Posted on | June 7, 2013 | No Comments
For once, I’m referring not to the f*** word, but to ‘fat’. For today, home is a three-letter word.
This is kind of difficult to write, which is why I have delayed almost two weeks in posting it. I met a woman, a blogger and ‘body positive’ activist. Her name is Jes.
She’s fat, and doesn’t mind describing herself as such. Size 22, to be precise. We spent almost two hours discussing body image, size, fatness, weight. (I was interviewing her for 3 Story Magazine.) And then, the next day, with her most celebrated blog post yet, she gained worldwide media attention for her clever poke at Abercrombie & Fitch and its apparently size-ist CEO, Mike Jeffries.
But that’s another story, and one you can read about here.
My story is this: I over-ate for about a week afterwards. I’ve had a weight problem almost since I can remember. Sadly, I was not blessed with the skinny genes of my parents and brother. And because I was slightly plump, I gave up with trying to be average-sized (skinny was never on the menu for me) and did a lot of emotional overeating and academic over-achieving instead. Hence weight gains, and from there, diets. Ridiculous ones. Liquid diets, no fat diets. Decades of them. And you already know the result: weight losses and gains in equal measure.
Weight Watchers has been a savior to me. With the exception of these last couple of years, and a depression problem, WW has kept my weight pretty average and on track for about the last decade.
Still, the emotional overeating is there, and it doesn’t take much (a stressful day, not enough loving from Hubby) to trigger it again. That chat with Jes took the biscuit, though. I think I was using it as an excuse to stuff my face. Feminist thoughts and a f***-it-all attitude, similar to what she has, took over… but only for a little while. Much as part of me would love to stick a finger up to the western world’s obsession with female size and diets, I prefer myself when I’m not fat.
And there is another, more pressing, factor here: my daughter, Sweetpea. She is twelve and almost the same weight as me. She has an eating disorder, has done since she started eating solid food. She is clinically obese. She seeks comfort from food. She adores eating, is happy both thinking about and consuming food, and is unhappy and stressed if she thinks it’s being held back from her.
Half of me wants to ‘fix’ it, and I have tried. There have been professionals – a nutritionist, an endocrinologist, a therapist. There is a small library of books. There have been eating programs ranging in theme, from eat-all-you-want-and-let’s-try-to-curb-this-obsession to count-calories-and-get-your-weight-down-cos-this-is-dangerous.
I am in the land of therapy, medical help and self-help. I have investigated and practiced many, many things. And yet her obsession for food and eating continues, albeit to a lesser, more manageable, extent (although that’s maybe just me being in a bit of denial). And I, more and more, say to hell with it. I celebrate the fact that she is beautiful and confident and, most importantly, healthy. And I celebrate the fact that there are now people like Jes as role models.
But still. Still…
Would I prefer that Sweetpea was skinny or average or just a little plump? Yes. Just as I would prefer that I didn’t have to count Points and choose chips and wine over a full meal, because Weight Watchers doesn’t ‘allow’ you to have it all. Just as I would prefer to not have to weigh in somewhere and pay strangers money to see a scale fall so sloooowly each week that it hardly seems worth doing.
There is not an end, a conclusion, to this blog entry. And that’s because there is not an obvious solution to my, and Sweetpea’s, problems. The pendulum swings for me, from a “f***-it-all” attitude a la Jes, to the other extreme, where I am blissful in my Size 8 jeans and soaking up the “You look great!” comments from other women (because, let’s face it, men barely notice). And it settles, for the most part, somewhere in the middle, a place that says (and I repeat this to Sweetpea so many times): We come in all shapes and sizes. Let’s just try and be healthy and happy.
Posted on | May 24, 2013 | 1 Comment
“You’re no fun,” says Munchkin, tears in his eyes. And while it’s not news to me, this time, man, it hits a nerve.
I’m at my office computer, glued to the very same screen I’m glued to now. He has come skipping in to talk about Water Day at his school. He’s got his swim shorts and UV-protective shirt on. He’s jazzed about messing about with hoses and buckets and mud, and he wants to share it.
I, on the other hand, barely glance in his direction and just utter “Uh-huh”, “Mmm” and a mock-excited “I know!”
Then his head falls into his hands and he says it: “You’re no fun, even on water day.”
I stop, take him onto my lap, kiss him and tell him: “You’re right. I have to work on that, don’t I?”
