbances of any kind — for just about fifty years. Half a century. Practically a lifetime. I won’t even remember the names of the people I knew before I came here nor how it feels to be someone waiting for someone that — may not come … Then I will know — looking in the mirror — the first time has come for me to walk out alone once more on the esplanade with the strong wind beating on me, the white clean wind that blows from the edge of the world, from even further than that, from the cool outer edges of space, from even beyond whatever there is beyond the edges of space …Then I’ll go out and walk on the esplanade. I’ll walk alone and be blown thinner and thinner.And thinner and thinner and thinner and thinner and thinner!— Till finally I won’t have any body at all, and the wind picks me up in its cool white arms forever, and takes me away!

Yes. Exactly. And even now, even ‘cured’ from my ED for ten plus years I still read that and think yes, exactly. I still want to be thinner and thinner and thinner until I am paper thin and will just blow away.

I don’t. I know it’s unhealthy. I do not participate in eating disordered behaviors. I do not starve myself or vomit. I do not. I don’t even feel the desire to do so…but to be so thin. So free. So pure. That I still want.

It’s National Eating Disorders Week and I am aware. I’m just unsure what to do with that awareness.

Read the rest in this series: part two part three and the conclusion.

THIS is the book that was the closest to my ED experience. It’s an incredible raw look at life with and eating disorder. If you suffered or you know someone who is and you want to understand, a little, what it’s like this is a great and difficult read.

Do you have the fever for the flavor of House of Cards?

photo credit wikipedia

My husband has been out of town. Since Thursday. He gets home tonight and I can’t wait. It’s been so long. Ever so long. Just me and the kids and animated shows with catchy songs. I can’t wait for him to walk in that door….and watch some damn House of Cards with me.

It’s his own fault really. He was like some pusher, rolling up my sleeve and gently telling me it only pinches for a moment and then the high is so good, so smooth, and so very evil. Just like that I was addicted. When previously I would pass out around 9 pm after getting the kids to bed now I was sneaking down stairs for  secret rendezvous with Frank Underwood. And my husband of course. Just one I would say and my pusher would smile and nod knowingly…and hit play on the old Netflix.

At the end of the  episode we would sit mouths agape craving more. Just one more hit. Just one. And Netflix obliges. Sit back, they say, we’ll take care of the rest. House of Cards episode 21 beginning in 18 seconds…17 seconds…16.

One episode turns into three, then four and the suddenly it’s one in the morning and my children will be up before the sun and I am half baked pregnant and yet tearing myself away is difficult. Especially knowing that we have so few left to watch.

My husband and I promised we wouldn’t watch without one another. He’s on his way home. I can’t wait to see Frank again.

 

Are you watching? Want a hit?

 

 

Stop the wife shaming- You’re probably NOT making these wife mistakes.

I love this grown man, who is not a baby. And he loves me...even in yoga pants that have never been to yoga.

I love this grown man, who is not a baby. And he loves me…even in yoga pants that have never been to yoga.

Every so often one of those Five Ways I’m Failing My Marriage or Five Ways to Be A Better Wife posts come along and they always make me nuts. Now that I am pregnant and I can’t stand even the smallest amount of BS one popped up today and just made me furious. The common demonitator here is, of course, me. Why do these make me so insane? I really thought about it and then I realized what it is.

It is the insulting way we expect our men to be morons. Listen, I’m not saying they can’t BE morons or that we wives can’t BE morons. We’re human. We mess up. It’s okay. But we intruct our men that we expect so very little of them and yet we consistently pump out the posts guilting ourselves and our fellow women into feeling like we don’t do enough. Not so much the “daddy bloggers” with these posts, am I right?

Today’s As A Wife, I Am Guilty Of These Five Things ( AND YOU PROBABLY ARE TOO!) had a couple of true gems that just really pissed me off…and offended me on behalf of my husband.

