Hiding Behind My Clothes

After having my first son my body was stretch beyond comfort. Lucky to have such a wonderful bundle of job I was left with those unlucky stretch marks. They literally covered every inch of my body and I felt like I was ruined for life. I could no longer flaunt around the beach in my super cute bikinis. I not only had to wear a one piece bathing suit, I also had to wear long swimming trunks to hide my legs. The serious uncomfortableness of being so marked up led me on a journey to be beautiful again. I set out on a mission to be the first person in the world to remove all of my stretch marks. I was sick and tired of being covered up from head to toe on the hot summer days. I am going to share with you the top five things that I tried to remove these tiger marks. I would not recommend anyone try these things, this is just my personal experience.

stretch marks

 

I Tried To Remove My Stretch Marks:

-I thought if would be a good idea to use sand paper to sand my skin. Note: That was a very bad idea and I actually made the area look worse! It is really insane how far a person would go for beauty.

-Used a skin peel to attempt to peel away the bad skin and promote the growth of new skin cells. I have read many reviews of this method working for me. However, my skin did feel a little tighter and smoother but it looked the same.

-I have literally tried almost every stretch mark removal cream on the market. To my avail none of them ever worked. I was consistent with my regimen and I never had the satisfaction of change. It did feel good to have very moisturized skin.

-Derma rolling had to be one of the most painful things that I tried thus far. It felt like I was swimming in a thorn bush. After done my skin would be red and swollen. I just didn’t feel like this method was worth enduring the pain that accompanied it.

-To reduce the appearance of the stretch marks I attempted to tattoo over the area. I thought that if I covered them up nobody would be able to tell. Sadly, I made things worst. The ink was lighter in the areas where the stretch marks were. The tattoo drew more attention to the area exposing my ugly marks even more.

After trying everything under the sun nothing worked for me. I may consider laser treatments one day if my financial situation allows it. I would just hate to invest so much money into a treatment that will have no effect on me. I did a lot of research and the reviews are very mixed and bias. I think I will just pray everyday that a scientific all natural miracle stretch mark removal cream will be invented. Until them I will continue to hide behind my clothes.

 

 

This isn’t all I am

Sometimes I love this space. Hard.

I love that I can connect with other mothers who I’d probably never cross paths with, stories I would never share, women I would never, otherwise know.

I love that I can share stories about my kids, post pictures for family and friends. Pictures and moments that I can look back on that make me smile months and years later.

I love that I can make you laugh, make you hold back tears, make you sigh because you can relate to a moment I describe.

I love that it gives me a place to talk about just how damn much l love those kids and being a mom.

I love that I can also whine about how those damn kids are making me crazy and how there are parts of motherhood that are kicking me right in the ass.

But.

But sometimes I worry about this space and what it says about me.  That the glimpse I give you into one, albeit the largest, piece of my life might make someone think that that’s all there is.

I try not to talk about work much. Mostly because I rather like having a paycheck. But also because it’s not appropriate or even that interesting.

But once in a while, usually when things are “happening” in my professional life, I worry about a current or future boss or coworker would feel if (when) they come across this blog.

Will my rants about potty training and babies who don’t want to nap look like excessive whining?  (It’s not.)

Will my love letters to my kids make me look like I’ve lost my ambition for growth in the corporate world and make them wonder if I’m pining to be a stay at home mom?  (I’m not.)

Does being able to write a funny post about moments I fail at parenting translate to a person who can also develop strategy, plan logistics and write speeches for big wigs?  (I can.)

Does a click through to my Twitter feed send up a red flag that I spend entirely too much time on social media?   (Um….maybe.)

Thinking about those things makes me feel like I’m thinking too much about who is reading and less about the person writing.  And it also tends to make me a little quiet.

I’m trying to find a way to bring a little bit of that piece of me here. Because it’s important. Because it’s part of who I am.  I just haven’t completely figured that out yet.

Am I crazy? Am I the only working mom who feels this way? 

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago this week, I met my husband.  He’ll tell you we met a few months earlier and that I paid no attention to him.  And, well, he’s not wrong.  He’s not right, but he’s not wrong.

Fresh out of college, I was working my first job at a tourism promotion agency. With a passion for media and special events, the all star football game that we were planning was right up my alley.  The game was my chance to shine. To show that I could do this professional girl in heels thing.  In April we held a news conference for local media and invited all of that year’s coaches to attend.

Craig was a coach.

His side of the story is that he tried to talk to me at the news conference and I blew him off.  To that I say, “whatever, dude. I was busy.”

Next up was a practice in early May, followed by dinner with the team at a local restaurant.  At the table, I was charmed and entertained by an older, retired coach who told jokes and made us giggle through the meal.  Again, I didn’t talk to Craig much, but I did in fact notice him.

