Raising babies to be healthy, happy people is the most difficult thing I've ever attempted to do - and that's on a good day.
If there is anything else going on (and usually, it's always something), motherhood can push me right up against my edge, wondering if this is the time I might break.
The past few months for Marie (and me) have been difficult. After years of motoring her for scoliosis, we have decided it was time for her to get a brace.
After waiting in the tiny waiting area, an elderly gentleman (and I use that term very loosely) introduced himself and asked Marie to step on the scale. When she stepped off the scale, he chuckled to himself and asked her, "Hm. Do you like to eat?"
Marie looked at me with a mix of shock and confusion. He looked at me, and repeated the question, but this time more like an answer. "She likes to eat."
I was in disbelief that he would address her weight in such a way. I was already off my game because I was so nervous about this appointment, so I gather whatever wits I have left and say, "Yes, she does like to eat."
He then briefly left the room, and Marie frantically asked, "Is he calling me fat?!"
Desperately trying to protect her, I told her, "Of course not!"
He then scoffed about how she was determined to not let this brace get in the way of her personal style.
I didn't think it could get any worse, but then he looked up from the X-Ray and asked me, “Do you know what the number of her curve?”
“Uh, yes, I think so. But isn’t it on the x-ray?” I have 0 technical training in reading an X-ray, but I was able to find the number with an arrow pointing to the obvious curve in her back.
“Oh, yep. There it is,” he said matter of factly.
Any shred of faith that I had in this guy was totally lost.
I wanted to bolt out of there, but felt trapped by the code of etiquette.
We got to the car, and I blurted out, “He was an asshole. You know, someone once said something about my weight when I was a little older than you, and it really hurt my feelings. But it wasn’t for me to take in. Don’t take it in.”
She looked at me thoughtfully and said, “Just say you what you want say. You know you want to say the MF word.”
Lost in a moment of truth and solidarity I hugged her close. “You are right. He was an mother f*ucking asshole.”
Ugh. I was already feeling like failure.
Maybe I should have gotten her those orthotics when she was a toddler and then we wouldn’t be in the mess now.
And then I felt like I failed again because I just sat there in disbelief at ALL of the professional incompetnecies I witnessed in a 10 minute period instead of storming out. (Although she did witness me taking quick action of calling the office to cancel our brace, found a new place, and let our referring doctor know what happened).
I worry that because I didn’t call him out, she will think it is OK to have someone comment on her body. I worry that I didn’t get angry enough in that office. I worry that I got too angry after we left.
This is just one scenario – never mind all the second-guessing I do about managing her anxiety. And the reaching out to moms I don’t really know to try and make play dates – that’s so awkward that I actually feel like a tap-dancing monkey. Maybe not exactly because the monkey might not have the self-awareness to analyze every bumbling conversation.
This is gig is hard. So hard. Some mornings I wake up with achy shoulders because I was literally clenching my body all night. I try to approach uncomfortable motherhood situations like I approach a pose that I can’t stand in yoga (revolved moon, perhaps, or inverted triangle): deep breaths and an understanding that I am going to meet this pose in the body that I have today, which may or may not be different than last time.
But that focus is hard to sustain, especially when there is another child that needs me or laundry has to get done or I have to work and write. It’s in those moments where my ego sneaks in and leads me to believe I have to work harder at controlling all of the variables. It’s that constant struggle of “I am enough” and “You pretty much suck at this job.”
In the spirit of Mother’s Day and really embracing my self-care practice, I am going to lean towards “I am enough.” Yes, I wish I could have been Beyonce in that doctor’s office and been all “boy bye.” But it’s where I was at that moment.