First and foremost, submit to your man sexually no matter what mood you’re in or how your day has gone. Come on, is this 1942? Of COURSE I’ve rallied for my man when I didn’t feel like it, we all have. And you know what makes me want to rally for him the most? That time and time again he has said and shown that he doesn’t enjoy it if I don’t. That he gets zero pleasure out of my grinning and bearing it while he gets his rocks off. Not what he – and probably your husband too- wants. And if it IS what he wants? You to just shut up and take it? Then we have some more important issues to discuss. I do rally for my man and you know what? He rallies for me. It might not be sexually but I as a wife have needs too that must be fulfilled. It’s a two way street. Sometimes he rallies by putting away the ipad and listening to the minutae of my day. What happened in preschool, who said what on the internet. We discuss articles we’ve read and shows we want to see and talk all manner of House of Cards and it’s comparisons to MacBeth. I know he is tired after working a long day, just as I am tired after a day of toddler terrorist negotiations and OMG why did no one tell me that dealing with a 5 year old boy can be like dealing with a 13 year old girl? (The mood swings are terrifyingly quick.) I know he wants to zone out and kill Zombies on the ipad, but he sits next to me and gives me his attention. That’s rallying for me and it makes me want to rally right back.That’s sexy. Marriage is a two way street, baby.

And guess what if some nights I just can’t rally? He’s a grown man, he can handle it. He can. And if he can’t rally and just needs to shoot some zombies? I can handle that too.

I quote  I often forget that my husband needs my attention, my encouragement and my admiration as much as, if not more than, my children. Ummmm what? I don’t know about your husband, but mine is a grown man. Sure, he needs encouragement. We all do. And I try my best to be his biggest cheerleader but he is a fully actualized human being- meaning he can acknowledge when he himself has done a good job and is motivated by things other than applause. Also? He loves our kids, he knows developmentally their self esteem is still forming and they are figuring things out. I can and do encourage my husband, he is AMAZING. He works crazy hard for our family and I know he gets dissapointed that we aren’t moving forward as quickly as we’d like, but I can encourage him with a hug, a kiss, a smile, a kind and specific word about what he is doing at work or at home. Why do we yet again expect our husbands to be more sensitive, needier, and more helpless than our children? My husband is able to quickly assess a situation and recognize that our child needs a bigger WAY TO GO!!! than he does. Because he is a grown freaking man. We can all do better to encourage our husbands and they can do better to encourage us. A kind word is always good…but to insinuate that they are such weaklings they need it more than children? Is insulting to them as men and to them as fathers.

Next up, control. We need to give them major props any time they do anything at home even if they attempt to instruct us on how to load the diswasher and should hold our tongues and let them feel manly for telling us how to do it. Listen. Dishes get clean people,  whether they’re loaded my way or his. Who cares? I can’t be bothered with this.The one and only thing I wish I could teach him is how to make a neat little dirty diaper envelope so everything is contained. He just tosses those bad boys in the container and we have a houdini dog and it makes me insane. He can’t be bothered. However, he wishes I would learn how to turn on the damn x-box kinnect so he doesn’t have too. Chances are he just hates doing poopy diapers and wants me to handle them and chances are I am lazy and just want him to play kinnect with the kids. And we are cool with that. And it doesn’t make him feel disprespected (because he is grown freaking man and knows what disrespectful really is) and I don’t feel disrespected either.

 

Not only are you failing at housekeeping, sex and basically everything else…also you’re slovenly. Oh the SHAME! My husband came home the other day and I was in leggings. He still wanted to get busy. I got all dressed up the other day. He wanted to get busy. I had the stomach flu and when I finally took a shower and put on some chapstick he told me I looked beautiful. I should make more of an effort in this department but not just to please him. I am in the trenches still with two little ones and one more on the way and nothing fits and just UGH. If I get dressed up and put on full make up, it’s for me…it makes ME feel good. Of course Zach likes it when I get dressed up just as I think he is dreamy when he gets all dressed and put on his cologne. No one smells better than my husband. No one. It’s really hard in this stage in life, we spend all day crawling on the ground with kids, fetching things, changing diapers…it’s easy and practical to wear comfortable clothes you can move in and let’s stop fighting that yoga pants aren’t everywhere? They are. And they’re comfy and practical and easy to wash. They’re also easy to take off. If he came home and I was all made up, wearing a pencil skirt and a nice blouse he would laugh his ass off. Not that he wouldn’t think I look pretty, he would just think it was a really impractical fashion choice for the tasks at hand. We can easily take 5 seconds to put on a little lip gloss, a statement necklace over that cute T and jeans makes it an outfit. Easy to do and yes, our husbands appreciate it.And they can at least try to keep their hands out of their pants while they watch tv. But you’re not failing at wifedom if he shows up and you’ve got Mac n Cheese dumped in your lap and you’re desperately trying to get your 2 year old to eat ANYTHING. If anything it’s good for him to see how hard you work, maybe you could use a word of encouragement too.