A few phone calls between May and the week of the game asking him to “please for the love of all things Holy, send in your paperwork.”  And then noticing that his emergency contact was his mother (check one – not married) but that he wasn’t living with her (check two – not still living at home).  By the time the last week of June rolled around, I was… intrigued.

At the first practice, I tried to flirt a little.  (Maybe not the most professional thing to do, so let’s just say I was being friendly.)  He was cold in return.

Fine then.

The next day, he was a little more chipper and maybe, just maybe, flirted back a tad.  At the end of the day, the coaches asked if we could get tickets to the local minor league baseball game.  I agreed and asked how many tickets they needed.  Enough for all five coaches.

I got seven tickets.  Five for the coaches, one for a co-worker of mine and one for me.  We agreed to meet them at their hotel in a couple of hours and we would all go to the game together.

This was it.  I was going to charm him over beers and baseball.  I went home, put on a cute American Eagle skirt and tank top, curled my hair and dabbed on lip gloss.  My heart was pounding and I was on pins and needles with excitement.

We got stopped at the red light just outside the hotel.  I checked my hair in the mirror, giggled to my friend that maybe someday I’d remember this game as a BIG IMPORTANT MOMENT and looked up to see a white Jeep Wrangler approaching the intersection.

“Hey that looks like Craig’s Jeep,”  she said.

“It is.  Oh, someone is with him.  It must be Coach Sam.”

And then as he crossed the intersection we noticed that no, it wasn’t Coach Sam.  It was Coach Craig.

And a date.

I spent the first few innings of the game shooting daggers at the back of Craig’s head while sipping my beer.  When he went for a refill and asked if I wanted one, I mumbled a disgruntled no, even though mine was empty and I did, in fact, want another beer.  When he left because it started to rain and the top was off his Jeep, he left a note on my car for the rest of us to meet him at the bar.  I very maturely threw the note away.

I was crushed.  With absolutely no right to be, I was crushed.  And pissed.  And maybe a little young.

The week continued, I gave him the cold shoulder for a few days and players and coaches started laughing and joking about the “cousin” he brought to the game.  A few pointed interrogations of him and less than obvious (so I thought) questioning of the players on the team, I found out that the girl was a friend/date.  But not a girlfriend.

Okay then.

A few days later, mid-week, when he asked me if I wanted to go out sometime, I coyly answered, “maybe.”  Oh yes, people.  I was SO very good at playing hard to get.

The night of the game, after getting admonished by a coworker about being unprofessional (pssh, whatever), all bets were off.  We were no longer working on a project together and we were free to date.

So we did.

It’s not home

The room is big and nice. Nothing fancy. A big bed with a two-inch-thick comforter.  The kind that almost makes you want to run across the room and bounce on it.  The adjoining bathroom has sample-sized shampoos and lotions, which makes me happy because mine are still sitting on bathroom counter, at home.

I sigh and place my bag on the bed.  Traveling feels weird without Craig.

After dinner, I make the calls.  The kids are fine. No tears at bedtime. Perfect angels all night long for their grandmother.

Heh. They could do that for me once in a while.

I slip under the covers for sleep.

Many hours, many toss and turns and many wakes up later, I throw back the covers and walk to the shower.

The water dances on my shoulders and neck. The shampoo and conditioner smell a little fruity for my taste, but they’ll do.  I wonder if the kids are up yet and if it’s too early to call.

I take a little longer in the shower, because, well, I can.

Rubbing lotion onto my damp skin, I see the scar on my abdomen.  I wonder if I’ll ever apply lotion without thinking of my son and his birth.  I decide no, I will always think of him when I see that five-inch scar.

A call to my husband and a text from my mom tells me the kids are still sleeping and doing great.  My babies are across the state and I breathe a deep sigh, knowing they are safe and sound.

I get ready for the day, drying my hair, applying makeup and tying my dress while practicing answers to questions that I’m not sure will be asked.

My gut tells me this is a big meeting.  My head is excited.  My heart is torn.

I notice that the corner of my lower lip is tucked between my teeth. I am nervous. I feel antsy.  I’m not leaving for a little while yet.

I need to write.

So I did.

I don’t even know what my point was

The voices are raised so that we can hear each other over the sound coming from the TV, the sizzling of hamburger browning and the fan that keeps my smoke alarm from screaming.  Chessa is yelling to be heard, the adults in the room are in a heated conversation and Cole is starting to cry from his high chair.  I move from the stove to my baby, offering more chunks of banana while starting to cook the potatoes.

I feel a familiar tension begin in the indentation where my head meets my neck.

