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All I Want For Christmas Is Two Distinct Eyebrows

4 Nov

Dear Santa, A little help? Please? Love, Jaime

A couple years ago, Jake and I read the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  The book is just meh, but its principles have definitely helped us to understand how we each show and receive love.  Before we’d read it?  Yeah, we weren’t so hot at that.

Jake’s love language is affection and physical touch.  That is how he receives and shows his love.  Before reading the book, I remember Jake holding my hand while we watched a movie and boring holes in my skin with repetitive thumb-strokes.  To him, that said I love you.  To me, it said I’m trying to kill you with my thumb, slowly and methodically.  I told him to knock it off, and he felt rejected.  No bueno, especially since I rarely returned the repetitive affection.  If it annoyed me, it must have annoyed him too, right?

Meantime, my love language is gifts.  I’m always afraid that sounds materialistic, but really any gift will do.  I also relish in gift-giving and the surprise on someone’s face when they get something they really like.  That speaks love to me.  But not so much with Jake.  I would buy him some little trinket or doodad that reminded me of him and await the gush of gratitude, but all he really wanted was a hug.  On the flip side, for our first Christmas together, he bought me a heating pad for my menstrual cramps.  A heating pad.  “You said you needed one!” he explained upon seeing my grimace-trying-to-be-a-smile. 

Did I say any gift will make me happy?  Okay, I admit, I feel most loved when someone gets me what I really want, not just what they think I need. 

But then we read the five love languages book, and now we get it.  I put my hand on Jake’s shoulder/knee/neck and he feels loved.  I still don’t understand how, but he swears it works.  And he goes out of his way to get me little somethings now and then so I fell loved.  The best he’s done so far was to surprise me with a super-plushy bathrobe I’d been lusting after.  When I asked him how he knew I wanted it, he pointed to my stained, crusty old bathrobe and said he was sick of seeing me hobble around in rags.  “Sort of a gift for everyone” is what he called it.  Hey, whatever works.

For gifty types like me, Christmas is a big deal.  I’ve been brainstorming gifts to give to family all year long, taking notes, keeping lists, etc.  It is how I enjoy myself.  Jake, on the other hand, is stressed out about the gift-giving.  (I don’t blame him for wondering why there isn’t a national affection holiday.  Wait, maybe it’s best that there isn’t one.  [Mind wandering]…ew, nevermind.)  So, to help him out, I present him with an annual list of things I might enjoy.  Again, this probably seems materialistic and grabby, but he always appreciates the minimization of margin for error. 

I noticed as I put it together that this year’s list is very different from prior years’.  Pre-Seabass, my wish list would include clothes, cookbooks, kitchenware, etc.  And while I do and will always appreciate those sorts of things, this year?  It’s all about making up for the hygiene I’ve lost since Seabass was born.

Again, the gifts I want are sort of like gifts for everybody.

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I will take it every time.

19 Aug

About four weeks after I’d given birth to the wild Seabass, I was feeling bad about my post-partum body (e.g. the sagging, the bulging, the all-around frumpiness), and decided to lift my spirits by going on a stroller walk downtown with the boy.

As I passed the neighborhood watering hole – abuzz with butt rock and college students yelling expletives at full volume –  I remembered that it was graduation weekend for the local university.  Sighing heavily, I realized that C and I would be dodging drunk and/or hungover 22-year-olds for the remainder of the walk.  I’m only ten years older than them but I suddenly felt like Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace.  Stinkin’ kids.

I managed to avoid any major drama until, in front of the Gap, two young guys staggered toward me from the opposite direction.  It was immediately obvious that they were a) wasted, and b) looking for an opportunity to hassle someone or something.  Unfortunately, the only someone or something available at the moment was me.

“Hey!” one of them blurted from a couple feet away.

Keep your head down.  Just walk past.  And don’t let them barf anywhere near the expensive stroller.

“Hey!” he repeated.  “Dijoo grajooate thisss weekend?”

I looked over my shoulder, wondering how this poor soul could possibly confuse me – the drab woman pushing the stroller – with a perky young graduate.

“Uh, no.  That was about fifteen years ago, buddy,” I quipped, thinking that would put an end to our brief relationship.

The two young bucks exchanged slightly surprised glances before one of them gave me the thumbs up and slurred, “Lookin’ good, mom!”

Now, I should say that I do not condone drunkenness, nor leering, nor cat-calling.  Not in the least.

But I would be lying if I said I didn’t walk home with a big smile painted on my face.  And perhaps holding my head up a little higher.

Missing: My Butt

22 Jul

Something's missing here.

While we’re admitting things we’re not proud of, I’ll just go ahead and share that I think about my body a lot these days.  Probably way too much.

When I read the word “PREGNANT” on the white stick last August, of course the first thing I considered was the tiny little Seabass swimming contentedly in my lower abdomen.  But just behind that thought was a more sinister one, lurking deep in the shadows: You’re going to get fat. And then, to its logical conclusion: The fat might never go away.