 

My problem with these articles is not that they want us to to get dressed or care for our husbands. That’s good advice. It’s the consistent babying of our men and the utter disregard for OUR needs. Marriage isn’t give and take; it’s give and recieve. I give encouragement- I recieve encouragement. I give love- I receive love.

But both my husband and myself are offended at the implication that he is some insipid fool who needs to be catered too.
Let’s stop mom shaming, wife shaming, woman shaming. Let’s stop expecting so little from our men. Let’s all encourage each other.

It’s hard to be two.

 

"we getting cookies?"

“we getting cookies?”

It’s just hard to be two. Sometimes you wake up – okay everyday you wake up- and all you want is milk in your damn red Lightning McQueen sippy cup. Not the black one, the red one. And every day your mommy will nervously hand you your milk in your red Lightning McQueen sippy cup and then OH MY GAWD SHE GAVE YOU MILK IN YOUR RED LIGHTNING MCQUEEN SIPPY CUP! So obviously you have to just toss it across the room and cry because of the indignity of it all. Then as mommy retrieves the sippy cup you have to give her the saddest look in the world and blink down some serious alligator tears because now she has the sippy cup and you want it. That worked! Now you have your beloved milk in your red Lightning McQueen sippy cup!

Next up, cereal. No, not that one! What is brother having? Chex? THAT ONE! Right there. In the bowl. With milk today and the orange spoon. Has to be the orange spoon. No other spoon could ever spoon up that cereal. Wait…no. NO cereal! Quickly push cereal away and spill milk. This is so tiring, now you have to cry because somehow there is now cold milk in your lap!  You need to be consoled due to the freezing tragedy but mommy’s going on and on about not pushing the cereal bowl like that and time outs. Time out? Is she kidding? No, you’ll  just lay right here on the kitchen floor and scream for a while. She says that’s cool you can have your time out right there and how can she be cleaning up that mess and ignoring your cries when you’re clearly in need of cuddles? You shift gears.

Cue saddest sweetest voice in the whole world “mommy I want you.” That’s good. Stick out lower lip, reach up for her and when she picks you up hold on like a baby howler monkey. Make sure to get fluffy good smelling hair right under her nose and breathe on her neck. She’ll cave. Now, sweet smile and say  “anola bah peese?” despite protestations, mommy has switched us to organic honey sweetened granola bars. But they still have a few chocolate chips and they’re actually pretty good. “Sure baby”  she coos and sits you back down in your cushie tushie booster. Quickly hands you and your big bother granola bars. Totally unfair he gets to sit at the counter and you’re in this baby chair. Note to self: plot baby chair escape.

Recieve granola bar with big smile and say “thank you” this will get you far. Look at her beam with pride. It’s so easy. By the time mommy turns around to give brother his granola bar you break yours into three pieces. OH NO! Broken granola bar! You simply have to freak out, there is no other choice! Mommy will turn around utterly confused as to what could have happened in 2 seconds?? Silly woman. My bar is busted!!!

Brother says “No look Huckie! My bar is the same!” he holds up his granola bar, it’s in three pieces too! “We have the same, Boo! It’s cool!”

You look at your bar and it’s three awesome pieces, beam at brother and say “it’s cooo!”

Mommy whispers something to brother, something about how sweet that was and she’s so thankful and proud that he thought of  that on his own. Whatever. Brother looks at you with a big smile and takes a bite, now you Boo! he says.

You do the same. It’s pretty yummy. Take a swig of your red Lightning McQueen sippy cup and bask in the knowlege that you’re just like brother and that is so cool.

