Motivation, Tinyness

Today the sun was gleaming and strong and sweat-provoking in the same way as the late July sun: clinging to black tank tops, searing.  The weekends are the syrup on the week: I have Corey as my Copilot of The Crazy and he can wrangle one child while I stuff the other one under my shirt, he can point out the scuttling rock crabs while I point my phone at them, collecting shards of late summer for wistful remembrance later.

In the afternoon we dropped Jude and his mini-bike with my Mom, Nolan at his Dad’s, and we took Summer to the gym to sleep/hangout while we garnered a sweat.

I’m employing the slash in the previous sentence because if Summer doesn’t sleep at the gym, she just hangs out there wide-eyed in her car seat, regarding all the maniacs with scab shins and knee socks with a calm tolerance.  She watches us grunt and strain and hammer out our bottled angst,  for an hour if we want, no problem.  Corey and I look at her and we look at each other and we are appalled by the fact that we made a human that is so completely opposite from her older brother.  She’s so completely different from us too, with a mellow sweetness that doesn’t match the frenetic stubborn firecracker-ness of all of her immediate family members.

She smiling these days, and making crazily adorable cooing noises, and she is the most laid back human being I have ever encountered.  People regard me with concern sometimes, ask about the insanity of three children and whether I feel compelled to toss myself into a meat grinder sometimes but honestly, my 2.5 month old has not in any way made my life more challenging.  She sleeps through the night, she naps well, she doesn’t get upset.  She has these eyes that know things, but she also possesses a push-button smile that lights up her face with a dwarfish glee and it is so innocent and possibility-filled that it very often makes me want to cry.  More so lately. Because here’s the thing: I return to work in three weeks.

I say that, and people look at me, and etched in their frown lines is a mixture of pity and sympathy and next usually comes “Oh wow, so soon?”

It wasn’t all that soon before Summer existed on the outside, I could easily envision going back to work because work is what I do best.  It’s what I love.  I am a better career woman than I am a Mom, and I actually think that’s saying something because I know I am not a bad Mother.  I love to strategize and create and bring in money and summon friends out of prospects who were once annoyed by my persistence. I like to feel I’m contributing to something outside my household and I thrive on conquering goals someone else has set for me, particularly the ones that seem absurd.  I’m a nicer woman when I’m learning new things and soaking up brand new technology, sharing it with others.  I went back to work a few months after Jude was born and I didn’t have much of a problem with it.

But Summer.  Her giant eyes and soft tiny fingers and the way she smiles from the crook of my arm.  Her tolerant allowance of Nolan’s constant face in her face, of Jude’s insistence that she have Doggie on her forehead.  Her total trust that I will be there, that I’m going nowhere. The fact that she is my last baby, my tiny and unforseen girl.  My perfect, perfect girl.

It makes me a bit crazy, the welling over of this guilt, the pervasiveness of the pit in my stomach because Corey went back to work a few days after Summer was born and I know it’s different, he doesn’t have milk and he didn’t brew her in his abdomen etc. but why the hell is it just so easy for him to balance the work and the home?  To be our co pilot in the evenings and the weekends and for that to be OK and fine.  I want to have his confidence in his priorities and decisions.  And I can’t.  Because I’m a woman and because that guilt is built in, either way. I know. I know.

It doesn’t make it suck any less.

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The Fault in My Abs

 

If I lie on my back first thing in the morning, there’s a large crater discernible in the middle of my body.  It’s basically a pit, a hole created by my babies, widened and deepened by pregnancies in 2011 and 2013.  You can stick a whole index finger in there, or a carrot stick if you wanted to.  It’s not pretty, and by the end of the day the crater fills with food, and it looks like I’m 6 months pregnant again.  That’s because my ab muscles have thinned with all the babies, and there’s nothing keeping my innards from protruding outwards.  This is diastisis recti, and I’ve written about it before, here, here and here. 

I still get emails from women who struggle with coming to grips that their bodies have inexorably changed after baby and reject the whole too bad, so sad, you’ve had a baby suck up your war wounds  mantra that seems to be pervasive in popular culture.  They kind of seem to know that they don’t have to just live with a flabby protruding stomach because they’ve given birth, and I’ve done my best to respond to every message but just today at the gym I talked to a lady who did not know that the giant hole in her midsection was not something she just needed to sigh about and accept.

I knew my abs would separate further after I repaired them post Jude:  I am close to 40, after all, and I’m tall, and I had some pretty tight muscles in there that were bound to get strained again with all the back-to-back pressure.  But I also know I can close that shit up again, and even though it’s vain and stupid and a propos of nothing of real value in my life…dammit I loved my 6 pack.  And I’ll get it back.

For women who land here by googling “what the hell can I do about my giant post partum ab seperation” and “exercises for fixing diastisis”, here’s the thing.

1) Give yourself 5 months post partum to return to normal.

2) Healing the gap requires patient, unexciting exercises that include kegels and knee slides.  It’s not exciting, at all. But you need to do them every goddamned day, for at least 15 minutes.  If you can do them for 60 days in a row, I promise your abs will start to come together again.  This video does a good job of showing you what you need to do.

3) Avoid situps of any kind immediately post partum.  They will make your gap wider and worse.

4) Situps are actually really not good for you at all.  Plank or do kegels instead.

I am now 8 weeks postpartum and will be posting pics every second week to monitor my progress toward rectified abs. 

I like it, pants

Two year olds are a lethal combination of stubborn determination and ill equipped faculties and my days are mostly spent preventing Jude from carrying out a horrifying variety of ill-conceived ideas and if he was a client or a friend I’d have left him to self-destruct eons ago but it’s so weird, how genetically pre-disposed we are to loving the creatures that come from inside us. Even when they’re totally, unflinchingly crazy.

Jude perplexes me everyday with his frantic, irrefutable Jude-ness and I remember the naive woman who thought that Nolan is sweet-tempered and sensitive because of something measured she did and I want to wipe the smug off her face and tell her the whole truth: you get what you get and you don’t get upset.

Every morning Jude and I go through an overflowing laundry basket of his clean clothes and he decides what he wants to wear.  Invariably he tries on three pairs of striped velcro shorts and three shirts that look exactly the same and then takes them off again, getting his nubby legs stuck in one leg hole or his shirt inside out and we do this again and again for half an hour until I am sticky with sweat and heaving with frustration.  Finally, he declares, “I like it, pants,” and we are ready to start the day. 

It’s been almost a decade since I was last home with small human beings and I’d forgotten about the frazzled, hard-breathing pace of nothingness that infuses the days.  There are diaper blow outs in Superstore and heartstopping brand new smiles, there are tiny hands grazing my chest and scrambled egg remnants in the bookcase.  There are temper tantrums in the worst possible places, and a strange, inexplicable emotion that hovers around me: gratitude for what I am doing, guilt that I crave a bit more.  There are no tangible benefits to this job, just long-term perks that are fleeting and often dampened with all the tired and the crumbs. 

I like them, my babies.  But I’m grateful for the past experience that allows me to understand the fleetingness of this crazy, frenetic, banal phase I’m in right now.

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If I permitted it, he’d scooter down a mountainside and crash into a murder of crows, igniting feathers and cursing us all.

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(Corn in the back of a Hot Wheels truck because, Two.)

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(We do an awful lot of walking in circles in forests, until Jude’s legs tire and I carry him in one arm and a scooter in another and baby on the front and pray for no tantrums until I can deposit him on the doorstep)

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(Thank god for Nolan.  Who is sweet and kind and obedient with absolutely nothing to do with me)

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It’s worth it.