I love my work. I feel privileged to be able to do what I do. Journalism and P.R. feed my creative, curious, people-loving, personality perfectly. But sometimes I love it too much. I was brought up in a household with high work standards and strong work ethics. My brother and I had part-time jobs from our mid teens. We picked fruit for extra pocket money (so did our parents) from an early age. I am grateful for that. Hard graft is a beautiful thing, and I want my kids to think the same. But it’s a double-edged sword when you don’t know when to stop. A therapist told me I treat myself like a factory. She may be right.
Now, thanks to my iPhone, I find it hard to escape work. I am ‘on’ 24/7. I can check emails and update the four (yeh, count ‘em) Facebook pages I am in charge of any time I want. I can think of a feature idea and go to Google to start researching it that very second. Smart phones prompted a conversation last night among a few of us mothers. We shared tips on how to separate work from home, how to take time answering an email or text message from your boss without them thinking you were a slacker. Because if you offer yourself 24/7, like I do, then that’s what’s expected of you.
Changes are afoot for me. I am working my notice at a job I still love and adore. I truly am ambivalent about leaving. But between that and the increasing success of 3 Story Magazine, other freelance commitments and a house to run, something had to give. It seemed that I turned around and suddenly Sweetpea was almost a teenager, and Munchkin was about to wrap up kindergarten, and where did that time go? Once, I asked my Gran Drummond what was her biggest regret. The last few years of her life, we exchanged long, ruminating letters, mostly consisting of me asking for her memories and advice. This was a woman with a brilliant brain, who ran a business, was comfortable financially, owned some gorgeous properties in her lifetime, and traveled. What did she regret? “That I didn’t spend more time with my children.” Work can be wonderful, she said, but you mustn’t let it take over.
That’s hard for me, seeing as work is a huge part of my identity. But I’d rather be remembered as the mum who made her little boy giggle and danced with her daughter, than the mum glued to her phone.
Posted on | May 12, 2013 | 1 Comment
It seemed fitting that I resurrect the blog (neglected for several months now) on Mother’s Day. I had high hopes. I would catch readers up on the kiddos turning six and 12 (yikes!), me making a job switch, Hubby’s new employment, and hopefully without much drama or swearing.
Heck, there might even be glimmers of domestic bliss! I could throw in some cute anecdotes about my kids, talk about what a great Sunday brunch my Hubby does, share the note Sweetpea wrote me.
Maybe the whole theme of my blog could start shifting, away from four-letter-word-ness and more towards Gwyneth-at-home-style Mother Earth-ness.
But really, who was I kidding?
The day started well. The famiglia let me stay in bed till 8.30, and I woke to Sweetpea bearing a tray with a mug of my fave Earl Grey, a tall vase of flowers, and the Sunday New York Times. Perfect! Then she placed it on my chest (why, oh why?) and the vase and tea toppled.
No worries though. We laughed it off, and got ready for a long dog walk. We pretended we lived in a copy of Parenting magazine or a commercial for life insurance, acting out a scene where Hubby and Munchkin test-drove a new go-kart down the hill in the park. (Yes, he may not have filed his taxes, but my man made time to create a go-kart from scratch. But that’s another blog entry.)
Sweetpea tolerated the outing, but I could tell by the scowl on her face and the iPod plugged into her ears that she was really wanting to scream, “OMG, this is, like, soooo lame!”
Croissants, scrambled eggs and salmon, more tea, and orange juice awaited back home (take that, Gwyneth! yeh, we went carb crazy). And then this:
Me: “Can I have the big mug [of tea] please?”
Him: “No, get a big mug yourself.”
Kids: “ Mom, I need a fork. Mom, cut this croissant in half. We want frozen yogurt!”
Me: “Did I get it wrong, or is it in fact Mother’s Day?”
Then came the text from M, mother of Munchkin’s friend: “Happy Mother’s Day! Need to tell you guys, J has lice!! Check your little guys’ heads just to be on the safe side.”
We did, and there they were: the nits. And Hubby and I went into overdrive. Flashlight out, nit comb ready, bedding being pulled off the beds before Munchkin could utter, “Hey I haven’t finished my croissant yet.”
