Love The One You’re With

I really liked what I said in my previous body positive blog and it felt so freeing. But I’m far from being more than just OK with my body. It’s a hell of a long way from being happy with it. 

In the past week I’ve caught myself two times feeling shame about my weight and appearance. First, I was in my bathroom, and against my better judgement, I got on the scale. It was just as I expected — 180 pounds — which is 10 more than when COVID started to spread and 30 from my goal weight that my gastric sleeve surgeon set for me. Anyways, Isla came in just as I was stepping off the scale and for some reason I yelled, “I need privacy!” and became flustered. It took me a minute to realize that I was embarrassed by that number. I didn’t want her to see it. It took another minute for me to realize that number doesn’t mean anything to her and shouldn’t mean anything to me. Just to reiterate, we’re going through a pandemic and it’s OK and understandable that my stress eating has led to a weight gain. It’s not an excuse to discard healthy eating habits, but I can give myself some grace. I should, anyway. 

It’s also important for me to say, and for me to hear, that my worth is not tied to my weight. My worth is not tied to my weight. I’m still beautiful and smart. My hair still curls the way I like it. My husband still loves me and tells me I’m beautiful every day. I still have amazing friends and family who have my back no matter what. My kids are still amazing and have hearts of gold. My small community still respects and supports me. My weight shouldn’t dictate how I feel about any aspect of my wonderful life. So, why does it? 

What I have learned in the past 20 years or so is that the flawed thinking surrounding women’s — and girls’ — bodies is deep seated. Women are bombarded with the notion they should be thin and to be beautiful, that they should fit a near-impossible mold. This is done through TV shows, advertising, social media, magazines, etc. According to http://www.centerforchange.com, young girls are exposed to 400 to 600 media images per day. That same site says a study found that 63% of female participants identified weight as a key factor in determining how they felt about themselves, more important than family, school or career. While it’s a bit comforting knowing I’m not alone, it’s also very depressing to hear.

That’s why we need to keep exploring this issue. There is a body positive movement but we need a body positive revolution, to discard these very dangerous bullshit ideals that only fuel eating disorders, depression, anxiety and body dysmorphia disorder.

Body dysmorphia can lead to unnecessary plastic surgery. Personally, I’ve had a “mommy makeover” which included lipo, a breast reduction and tummy tuck. I also had the gastric sleeve surgery in an attempt to control my weight and eating disorder (Binge Eating Disorder).  

But I’m here to tell you that didn’t help my self image, except maybe the breast reduction. I just didn’t feel the need to have size HH breasts. Let me also say I don’t mean to knock anyone who does get surgery. I’m all for supporting anyone’s decision to change their body, so long as it makes them happy.

I’ve canceled plans because I’ve felt fat and ugly. I’ve hidden in baggy clothes. I’ve dieted too many times to count. I’ve convinced myself that people don’t like me because I’m ugly and fat. I’ve ducked out of photos or refused to even take them. I’ve fed my body nothing but hate and junk and expected it to be healthy and perfect.

But no more. I don’t want to be boxed in by impossible standards. I want to have wild hair, wear crazy bright colors and patterns. I want to show off my tattoos. I want to take all the photos. It’s cliche but I want my little light to shine and not be dimmed by a little extra weight. I want — no, need — for my children (especially Isla) to see my live unapologetically, with confidence and love. I want them to laugh in the face of anyone who dare criticize their body or appearance. I want them to be everything I am and everything I’m not, all at the same time. I just want them to be happy and that starts with self love and care.

I’m going to stop hiding in photos and nitpicking about “bad angles.” I’m just going to live. Freely. That scale means, and measures, nothing. My children are watching, so I am morally responsible to let my light shine and shine brightly.

Please do the same.

If you or a loved one struggles with an eating disorder, I urge you to visit the National Eating Disorders Association.

Hangin’ Tough

It’s been three weeks since the kids have been home with me all day every day. Three long weeks. I know every parent is struggling right now, trying to figure out how to balance work and kids. They probably aren’t going back to school this academic year. And while it has been stressful with the kids home, I’m proud to say I haven’t lost my shit.