Man this morning was exhausting. Too bad you’ve decided to never freaking nap again.

 

Being two is exhausting.

The pressure of a 3rd.

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From the moment we announced I was pregnant with our third baby it started. The comments. From anyone and everyone. Strangers who saw me at the store, good friends, family. “Oh! I hope it’s a girl. You want a girl, right?” “Trying for a girl were you?” “that better be a girl.”

Sure, a girl would be lovely. Different but lovely. A little scary, since I myself was no picnic as a kid and teen, but yes, I confess I dreamt of little shoes and dresses and such. But I’ve found that when I would smile and say the trite but true “seriously we just want healthy” people would nod knowingly and smile and couldn’t resist a “Of course! Still, a girl would be nice right?”

Only one person said “Three boys sounds like heaven to me.” and I held on to that because it sounds heavenly to me too. Three healthy babies xx or xy sounds heavenly to me. Sounds like something I know so many people would give anything to have.

I started to feel a lot of pressure, as if I would disappoint these people, these strangers in the store if I should fail to produce a female child. Everyone seemed singularly focused on a girl baby. This had to be a girl baby. It just had too. How would I face people, friends, family and random people about town with three boys? I was starting to believe I would almost feel embarrassed by it and that’s not what I want. Would we be moving on “gonna try one more time?” Because the answer is no. Boy or girl this is it. My children are my world and my world is large enough, thank you. Still it seemed like I would disappoint everyone. Finally I just started being honest. “You know I’m feeling like everyone is going to be disappointed if this is a boy!” People would laugh nervously and reassure me they wouldn’t be, but still followed up with one more “but the little ruffles!” or something of the like. As we grew closer to finding out my anxiety grew. With the ultrasound scheduled for the 24th I was surprised when the nurse from my OB called with results from my blood test from the previous visit. Everything was fine, right? She assured me it was but that with the broad spectrum blood test they had a 99.5% accurate gender prediction and did I want to know?

I did. Of course I did.

It felt a bit as if time slowed down, I sat in the rocking chair and prepared myself, either way I would be happy but I knew if it was a boy I’d better prepare some snappy come backs, because if it was another boy I would want him to know I was never disappointed. Three boys does sound like heaven. Loud, messy heaven.

I made her tell me three times, not believing her. “I have two boys so I just want to make sure I really hear it.” She was so patient and happy for me. She laughed with me as I tried to process, something I am still doing. What I didn’t share with her is that I felt a little relief when she said “it’s a girl!” Relief that people wouldn’t be disappointed. Relief that I wouldn’t have to constantly tell people I was happy to have three little boys. I find that as I allow myself to get excited about a daughter I also find myself mourning a little bit for the little boy I was prepared to defend simply for being. My two boys are such good friends I know a third would have just added to the fun. But they are so excited for a little sister, it’s what my oldest has been requesting since his brother was 6 months old. I’m starting to really look forward to the girl stuff..whatever she decides that entails. And my boys are excited too.

 

But I’m going to be double and triple checking on that ultrasound on the 24th.

and here I was wearing stilettos.

Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away and it has caused a great rift in our world. Perhaps because he didn’t cross most of our minds on a daily basis. Sure, if we saw him we thought oh man, he is amazing in insert everything he ever did here.Perhaps it’s because despite the fact that we as a whole never really connected with HIM we certainly did with his work. Each character he played he embodied fully, each one breathed differently, it was almost as if he was able to change himself on a cellular level to bring life to them. He was evil then goofy, then a master manipulator, then a man whose every dream dissapointed him and he himself showed up to awards ceremonies looking as if he barely bothered to look in the mirror and we loved it.  He certainly was a transcendent artist and like so many before him, he struggled. It’s a misnomer to say that addiction targets those of the brilliant artistic mind, those tortured artists. 26 people died from heroine overdoses in Philly in January and nary a one was a world famous tortured artist. But addiction’s jaws snatched one of the great artists of our time this week. And while we mourn the loss of each character that touched us, that infuriated us, that connected us, we also mourn the might have beens.

We will never know what he would have brought us in the next 20 years. Much like we still mourn the loss of Heath Ledger and what he would have brought in the next 20 years. Another brilliant artistic mind. Another one addiction stole too soon.

