Warning, this could turn into a bit of a rant.
Let’s begin with some facts about me:
- Like most women I know, I’ve spent more time than not being unhappy with my appearance.
- Similarly, I’m as self-conscious about what I look like as the next person.
- I have, at times, allowed my appearance (mainly my weight) limit the things I would participate in.
- At the same time, I’m often willing to look ridiculous. Go fig. (Remember the massive decluttering project at my house? Among other things, it unearthed my ninth grade yearbook.)
- When I started running, I began on the treadmill in the basement because it was the simplest exercise available at 5:00 AM. And nobody would see me there.
- I look a million times (approximately) better than I used to, yet I still suspect that it’s pretty ugly when I run. I simply don’t care anymore.
Okay, so what’s this all adding up to? Some recent events reminded me how I’ve allowed myself to enjoy life more over the last 2+ years. Granted, it’s much more comfortable to enjoy life 60 pounds lighter than you used to be. For example, it’s way more fun to chase your kids around the yard when you don’t fear collapsing or need a breather every seven seconds. But it’s also about just giving myself permission to do things because they’re fun, instead of skipping them because – well, you name it: I’m too old. I’m too heavy. I’m a grown-up. I’m too short. I’m not coordinated enough. I’m not fast enough. I’m not strong enough. I’ll look silly. No one else is doing it. I could keep going. Okay, occasionally, those labels may be useful and accurate. Maybe I AM too fat, old and weak to swing as high as I can at the playground and jump off (like I used to, well into adulthood). But too many times, those labels are just bullshit. So here are the stories:
Fun in the Sun day with Emily’s first grade class the last week of school.
The kids, parents, and teachers all had a blast. I noticed a few of the teachers getting involved in the games with the kids (it might be in their contract:) ), but saw that the parents (mainly moms) were mostly staying on the sidelines. Which is fine. But – lucky us! – our kids are still at the age where they enjoy us joining them in activities. In fact, I think they actually still prefer our participation. We have but a few years before our mere
presence existence humiliates them. Well, maybe I looked ridiculous, and perhaps the other parents thought that joining in would interfere with the kids’ fun, but I jumped in to the limbo.
Luckily (?) one of the other moms captured this and posted it on Facebook for me. I think the kids got a kick out of me. But then schools really hammer manners in kindergarten and first grade, so maybe they were just too polite to tell me I’m an idiot.
Birthday party at the pool.
One of Emily’s “old” friends from daycare had her birthday party at the big local pool. So we knew a bunch of the other kids and their moms. When I asked around ahead of time, the other moms weren’t planning to get into the pool. (There were a bunch of dads in the pool but just me and one other mom.)
Now 1) since I was taking both of my girls with me, I didn’t really have a choice but to swim. Emily is a great swimmer, but Cora hasn’t yet learned to swim without the aid of her “floaty” (vest), so I have to get in with her. And 2) I think that, among the other moms, there was at least an element of wanting to just hang out poolside and enjoy some adult conversation – which I can totally relate to. I might have stayed out of the pool to talk to the other moms if I’d had that option, but I was mainly thinking, “Woo-hoo! Free swim!”
Do I like myself in a swimsuit? Hell no! Do I simply look better in a swimsuit than the other moms? Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha! Not even close. But I like to swim. So swim I did. (I also learned, risking great humiliation – not to mention a trip to the ER – that I can still do a back flip off the diving board! Yay me! Too bad I don’t have a picture of that – it must have been a sight to behold.)
Remember up above where I noted that the kiddoes actually like it when we do stuff with them at this age? Well, it wasn’t just my kids who wanted to play with me. A couple of the other little girls came over to play with my girls and me, introducing themselves (e.g., “Hi, I’m Jane, who are you?”) and inserting themselves into our activities as only kids can. I’m certain they didn’t need me to enjoy their time in the pool, but they actually seemed eager to interact with a grownup at the party. And quite frankly, making some new, little friends (even just for the duration of the party) kind of made my day.
Aaanyway. (I’m going to write a short post one day. Really.) Here are my own personal “life’s too short” to fuss so much about what you look like tips:
- Not crazy about your smile? Smile anyway. I’d bet the rent you look better than you do with a scowl.
- Like to swim but don’t like yourself in a swimsuit? Swim anyway. No one’s even looking at you because they’re too worried about what they look like.
- Like to dance but think you’re not good at it? Dance anyway. Who cares? Eye of the beholder and all that….
- Want to try something new but fear you’ll suck at it? Try it anyway. You probably will suck at it! At first. But you can still enjoy it. And you will get better.
- Have only pictures of your kids and your spouse because 1) you’re always the photographer, and 2) you just hate to get your picture taken? Get into the picture. Years from now, your kids will look at those pictures and wonder where the hell you were. You’ll all wish you were included in those mementos. More on why moms need to stay in the picture here. (Seriously, click that already.)
Do you agree/disagree? What would you add to the list?