There’s been yelling and some tears but something inside my brain switched and now I feel mentally tough for the first time in a long time. I guess I realized I don’t have another choice. I have to show up and be a mom. There is no end to the quarantine in sight and there’s nothing to do but be strong. Usually, uncertainty and this amount of stress would trigger me, causing panic attacks and rendering me useless. I know everybody is in the same boat and I don’t mean to whine about this situation but I don’t know if everyone realizes how hard it is for parents right now. We can’t go anywhere or do anything the kids usually like to do. What bothers me most is knowing that my babies surely are feeling stressed and out of control. They need routines and structure. I imagine they are scared and completely overwhelmed. I know I am.

My days have started around 5:30-6 am and end around 7-8 pm. That’s a lot for me. In the good old days, I would go to bed at 9 pm so I would be well rested. Now, I get the kids down, eat dinner and barely have anytime to discuss things with my husband and just relax. I know going to bed at 11 pm will make me tired and break up my routine but I NEED to chill, not be touched, not be yelled at or asked to do a million things. The struggle is real. Now, more than ever self care is crucial and carving out time with the kids here is hard. But I have to do it. Everybody does, even if you’re not depressed and ridden with anxiety.

Self care right now looks like reading my favorite book, watching my fave shows, doing Sticker by Number puzzles and taking hot baths. Most days none of that happens but I’m trying harder to incorporate it in our new daily life.

I worry that this will break me, that I won’t feel tough and be able to handle the kids. I worry for everyone who struggles with mental health. This pandemic is enough to deal with without the added stress of thoughts of worthlessness, suicidal thoughts or debilitating anxiety.

I did see that Health and Human Services launched a mental health hotline to help anyone who needs it. People are available 24/7, 7 days a week. If you need help or want to talk, you can always email me at heatherannloeb@gmail.com or call the hotline at 833-986-1919.

Be safe. Be well.

 

Mac & Cheese

This is Macaroni and Cheese, named by our 4-year-old, of course. Our other three, yes three, cats seem to be ok, although one cat, Fifi, is simply not acknowledging his presence. Enjoy.

Weerow, Formerly Known as Neon, the Seahorse

Remember back in the ’90s when McDonalds was giving out Beanie Babies in its Happy Meals? It was all the rage. I remember getting a few Happy Meals to get the Beanie Babies because we were all going to become rich from collecting them, right? For some particular reason, I only kept one of the Beanie Beanies from the Happy Meals. His or her name was Neon the seahorse and she was born in 1999. I kept it for a long time. Into my 20s and into my 30s. I put it into my children’s stuffed animal collection when I moved out of my parents’ house just because I thought it was cute and didn’t care to get rid of it. 

Anyway, when I had my kids the seahorse was just sitting around in the stuffy bins. Isla never paid attention to it but when Eli was born, he was drawn to it and as soon as he could grip things, the seahorse was his. He took it everywhere. Eventually I got online to find more and I did. You can find anything on Amazon. I found some still in the original McDonalds’ packaging, then I hit the motherlode – they had a 7″ or so one available from Ty so I bought some of those. 

Eli continued to grow but that seahorse (or one of them anyway) would always be near. When he learned to talk, he started to call the seahorse by a name but we really couldn’t understand it. Then one day we did – Weerow. Years later, it’s still Weerow and we’ve gone through at least 10, because eyeballs get chewed out, holes are made and God knows what else. My housekeeper and I have started sewing up the holes and eyes just to save money so we’re not buying so many so often.

Eli loves seahorses so much – I made him a seahorse blanket, he loves to see Weerows at the aquarium and in books. It’s just amazing. And it all started with some stupid Happy Meal toy I got when I was a freshman in high school and kept for 20 years. Life is crazy.

Here’s what Neon (Weerow) is supposed to look like:

Here are the eye-less, hole-ridden Weerows on their last leg. Er, tail if you will. And the blanket I made Eli. Why are seahorses always neon-colored? 

Anyway, this blog didn’t have a point. It just warms my heart.

Weerow FOREVER.

Parenting with Depression

I don’t talk about this much because I don’t want to come across as a bad mom but parenting with depression is hard. It can be real hard. Depression depletes your energy, at least it does mine, and what little I have left goes to the kids, I know – you can’t pour with an empty cup and all that. But what little energy I have, I have to spend it on feeding, bathing, dressing, and reading to the kids. And of course, getting them to school and back.