It’s quiet now. Just the two of us in the bathroom. The baby splashes and plays and giggles.  I rest my head, now throbbing, on the cool acrylic of the bathtub and close my eyes for a second, just listening.  Downstairs the voices are muffled but still heated. Phone calls. Texts. More conversation angry over the unfairness of it all.

I watch him play, water dripping from his eyelashes and gummy grins at his reflection and the headache starts to ease, just a little.

His head rests on my shoulder now, a chubby hand at the side of my neck curled around pieces of hair that have shaken free from my ponytail.  He smells like lavender and baby. His legs cross at the ankles and curl in my lap, a reminder of how big he’s getting.  I rock a little slower, listening to his breath and the hum of the humidifier.  Comforted by the weight of him sleeping against me, I think about my fears, my angers and my wishes for him.

The jersey is behind me, draped on the back of the glider. Last night he pour your heart out with things i cant saygrasped it as he drifted off and I had to pry it away when I laid him down.  It’s not about the jersey, I suppose.  It’s about the team, about being part of something bigger.  It’s about learning that it’s OK to fall as long as you go down together. It’s about learning that your team has your back and stands by you.  It’s about learning that the sacrifices – and the sacrifices will be many if he’s doing it right – will be worth it.

I want that for him. As much as I hate it sometimes, I want that for him.

 

I get that this post isn’t actually telling you anything… but it’s as close to pouring my heart out as I can get right now.  (How’s THAT for melodramatic?) 

Just … drive.

Behind the wheel, I tap the beat from the radio onto the leather of the steering wheel.  My mind is buzzing from this topic to that one, the thoughts rolling and swirling and with it my my emotions from anger to frustration to hurt to whatever that feeling is when someone you love is hurt and nothing you can do can fix it.

I punch the radio dial. I’m done with that song. I need something else.

I punch it again and again. Until finally a song I can turn up. One that fits my mood and the butterflies in my stomach. One I can lose myself in.

Moments later, I drive up beside a tractor trailer that makes my soccer mom SUV look tiny.  I hold the breath in my mouth for a moment as I decide whether to merge behind or try to pass.

A memory transports me back to my childhood, watching my father back a similar and just as big truck into our driveway and park it in a space that took me four or five tries to get my mom’s Chevy Beretta into – and I’m reminded that truck drivers are far better drivers than me.  So I pass the truck with an acceleration of speed and a confidence that he won’t run me over.

As I watch the speedometer creep up, I think back again.

I was 16 and was asked to take him to pick up his truck.  The dump truck was in a constant need of repairs and it seemed I was always being asked to pick him up or drop him off at the repair shop. Sometimes the ability to flex my new driving skills was fun, but this time I was put out, as the detour to take him home would make me late for the varsity baseball game.

Driving down the two-lane highway, I punched the gas. A few miles over the speed limit and no terse warning from my father, I pushed it a little more. I passed a car or two.  In a hurry but also testing his limits.  Waiting to be told to slow down so I could retort with a reminder about how I was doing him a favor in the first place.

Instead, the ride was silent until when we walked in the door he stretched out his hand and waggled his fingers.  “Keys.”

Crap.

Fifteen years later, in the driver’s seat of my SUV, I grin at the memory and think about how I totally deserved those two weeks of lost driving priveleges (and probably a swift kick in the ass) and I slow down.  Just a tad.

Letters to Cole {Month 8}

Cole Michael,

Hey buddy. Slow down.  No, really.  Slow. Down.

In the last month you’ve added crawling, fighting with your sister and pulling yourself up on furniture to your list of “things I can do without breaking a sweat.”  And Momma’s not ready for that.  Certainly I’m not ready to be chasing two kids in two different directions, so your newfound mobility scares me. I turn around for half a second and when I turn back, you’re trying to pull yourself up by using a small rocking chair for leverage.

Here’s a tip, kiddo: That’s not going to work. You’re going to fall.

I don’t know if it’s because you’re a boy or because you’re the second child or if it’s just what everyone says about every child being different, but you are getting yourself into places that your sister never did.  I lose count of the number of times I find you stuck under a kitchen chair or half behind the couch reaching for power cords or under the desk hitting your head.  I see lots of bumps and bruises in our future.

I keep telling people that I’m shocked that I’m breaking up fights between you and your sister already. For the love of God, buddy.  You’re 8 months and she’s 25 months old. Isn’t it a little early for this? But if for just a second I can be honest (and I’ll deny this later, I’m sure) I’m really happy to see you grabbing back when she’s snatching your toys from your chubby little hands.  For a few months, you’d just look at me. Kind of wide eyed, heave a big sigh and then move onto something else.  Now, you don’t even glance myt way before you tighten your grip, crawl after her or just give out a big ole cry that will get her in trouble and get you your toy back.

Well played, my boy. Well played.

