Day 20: Vulnerability, Mermaids, and Jeans

Tonight I am celebrating embracing vulnerability, which managed to show up several The Sirenways throughout the day. It began with my 13-year-old mistakingly getting dressed wearing my jeans. As she realized that they were a size too big, but not unwearable, she begged me to borrow them for the day. Normally I let my girls borrow my clothes whenever they want, but I found myself telling her a very quick “No!” When she asked why, I instantaneously answered in full honesty, “Because I only have a few pairs that fit me right now!” Eeek! Did I just say that? Did I just admit I those were my fat jeans?!?

I could see the look of her concern in her eyes. “Are you ok, Mom? What’s going on.” I had just walked into the very discussion I had been trying to avoid with both of my daughters; the “I’ve gained 20 plus pounds and those are one of two pairs of fat jeans that I own. Oh and I’m struggling with my overweight body” conversation.

I was so terrified of sharing my own body image issues out of fear they too would take this burden on. I thought I was somehow be protecting my girls. But guess what, not only do they both have body image issues, they both suffer from emotional eating.  Go figure!

The recognition of a pattern that started with my own mother caused me to launch into a seriously vulnerable moment. To this day, I still harbor some resentment toward my mother for hiding various truths from me. I felt that I would have benefited from her knowledge over the years, but instead I inherited shame.

It was right in that moment that I knew I had to break the pattern and be vulnerable for the sake of my daughter and for me. Hiding my Truth from her was in no way shape or form protecting her from the struggles almost all women have. If anything, it may have made her feel more alone and  therefore worse.

On our way to school, I shared with her that I had gained weight and that I was mostly frustrated with how my body felt. I told her that I too have to work on body acceptance, and we shared our sadness of the fact that there was absolutely no chocolate in the house.

I mostly emphasized that as an adult, it isn’t uncommon to have weight fluctuation, and I knew that I wasn’t supporting my body with a healthy diet or enough exercise this winter. We talked about our most challenging emotional eating moments and started to brainstorm ways to support each other.

I feel horrible for passing emotional eating onto my daughter, but at least now, I can be vulnerable with her and share that I am nowhere near perfect, and I also struggle at times. It’s a delicate balance when dealing with body image, but lying just doesn’t cut it. Kids always seem to pick up on any major issues whether they are discussed or not.

The second and third place that vulnerability made an appearance today was in my painting and drawing classes. Both classes consisted of critiques of our last few assignments, and let me tell you, there is nothing more terrifying then displaying your art for open discussion. There is something so raw and exposed about this whole process.

However, I am extremely proud of myself for putting it all out on display, especially in my figure painting class, where we work from live models. In one of my paintings, I had screwed-up the legs and didn’t have the model to work from to complete the painting. So, I turned her into a mermaid. I flat out told the class what had happened, and was commended for my imagination as well as figuring out a perfectly logical solution.

My teacher explained that she would rather us add something in than leave the painting in a place that we were unhappy with. It felt authentic to share my process with the class. Perhaps it would help someone else in the future. Either way, I am glad that I mentioned it rather than smugly pretending that it was my creative intention all along. It was my Truth.

I used to think being vulnerable was telling truths about yourself in the form of stories from the past. This may be part of the picture, however, I am quickly learning that true vulnerability stems from living authentically and in your complete and total Truth, and then stepping out and owning it. It is not easy, but I have to say, it feels damn good. And that is something I am truly proud to model for my daughters.

With love,

Anatheia

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Day 11: Meatloaf, Asparagus and a Case of the Mondays

Yes indeed, today I had a major case of the Mondays. It wasn’t too horrid- just enough to keep a general scowl on my face for the majority of the day. I’m guessing it started off with the fact that all three of us were a bit sleep deprived from the weekend soccer tournament. Both girls missed their buses and I had to drive them in, which in turn gave me about 10 minutes to get dressed and ready for my own class. I spent the day in a sort of daze, exacerbated by the dark skies which brought a bit of rain and hail by noon.

As I trudged on through the day, my lack of focus sent me into even more of a foul mood and left me wondering how I would turn this day around to find some beauty and joy. However, the sun slowly peaked through the clouds later in the afternoon,  warming up just enough to give me a power boost through the rest of the day.

Mondays afternoon/evenings are generally tricky between my night class and my teenager staying later after school for newspaper, usually leaving me about 30-45 minutes to get to get dinner cooked, on the table and ready for class.  As I dash out the door with my half-eaten dinner, I usually holler my long list of instructions, and pray that it will all magically get taken care of  in my absence.

Tonight, I was incredibly proud of my pre-planing and time management, which not only allowed me to get a decent meal on the table, but I was able to actually sit down with my girls and enjoy our meatloaf, mashed potatoes and asparagus. It’s a rarity when we actually get to sit down and eat as a family, where someone doesn’t have to rush off to practice. So although I was the one rushing out the door, I truly appreciated my few moments of recess gossip and lunchtime tales and fully eaten dinner.

And the best surprise…the girls had taken care of everything I asked them to do while I was gone. Now that is a celebration in itself!

Day 6: Playing Hooky, Jamba Juice and Awesome Mom-ing

Today I am celebrating teaching my kids fabulous lessons and at the same time, opening them up for deeper learning, by allowing them to make their own choices.

To start with, my 13-year-old…Last night she was close to tears around 10:30, in exhaustion, with still more homework to finish. I cut her off and pointed out the fact that her brain was done for the night, and it was better to get to bed and wake up early to finish up. She woke up this morning even more exhausted and overwhelmed, so I gave her the choice to miss school and get caught up on rest and homework.

Some parents (i.e. her father) might be a bit judge-y about this decision. However, I think it taught her a valuable lesson in self-care. Now granted, this daughter hates to miss school and is overly responsible, therefore I didn’t feel like she was taking advantage of the situation. I probably wouldn’t have given this same offer to her younger sister, who has faked some of the finest ailments in her ten years on this planet.

My teen felt tremendous amounts of guilt and shame for essentially playing hooky. I assured her this was actually a thoughtful decision in the sense that she needed to give her body and emotions a day of rest and this can sometimes be the most responsible thing a person can do. And if she didn’t rest, she could end up a whole lot worse and miss even more school- my personal favorite, “It just hurts, everywhere!”

Although she spent several hours on the couch watching TV, she wrote a beautiful paper, emailed all of her teachers to catch up on missed work, and  finished her day refreshed, caught-up and ready to finish out the week. I feel proud as a mom to impart this wisdom on my beautiful daughter at such a young age.

My younger daughter’s lesson wasn’t as dramatic, but perhaps for her personality, just as important. Today she was given the gift of trust and independence.  After school she asked for three dollars, which she promised to pay back, and if she and her girlfriend could ride their bikes to Jamba Juice and split a large smoothie. Of course when I was this age, it was pretty much a given that we would ride our bikes all over town. Sad to say, but times have changed and this was a huge step for her.

It was the furthest she had ever been on her bike, without adult accompaniment, and ordering and paying on her own was new as well. She was concerned that they wouldn’t take her money, because she was too young. I assured her that the teenager working the counter at Jamba Juice couldn’t care less about her age. Upon returning, she felt proud, self-assured and most importantly, a sense of accomplishment. And I didn’t even worry about her the entire time (a gold star earned for mom).

It is so easy as a mom, to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and want to shelter our children. Sometimes we forget that we are raising young women (and men) and preparing them for the real world, which will sadly be here before we know it. I am proud to help these two amazing human beings take another step in their growth and development.

Today I feel like an awesome mom!

With Love,

Anatheia