Luckily for me, the kids go to preschool for most of the day and I can go to therapy, take time for myself or take a nap before they come home. When they do get home, I get anxious what do with them and just want to lie down. YouTube is watched a lot around here when I’m going through a really bad depressive episode. That’s not something I’m proud of. My mother-in-law helps A LOT, which makes me feel guilty, and I feel like I rely on her too much. And I’m just talking about the depression, I haven’t even touched on my migraines and their frequency.

Because the kids take up so much energy, my showers get missed, I don’t cook dinner for my husband and me, and my house is a disaster. It’s so overwhelming and I feel like a failure on both the mom and the wife front. Then comes more guilt, followed by more anxiety.

Have you ever seen Bad Moms? I can related to one of the characters – Kristen Bell’s character. She happily describes a scene where she’s in the car alone and she gets hit by a car or a truck and has to go to the hospital a long time and basically everyone has to wait on her. Now, I’m not wishing to die here, people. But that scene is funny because a lot of moms can relate to that, whether they admit to it.

Parenting is so hard and it’s even harder with depression. I guess that’s why I love going to my mom’s house because she helps me with the kids and sometimes I don’t have to lift a finger. She cooks all the meals, helps with bath time or even just does it herself. As a grandma, she likes it. I hope.

I know intellectually I’m a good mom. I’m the first person they see in the morning and I’m the last person they see at night. I make them breakfast, pack their lunches and sort of put dinner together. I read to both every night. And I tell them I love them every single day. They are loved and they are taken care of. I know they can see I love them through my actions.

It sounds like I’m trying to convince you but I guess it’s me I’m trying to convince. There will always be this feeling that I’m not enough.

But depression is a liar.

Anxiety is a liar.

My brain just has to come to terms with that.

This post is about poop – fair warning

We all know that stress leads to depression and I have been stressed with my daughter’s potty training since this past December. I just need to vent.

Potty training started off well enough. She’d pee in the small potty we got her but she wouldn’t poop. No big deal. A lot of children start off that way. Then she maybe got scared of pooping in the toilet and started holding it in, which led to problems. She started to leave smears or go to the bathroom in her panties. That led to tons of scrubbing and the sanitary cycle. I finally gave up and put her back in pull ups. But the problem worsened – she’d hold her poop in for a week or more. She started to get a horrible rash from having some much leakage and holding it in. When we’d sit her on the toilet there was kicking, screaming and crying on both our parts. She also began to kick and scream when I’d try to clean her up. It was awful and I would be anxious the whole day knowing what was coming. Her pediatrician was very helpful but kept saying it was her diet, which really made me feel like a piece of crap -another thing I was doing wrong.

We took her to the GI specialist who gave us medicine to cleanse her out and cleanse her out it did. Her rash cleared up and she started using the potty almost all the time with very few accidents.

Then, she regressed. Repeat of everything aforementioned. She’s still holding in which leads to constipation with the leakage, which leads to the bleeding and painful rashes. I’ve tried a lot to get her to go to the toilet – bribed her with potty prizes, letting her sit backwards on the toilet to draw on with markers, letting her blow bubbles while she was sitting, tried letting her go without a pull up or panties – nothing has worked.

On her follow up at the GI’s the doctor told me she just likes to poop in her pants. I paid a lot of money to hear her say that. As long as she wasn’t constipated, there wasn’t a problem except the rash. I’d have to wait it out, she said. She would get it on her own.

I tell you all this because I feel like a failure of a mom. My anxiety at night is through the roof. I have to change her almost every hour to make she she’s clean and she’s still not going on the potty as much as she should. I wash my hands so many times a day, causing them to be dry and cracked. Not a big deal but this is the most stressful situation I’ve been in with her. And I know it could be worse.

Thankfully, her school is working with me. She’s moving up to the 3’s classroom where you have to be potty trained. I had to provide a note from the GI specialist saying we were working on it and I’m pretty sure she’s the only kid in the class not potty trained, which again doesn’t really matter but adds to my frustration and anxiety.

I’m just being impatient and I know I need to relax. She won’t be like this forever but going through this cycle since December has really worn me down, especially with the kicking and screaming.

Please fell free tell me your kids have had similar issues or you know what I’m going through, because right now I feel like I’m the worse mom ever.