Monday, June 10, 2019

Online Shopping and the Memory Pouch

Lately I've been scrolling through the websites of those ads that float through Facebook, looking for a dress. I'm not really sure why I'm looking for a dress as I don't have a lot of occasions to wear a dress, but they look so nice and airy and I picture myself in one and it makes me happy, so I scroll anyway.

I saw a dress I liked today and then I asked myself, "But would that dress accentuate my Memory Pouch?" My Memory Pouch is the lump that my husband and I have decided to affectionately call that area of my front between my belly button and the nether regions. It's that know, the thing that looks like a fanny pack but isn't because it is part of you? The thing that might make some brave and/or clueless people ask if you are expecting but they won't because they know you're not because you have grey hair and wrinkles and sag in places. Yes, that place. We call it the Memory Pouch because when you have spent 55 years on this planet you have a lot of life and a lot of memories to store somewhere and, if you are like me, your brain sure as hell ain't doin' it.

Anyway, my reflexive response to seeing this dress was how would I look in it? And all you ladies know this. That those models are all 5'9" with thin, gangley bodies, no hips, and certainly no Memory Pouches. So it is hard to tell if I could pull off such a dress or would look like a sleeping bag poorly rolled into its stuff bag.

Then it hit me. When I see a woman with a perfect body, especially a woman my age or older with a perfect body, I feel a total disconnect. They aren't like me. They must have it together. They must have more discipline. More time. More energy. More something that I ain't got. And I step back and step away.

I remember one day watching Chopped. I hate cooking and I love watching Chopped. It doesn't make sense to me either. Well, after years of watching Chopped I have found that I really admire the women chefs who serve as judges. During this particular episode the judges themselves were competing with each other. Now they were no longer talking torsos behind the judges panel but full bodies, rushing, and chopping, and cooking. And I noticed that the chefs like Alex Guarnaschelli and Amanda Freitag, though both gorgeous in any estimation, had normal looking bodies. They weren't supermodels with killer culinary skills. And this may sound strange to you and maybe I am just weird like this but for some reason the fact that these highly esteemed, awesome, beautiful women had ordinary bodies gave me permission to have an ordinary body, too.

Those who spend any time reading my posts on Facebook or my blog posts know that I feel things intensely and have some pretty strong (an understatement that would make my husband snicker) convictions and one of my convictions is that the unrealistic expectations regarding women and physical beauty must change. I have realized that I cannot be simultaneously caving to these standards and trying to change them at the same time. That is why I no longer color my hair (and, yes, people now assume that I am older than my older sister).

Back to the dress and the Memory Pouch. What if I bought a dress I really loved and I let my Memory Pouch do its thing? What if the obvious presence of my Memory Pouch makes another woman feel more normal? More acceptable? What if having an ordinary body gives somebody else permission to have an ordinary body, too? Then it is all worth it. Bring on the dresses!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Mother Love

When I was a young mother, the emphasis in parenting was all on training. Training your kids to do things. Training them to work hard. To do chores. To obey the first time. And cheerfully at that. I failed terribly on most of these fronts.

The emphasis was on structure. "Kids need structure," I was told again and again and again as I shrugged when asked about naps and meals and bedtime schedules and rituals. I wasn't so good at structure.

The push was always on performance. Either theirs or mine. A woman called me one day to ask how I got my kids to make up their beds neatly every morning. Her children were 2 and 3 and struggling to keep up with the program and she was baffled. Why on earth she thought I would have a solution, I'll never know.

Babies were supposed to be able to fall asleep alone and self-soothe. Kids were supposed to learn responsibility and competence and independence. I knew kids who, by age 10, were capable enough to run a small country.

What I never heard was how important it was to just flat out love on your kids. To nurture them. Rock them. Sing them to sleep. Listen to their fears. Rub their backs. Laugh with them inside their forts made of appliance boxes. Cry with them. And love them no matter what.

In Without a Map, Meredith Hall tells the story of a friend who gives blood every time there is a blood drive. When she tells her friend how generous this is her friend responds, "I only go because I need the mothering so much. It feels good to be touched. The nurses are kind and make me feel loved."

This breaks my heart that there is an adult woman out there who so desperately needs someone to nurture her, even for a few minutes, that she has to seek it out at the local Red Cross.

Mothers, love on your kids. Even when they make a mess or fail a test (even when they could have done better) Love on your kids when they make you proud and when they embarrass the heck out of you. When they grumble and grunt at you or roll their eyes. Love on them when they come home pregnant or come out of the closet. Be there for them. Be their safe place. Give it to them while you can. Love on your kids.

Nobody should have to go to the Red Cross to get mothered.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

In Defense of Medication

A few weeks back I was driving down the road when some words leapt off a sign and punched me in the face.

Taking meds to make you healthy is like getting a loan to make you rich. 

I just about ran off the road in a mad rage with steam puffing out my ears and my eyes all Cruella DeVille-like. I am so so SO freaking sick of the idea that medication is not only unnecessary, it is downright bad.

This isn't the first time I've encountered this ideology. I once saw a meme that basically gave you the option: a basket full of fresh, healthy produce or a spoon full of pills. As if a it is an either/or proposition. As if eating your fruits and veggies will mean you don't need to swallow those evil pills pushed on you by Big Pharma and the corollary being that if you need to take those pills, you obviously aren't doing it right. People, this has got to stop.

While it is true that eating in a healthy manner and getting regular exercise can reduce your risk of a number of illnesses and while it is true that many people, in changing over to a healthier lifestyle, have been able to reduce or eliminate their need for certain medications, it is also true that there are so very many conditions out there that are NOT impacted by the food you eat because there are so many other factors at play. And to those who have these conditions,  this anti-medication bias is discouraging and downright cruel.

While others out there may brag that they don't take any medication for anything or that their Grandpa Carbunkel is 87 and still isn't on any meds, as if it is some sort of a professional accomplishment or test of his character, there are a lot of us....a LOT of us, who take daily medication. And for many of us, taking medication isn't because we refuse to give up our Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls or our 3 packs per day of Marlboro Lights or our PBR 12-pack. Many of us take medication because our conditions are not in any way related to our food or exercise choices. We take medication because we struggle with faulty wiring, intense pain, hormonal imbalances, a crappy set of genes.

Nobody relishes the idea of having to take medication on daily basis. But many of us do so because that medication makes a huge difference in quality of life, in the ability to function at our jobs and love our families and do the things we love. For some of us, that medication means that we will be able to stave off the debilitating effects of disease for years longer. And for some of us, that medication means the difference between life and death.

Please be gentle then, you who have stellar bodies and naturally mentally healthy minds. Please use restraint, you who believe that your herbal remedy or special diet is the right potion for everyone. Please respect that some of us (and I say us because I am one of us) need medication for reasons you might not understand. Please trust that we are not lazy or stupid or easily duped by some corporation but that we make informed decisions based on benefits and risks.

And please stop with the pithy sayings. And, for the record, sometimes taking out a loan to build wealth is a wise thing to do.