08.12.2013 | 6:20 pm | Daily Life

We’ve been pulling all the old baby gear out of the attic and closets, in the hope of selling as much as possible in exchange for much-needed cash. I was listing my sling, and while I had a picture of it laying flat, I thought I might add a picture of what it looked like in use. So I searched my pictures folder and found one taken way back in 2007, when Des was just a tiny new babe tucked inside it during one of our evening walks.

Because Des seems to find it impossible that he was ever a baby, and also because he’d seen the sling and couldn’t recall ever being in it, I called him over to show him the picture, saying, “Look! There’s your head poking out of the sling. You were such a tiny baby then!” I explained to him that this is how I used to carry him on our walks. He studied the picture for a bit, and then asked, “Why do you look so different there?”

I looked at the image of myself, taken only 5 1/2 years ago, and realized why he’d asked that. The girl in the picture was young —even at 34, vibrant, and happy, with smiling eyes to go with the smile on her face. She was relatively thin even after having just given birth, her long, well-cared for blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail. She was even wearing makeup, something she’s not been prone to do without a good reason ever since she became a mom. But most of all, the girl was healthy.

Contrast the girl in the picture to the haggard, overweight, unkempt, unwell mother he now sees every day…and it’s easy to see exactly why he couldn’t put that girl and me now together as the same person.

I’m ashamed of how I look. Completely ashamed. I’ve never been beautiful, but I made peace with that years ago once I realized that I don’t have to be beautiful (as long as Philip thinks I am) :-), and have always taken pride in keeping myself looking my best. But now, after 18 months of enduring an illness that is truly indescribable, I have never been so out of shape, so fat, so unkempt…so not my best. And I’ve never in my life been in a place where there is absolutely nothing I can do about any of it. Being homebound due to the debilitating nature of my symptoms, I can’t even go out and get my hair cut & colored professionally; I have to do it here myself. And while I’ve learned how to cut the boys’ & Philip’s hair pretty well, I can’t cut my own hair for anything! Let’s just say my hair is a far cry from that perfectly-highlighted, cute blonde ponytail I was wearing 5 years ago, and leave it at that. It’s not pretty.

So back to Des’ question. It was completely innocent; he didn’t ask it to hurt me. He truly wanted to know why the mom he knows now looks so different from that healthy, vibrant, comparatively-beautiful person he saw carrying him in a sling when he was a baby.

But it did hurt. Oh, did it sting. It broke me to my core. To know that he sees how this sickness has devastated my body and changed my appearance. It magnified the shame I feel at what I’ve become, and the utter frustration I feel at being helpless to do anything to change any of it. He deserves better. Both my boys deserve better. For that matter, so does Philip.

Oh God, please…please hear the cry of my soul. Please, let this brokenness move you. I need healing so I can begin building a healthy, sound body again. My boys need a healthy, strong, vibrant mother again —for so many reasons.

On Becoming a Mother

08.6.2013 | 12:55 pm | Uncategorized

I read a piece today on mothering, and how difficult (understatement!) it is to find your way when you first become a mother— I experienced this shocking blow not just the first time around, but also the second time. Perhaps even moreso after my second was born, because of how utterly overwhelming it was to tend to an infant while also trying to be there for his older brother. I remember months’ worth of days where I was so exhausted, I could barely see straight.

Anyway, one of the things she said was absolutely perfect for describing those exhausting, sometimes brutal months and years spent mothering new babies and young children:

“It is overwhelming and completely exhausting, and figuring it all out is some of the most physically, mentally, emotionally, and heart-wrenching work you will ever do.”

Hear, hear!