Oh buddy. There’s nothing so bad that can’t be made better with your smiles. No feeling in the world better than when you drift off to sleep in my arms at night. And nothing that sounds better than you and Chessa giggling at each other.

We love you, kiddo.

Triage.

I lift the babies out of their cribs, trying to keep the hurry out of my voice and my eyes off the clock.  Cole is so anxious to be held that he bangs his head on the crib rails trying to pull himself up. “Just a second, buddy,” I say as I turn off the humidifier and stand Chessa on the floor.  Quickly his excitement turns to brokenhearted whimpers as I’m just not getting him fast enough.

I place him on my left hip, he curls into my chest and pops his thumb in his mouth.  Just as quickly, he’s pushing away and trying to dive down to the floor and his big sister.

I tuck him back in and lean down to scoop up my girl.

“TWO KIDS!” she announces, giggling at being carried with her brother.

Thank goodness only two, I think sometimes.  I’m out of arms.

As we head to the steps, she remembers her Dora dolls.  “NEED DORAS!”

We go back to her room.  All three of us.

The Dora dolls gathered, she decides she wants to walk down the steps alone.  I hold Cole, doing his best to free his twenty pound body from my arms, while standing in front of her on the steps. We argue over who is going to carry the Doras.  She cries and pouts when I take them away and tell her she needs her hands to hold onto the rail and remind her that she fell a few days ago.

Downstairs, I make quick decisions about which kid to diaper and dress first.  The act of getting dressed infuriates my boy and while he cries and tries to flip himself off the couch, Chessa stands in the living room taking off her pajamas.  I catch Cole and place him back on a diaper, my hand on his chest holding him in place.

He cries.

Chessa frees her arms from her pink monkey jammies but can’t quite get it off her feet.

She cries.

Oh my heavens, you two. Cut me a break.

I pull the shirt over his head while talking Chessa through the foot extraction.

One baby down.  One toddler to go.

I place Cole on the floor with Elmo.  He beelines for Dora instead, almost reaching the big-headed doll before his sister snatches her away.

“NOOOO COOOOOLLLE! DATS MINE!”

Cole cries again.  Louder this time.

I decide he needs to eat and start to make a bottle.  Chessa, in nothing but her diaper, pulls at my pants.  “WANT SOMFING MOMMY.”

I toss a Poptart at her and tell her to try to put her shirt on while I feed her brother. For a moment things are calm.

Then?

Chessa needs me to draw a spider on the Magna Doodle.  “MOMMY’s NOT BUSY,” she protests when I tell her my hands are full.  She points to the free hand that’s tucked under Cole’s back.  “USE DAT HAND”.

I draw spiders with my left hand, while holding a bottle with my right.

Finally, Cole is done eating. Chessa’s spider has been drawn.  And with the few minutes before I need to leave for work, I can move onto getting her changed and dressed.

Maybe she’ll accept the clothes I picked, or maybe the purple sweatpants will send her into hysterics.  Maybe Cole will be happy to play, maybe he’ll be fussy and clingy and I’ll be trying to hold him on my lap while tying Chessa’s shoes.

Triage.  It’s all traige.

This mother’s prayer

Dear God,

Please take care of my children.

I pray for a lot of things, but if you ever have to choose, always choose them.  Please keep them safe. Keep them healthy. Keep them happy.

Give them faith that everything will be OK, then help to make sure that everything ends up being OK.  Give them courage. Give them trust. Give them the ability to laugh, to cry, to feel.

Surround them always with people who love them. Put people in their lives who have their best interests at heart. When their feelings are hurt, when their hearts ache because someone let them down, when their eyes swell up with tears; help them to learn from the experience, see that it wasn’t all for nothing and help them move forward.

And for the people who hurt my babies, God.  Please keep them far away from me.

Please be the voice inside my children’s heads when they don’t know which choice to make. Help them to always choose to be nice and be good.

Help them to chase their dreams. Help them to stand when they fall.  Help them to never give up.

Everything else will fall into place.

Help us to be the parents they deserve. To greet them with smiles and open arms, to lose count of the number of kisses shared throughout the day. To pay attention when their little voices speak to us.

Those voices are so very special. And they carry the thoughts of these two pieces of my heart. Help me to always listen. Really, really listen.

Be with Craig and me as we remember that we created these two people. And when we did that we made them a promise. We promised them a family.  Help us to remember each other as we carry this family forward.

And, please. If I can be selfish, please give me another day with my family. I will ask this of you every night for as long as I live.

But they need me. And I need them. And they need each other.

We are a family, the four of us.  We are a team. We fit together.

And we need that fit. We need the other six shoulders to lean on, the other three smiles, the other hands to hold.

Give us another day, Lord. And another one after that.