And with that, dear readers, Mother’s Day was over. It turned from almost-an-insurance-commercial, with a few fights among the actors behind the scenes, into mega laundry day, spraying-of-mattresses-and-pillows-with-lice-control-solution day, smothering-of-Munchkin’s-head-with-tea-tree-oil-and-olive-oil day (it works, I swear.)
We did it calmly, however. There was no panic. There was no swearing. We’ve been through the lice thing before, remember?
OK, I lied a bit. I am swearing inside my head. A lot. Because, in truth, I’m feeling sorry for myself. Can I please have a Mother’s Day do-over?
Posted on | January 29, 2013 | No Comments
* With profuse apologies to Talking Heads for bastardizing rather a good song title.
They were horrible today, my kids. It was as if they’d planned it.
Her: “Tell you what, I’ll be the evil one in the morning, and you be Lucifer tonight, OK?”
Him: “Yeah, and really wind her up, yeah?”
Her: “Yeah! Till she really shouts at the top of her voice. Till she shouts so hard it’s funny.”
I gently awoke Sweetpea with a tousle of her curls and a quiet “Hey honey, you’re running late. Into the shower with you, come on!”
The eyes opened, the horns came out, and she was Evil Teenager (only a year to go, but who’s counting? She’s there already in mood and disposition.)
“I had a shower yesterday!” she bellowed.
“Yes, but a shower every day is good, now that you’re in middle school and everything…”
“I don’t have TIME!!!!!!” Screeching now, and horns growing. “I need to go to student hours and I’m late already!!!!!!”
Student hours is extra tuition time. This is the first Hubby and I have heard that she wants to attend today’s student hours, which begins a whole hour before school starts.
“OK, I’m not liking the fact that the first thing that comes out of your mouth is screaming and arguing. Get in the shower now. It will take you five minutes.”
She gets in the shower. I stand in front of the bathroom mirror drying my hair. I hear a noise that I believe is her practicing the high notes in her latest musical production. But then I realize it’s crying.
“Are you OK?” I ask.
“I’m going to fail my TEST!!! And it’s all YOUR fault!”
“OK, wait. What test? Why is it my fault? And why didn’t you tell us you had a test last night when you were sitting playing with your iPod until 10pm?”
“I forgot to bring home my stuff to REVISE!! That’s why I need to go to student hours!!!!!!! Waaaaaaaaaah.”
Hurray for me that I ‘had to’ leave home early today for a 7.30 am meeting. So I happily handed the situation over to Hubby and went.
Nine hours later I’m picking her up and she comes skipping out, grinning, pecks me on the cheek as she gets in the car, with a “Hi mom!”
“Well aren’t you in a much better mood than when I left you,” I say.
“Oh that. It was just cos it was the morning. I’m fine.” As was the history test, as it happens.
Then we’re home and I’m taking both kids for a bike ride and it’s Munchkin’s turn to turn psycho. First he says he wished he’d worn gloves. Then he says his legs hurt. Then he says his tummy aches. Meanwhile he is going so slow, and I am going so slow because of him, I’d be better off rearranging the cushions on my sofa, for all the exercise I’m getting. Sweetpea is racing ahead (psychotically), shouting behind her: “I have two New Years resolutions. One is to tidy up after myself, the other is to be athletic!”
Munchkin, by contrast, has a face that’s pouting, and tears are stream down it.
I periodically stop and wait for him to catch up. He’s laying it on thick. “I swear my tummy is so sore I’m going to throw up!”
“Go on then,” I say, arms folded. “Go and throw up in that ditch over there. I can wait.”
A woman walks past with her dog and looks at me hatefully like I’m mother-from-hell. No love, I want to tell her. It’s the child that’s from hell.
It is tortuous, excruciating, the worse bike ride ever. (And now I sound like my Luciferous kids). But seriously, it takes us about an hour when we could have done it in half of that. By the time we are on the home stretch, I pedal ahead of Munchkin then stop at our driveway, watching him (a couple of hundred yards away) slowly, as slowly as he possibly can without just falling over because the wheels aren’t moving, making his way along the road.
A card draws up beside him. Great, I think. And now a child molester. Just what I need. It moves along beside him for a few seconds, then speeds up and approaches me. A woman, who is driving, winds down the window.
“Your little boy is crying,” she says.
“I know. He’s not having a great bike ride,” I say, and smile.
“It’s because you’re so far away from him,” she states.
