And truthfully, I don’t want to be “that Mom.” That Mom that I see in therapy, or carrying a walker and a set of orthotics, and struggling to make it all work. The Mom who has that air of martyrdom, the Mom who seems to always put herself last.
When I first had kids, I saw myself as the Mom in the stroller ads who was running with a perfect ponytail behind a jogging stroller, trim, fit and calm. It never happened. My real life took over and I was running, but not in a cute ponytail with a stroller. I was running to make this life work. Getting my daughter to every therapy on every corner of our world, shuffling my other kids along the way, carrying the walkers and wheelchairs, and ungracefully packing them in and out of my minivan. My reality is sometimes not very pretty or calm, and I think for a lot of years it has shown in me. Not in a good, healthy way – but in a more beaten down way. I hate that.
Two years ago my son had a terrible accident and fell into a fire camping, when he was 7. Added to the fact that I had a child with Cerebral Palsy who was starting in a new school, as a kindergartner, outside of my comfort zone of pre-school and in house therapies, and with a son in the ICU going through burn treatment, I fell apart at the seams. It all came down at once, and I was a mess. When I finally looked down and saw my ever growing middle, I realized I had put on enough weight to provide myself with an inner tube. A flotation device around the middle, because clearly I felt as if I was drowning. I made it through the tough time, I made it to therapies, I made it to my son’s rehab, I got them both into school happily – but not without it leaving a mark.
I was standing at the park the other day watching my littlest one ride a two wheeler for the first time. It was so fun, and so special, and I am so thrilled I am healthy and here to be part of it. I am becoming the person I want to be. As I stood there, I saw a Mom come to pick up her daughter from softball. Her cute, tween daughter, healthy and fit – but the Mom wasn’t. She was wearing big, faded jeans that looked terrible, her hair overgrown and frizzy, looking hassled and like the weight of the world was on her. It made me sad.
I want to be the Mom who looks like she cares about herself, and not just gives to everyone else. Who cares enough to wear clothes that fit, and who brushes her hair, and who shows her little girls that they are important, because she is important. It’s a tough lesson to teach and live, but I’m trying.