Hoffman left behind a girlfriend Mimi O’Donnell, of 20 years and three children, the oldest of which is ten. Heath Ledger left behind an ex, clearly still loved and a daughter so young none of her memories of his voice will come from anything other than a movie.

One of the great things Hoffman’s career did was make us feel as if we are not alone. His characters in their struggles they knew what we were going through. That is the single greatest thing art can do, I believe, connect us. Make us feel not alone in this wide scary world. Sometimes you feel all alone, no one can understand what you’re going through and then art can show take your hand and walk you through it. This is why it is noteable that in real life Michelle Williams reached out to Hoffman’s partner. Williams knows all to terribly well what Ms. O’Donnel is going through. I can only imagine how comforting it is to have someone know exactly what you’re going through at a time like this. Even while wishing no one did.

Thankfully, Page Six not only reported that she came to visit but what she wore. In this case, an olive drab jacket and fleece lined duck boots. Because that is important information that warrents being above the scroll (which is the new above the fold). And truly,  the wrong condolence shoes can make or break a greiving process. I suppose it might have been newsworthy should she have arrived in her stunning yellow Oscar dress resplendant with jewels ( as I sidenote if I owned that dress I would be like that one stand up comic in the 80’s who wore her wedding dress all the time. I’d wear that thing to Costco, Target, Little League Games, to vaccuum) but what is important in this story is that people who knew him loved him. They took the time to visit his loved ones. To share memories that I wish I was privvy too, the stories of working with him, of knowing him. His art connected people, his life connected people and now sadly his death connects people.

And page six? No one gives a crap what they wore.

tossing out the kids lunch was a “mistake”

Tiny me. I cut my own hair. Hide your suprise.

Tiny me. I cut my own hair. Hide your suprise.

I can’t stop thinking about these kids in Utah- I’m sure you’ve heard about it- the ones who were either out of money on their lunch cards or had a debt and although they had a tray of food in their hands it was taken away and they were told, basically, “no lunch for you”. They were given milk and fruit, the calories of which I am sure were burned quickly away by the humilation and shame of the experience leaving none left for science or math.

I feel their humilation. Although this exact thing never happened to me, growing up I remember all to well waiting at the check out of the grocery store as they scanned my mother’s check. Would it go through or would we have to leave the food there and go home empty handed? My mother worked hard, she was tough and resourceful, she made it look like we had way more than we did and she made sure I never missed an opportunity I wanted. Not that I appreciated it then, I was so messed up I have a lot of guilt over the sacrifices she made and how I wasted those opportunities. But even working hard we were frequently paycheck to paycheck. Or worse. As soon as my mother took out her check book I could feel my face growing red, feel the anxiety ball churning in my stomach, lowering my head but keeping my eyes on that tell tale screen. Approved? Denied? I’m sure it took less than 30 seconds for all the information to be transferred back and forth but it felt like ages. Approved meant a deep breath and a feeling of repreive. Declined meant I wanted to die. Usually meant I’d throw up from nerves right when I got home.  All these years later I can see it as if I am right there, right now.

And my mother was not lazy or a freeloader. She worked so hard, like so many Americans barely making it.

There were times when kids from my school were at the store too, and that made it so much worse. I knew they knew, even if they didn’t…I felt like they did. And they judged me for it.

How must these children have felt to have food literally taken away from them in front of their friends? Try as you might in school there is a gap between the haves and have nots. How will this affect their self esteem? Their school work? Their friendships. If money is owed take it up with the parents. If it’s a constant problem, set up something, even telling the child no more food, but PRIVATELY.

When did adults begin acting so horribly towards children? I supposed they always have. Now the principal of the school says it was a “mistake”, a mistake. Yes, it is always a mistake to humilate children isn’t it? I’m certain there is a better way to handle this. School, especially elementary school is supposed to be a safe place, for some kids it’s the only safe place.

It’s such a simple thing and yet so devastating. And it didn’t have to happen if only the adults had thought. Kids aren’t freeloaders. They’re just kids.  I guess that’s why I am so upset about it. What do you think?