Great, I think. Not a child molester but a busy-body, and the second woman this hour to look at me like I’m Mommy Dearest.
“Actually no, it’s not that. I’m keeping an eye on him. And we live right here. But thank you for your concern,” I say, with a fake smile, one that’s really saying F*** you and mind your own business, lady.
She drives off, Munchkin rides up. He throws himself on the ground, gripping his belly. He and Sweetpea have clearly been sharing acting tips as well as tips on how to be devil children.
“Right then! Best get you inside and sit you on the sofa with a bowl. Then it’s pyjamas and bed for you.”
Within ten seconds of sitting down on the living room sofa, the TV now on, he has made a swift recovery. I storm out the door with the dog, needing no-kid time. Blessed dogs, I think. They’re far less trouble.
And then, as I am writing the paragraph before last, The Mutt trots up to my Persian rug, one of the most expensive items we own, and pees on it. I swear to God. It was as if he’d read this blog entry and thought ‘You can’t end it there! I’ll give you a much better ending. Here!’
So now there are three: two psycho kids and a dog. Anyone want to swap lives?
Posted on | January 6, 2013 | 1 Comment
I’m sorry, but it does. Way too futuristic for my liking. And when I think that kids born in 2000 will turn into teenagers this year, well, that just makes it weirder.
At the age of 45 and a half, I still feel like I’m 16 a lot of the time (and about 12 when I’m with my parents). There are days when I congratulate myself for driving a car in a straight line, or keeping my two children alive without giving them scurvy, or avoiding leaving them at the Post Office because I’ve forgotten they exist.
Which, given their propensity for electronics, is more than likely. They have descended into silence and clicking a lot of the time, their faces lit-up by the glow of, in Sweetpea’s case, a new iPod 5 and, in Munchkin’s case, Sweetpea’s old iPod.
And I have turned into my dad, who used to periodically shout at us to “switch that thing off!” (that thing being the TV) and demand conversation, causing me and my older brother to sneer and say ‘Yeah riiigggght’ under our breaths.
This year Sweetpea will turn 12. She might as well be in her teens already. Hormones are turning her into quite the moody, stomping, huffing and puffing little lady. I find it quite fascinating and more than a little entertaining, which makes her stomp, huff and puff all the more.
And then the huffing and puffing reaches whole new levels when Mummy embarrasses herself, such as last night when I and friend W did a bumping-and-grinding dance to Pulp in the front room, whilst Munchkin and his friend filmed it on my iPhone. See, told you I was too young to be 45 and a half.
I don’t have any New Year’s resolutions as such, which I am considering a healthy sign. Of course it would be nice to shed that extra ten pounds and practice yoga every day. But I’m getting to the stage of just wanting to be healthy, and of being grateful that I’m here. Just before Christmas an old classmate from primary school was found dead in her home, a sudden death that’s still shocking to think about. So I’m here, and happy, and am seizing the proverbial day rather than knocking myself out about being model-thin whilst doing it.
I have no idea what 2013 will bring. How can I when this time last year I didn’t even know I was going to start a new magazine? Life races by these days in happy, and sometimes stressful, fits and starts. Technology is behind us, propelling us forward, making us ever-busier and opening up amazing opportunities. But it makes everything so fast-changing it’s also much more uncertain. This is a world where a job, a career, a marriage, a home can change in the blink of an eye. And sometimes it would be nice to just stop… don’t you think?
It’s telling that my favorite times from the festive period were:
1. Sitting on my bum for two hours and 20 minutes listening to a comedienne and laughing my a*** off. Her name was Paula Poundstone. She entertained me and hundreds more in the glorious old Fox Theatre in Tucson, and she totally screwed up my New Year’s Eve eye make-up.
2. Sledding down the side of a snowy hill. iPhones couldn’t touch the moment, quite literally. I tried to catch us all hurtling down, but we were too fast. Ha! Take that, technology.
3. Watching my first episode ever of Downton Abbey. I know, I’m a little late to the game. But I’m glad I finally checked it out. Hubby and I made up a tray of tea and shortbread, ensconced ourselves on the sofa (kids gone to respective friends’ houses – hurray!) and tumbled headfirst into England, 1912, where much of the discussion surrounded electricity. (“Her ladyship wants to get it in the kitchen. Why on earth would you need it?”)keep looking »