Thankfully, I only gained about 30 pounds during my pregnancy – truly a miracle considering how I put away tri-tip sandwiches and muffins for nine months.  Also very thankfully, I have lost all but five of those pounds due to breastfeeding and the God-given grace of good genes.  But that’s not to say I look the same.  Uh, no.  Not even close.

You see, I appear to have lost my butt.

It first became clear that my butt had gone missing about two months into the pregnancy.  “Does my bee-hind look different to you?” I asked Jake, turning to give him the best view.  Having learned his lesson years ago, he replied, “No, you look beautiful as always.”  Smart man.  And a liar.

I probably wouldn’t have asked him or even noticed it myself if my undergarments hadn’t started acting differently. To explain…hmmm…how can I put this delicately?  It suddenly felt like I was pulling my underwear out of my rear 24 hours a day.  There was no longer anything of substance to hold it back.  The elastic looked for something – anything – to cling to, but there was no hanging on.  It just slid across that flat surface and happily wedged itself right in the middle.

Afraid that my Mom Butt (a real condition) would lead to the inevitable wearing of Mom Jeans (a real product), I consulted with friends who’d already had babies to get the inside scoop.  “Don’t worry,” they reassured me.  “Your butt’s just hibernating.  There’ll be junk back in your trunk the moment Seabass is born.  You’ll see.”

But I’m not seeing anything yet.  My trunk remains junk-less, and I’m still playing tug-o-war with my undies on a bi-hourly basis. To make matters worse, my stomach looks like a Shar Pei puppy and my shoulders are permanently slumped from holding the baby.  I’m like the friggin Phantom of the Opera.

Let’s just get this out of the way: I know I should be patient with myself.  I know, I know. And I know that Hollywood has given me an unrealistic expectation for my postpartum body.  I know, I know.

Perhaps more helpful to me right now is knowing that my body has done something for which it was made.  I grew a beautiful, healthy baby and birthed him, all by myself.  Shouldn’t my body look different after a feat of such enormity?  If it took nine months for this body to grow with Seabass, shouldn’t I expect that it will take another nine months to shrink back to size?

Yes, I should.

But I think some of this crazy-making comes from my refusal to accept that I look like a mom.  I may not wear Mom Jeans (yet) but I carry a diaper bag that requires its own zip code.  I can’t wear most of my cute pre-preg clothes because they don’t present easy access to the boob for nursing.  I mean, I drive a little SUV for crying out loud.  Anyone who looks at me can easily deduce which phase of life I’m in, long before the baby comes into view.  And maybe that scares me a little.  The no-question-ness of it all.

So for the time being, I’m putting up little signs around the neighborhood that read: “Have you seen this butt?  Last seen August, 2009.”  I’m checking between the cushions on the sofa.  I’m peeking in the dryer and under the bed.  My tush has to be somewhere around here, and I’m not giving up until I find it.

Crying and Peeing. Together.

2 Jul

A lot of new moms are shocked by how hard it is to recover from childbirth.  No one tells you that you’ll fantasize about walking for the first month, or that the real “little bundle of joy” you’re taking home is a bag full of adult diapers and Tucks pads that the hospital gives you.  No one tells you that you’ll be shifting in your seat on a very very very sore behind while nursing the new baby for hours on end.

And no one tells you that you’ll pee your pants.  Perhaps more than once.

At this point, some of you – particularly those of you who are male – may be clicking on that little red box with an ‘x’ inside the upper right corner of your screen because you simply don’t want to know this about me.  But those of you who have had a baby or are sickly fascinated with what it’s like will enjoy the following narrative immensely.

***

Once again, I am up with Seabass at 3am.  He’s probably about 2 weeks old, and I am dutifully changing his diaper.  But when I stand up, I vaguely notice that my bladder is full.  Huh, I think, I’ll have to visit the bathroom when I’m done here. This is pre-pregnancy, normal person thinking.  I bring Seabass over to the changing table and – whaddya know? – he starts to cry.  Really hard.  As I remove his diaper, a surprisingly acute stream of pee arcs from his body to the wall.  (Whenever this happens, it always takes me a second to realize what’s going on, and by that time, something – whether it’s me, the wall, or C’s face – is completely soaked.)  Something about the stress of covering Seabass’ little willy while attempting to quiet him at 3am causes me once again to consider my full bladder.  Wow, I really have to go, I think.

Only this time, as I’m thinking it, I’m actually peeing.  Never mind that my brain is telling my body to hold it.  That simply doesn’t seem to matter anymore.  So I start to cry.

If we’re looking for a silver lining in this story, I can tell you that it was wonderful to connect with my son as we were both crying and peeing together.  Really, a lovely moment.

But since then, I have learned a number of very important lessons:

  1. At the first inkling of a tinkle, run to the bathroom.  Do not mosey. Do not tempt fate.
  2. When everyone tells you to practice Kegels during your pregnancy, do not blow it off as a mere suggestion.  The practice of Kegels could mean the difference between a happy, fulfilled motherhood and the loss of all dignity.
  3. A wet bottom is just a sneeze away.  Beware.