Thursday, September 17, 2015

the face of acceptance, the belly of someone who likes bagels

1. embracing your wiggly kid (even if he wiggles right out of your arms)

Dash is super wiggly these days. Whereas once the edge of the changing table was a place to put diaper cream and hand sanitizer and something called “bottom spray” that is just a made-up product invented for baby registries, Dash now sees those things as clay pigeons for him to knock over with one sweep of his magnificent grabbing arm.

This guy will steal the glasses right off your face.
I imagined his near future as a wiggly bigger baby and then a wiggly, curious, running-everywhere toddler. I thought of Matea, Jamie’s year-old daughter, who is gentle and cuddly, though plenty curious as well. I thought about how it wouldn’t be hard, if you were so inclined, to mourn the not-having of a certain kind of baby. Bouncy if you wanted cuddly, cuddly if you wanted bouncy. But just as quickly I dismissed the thought. It would be so much work wishing for another kind of kid! You’d waste so much time! You’d be anxious instead of excited to see what the future held for your particular brand of kid!

This is easy for me to say, since I have a great kid (ahem). But I also know that love is what makes acceptance, is what makes your own kid seem great. A couple of years ago, when artist J. Michael Walker photographed me all bald and proudly chemo-skinny, he described the look on my face as “pure acceptance.” I laughed, because I kicked and screamed my way through cancer. Acceptance, when applied to one’s own life, always struck me as an admission of defeat—the thing that society pushed on you because it wanted you to shut up and be quiet.

Then again, acceptance can be like what Dani Shapiro describes in Devotion: After trying and trying to have a second child, she takes a good long look at her only son and thinks, This is my LIFE, and it is a joyful and obvious thought. I imagine her thinking, Oh, so I’m in the story/universe where I have one child, not the one where I have two.

2. rejecting your aspirational pants

When I can back up and see my life as a story I’m living, not one I’m writing per se, acceptance becomes the only way, even for the stubborn. Especially for the stubborn. Just as I like to get the most bang for my buck, I like to get the most out of my life, and to do so, you have to steer into the swerve sometimes. You have to fall off your bike and shout “I meant to do that!”

What I’m trying to say is that—following up on a post I wrote a couple of months ago about my adoptive-mom-bod—I have decided to accept the fact that I am not an anxiety-chic size 3/4. I am a busy, chocolate-loving “American” 6/8 (meaning that before courtesy sizing, I probably would have been a 10 or 12).

Last night I purged four bags of clothes. Goodbye, butter-yellow Anthropologie pants I wore only once. Goodbye, tiny jeans I wore horseback riding in Puerto Rico. Goodbye, burgundy lace dress that demands a flat stomach.

We'll always have PR.
It hurt a little. But not that much.

It feels weird not having a semi-unachievable goal hanging over me, fucking up my otherwise nice days. I immediately logged onto Amazon and ordered a pair of Lucky Brand jeans in my current size, plus some tops for work (eBay) and some new shoes (DSW) just because. And though I still hunted down bargains, I bought brands I knew would be flattering versus the fashion fixer-uppers I’m always drawn to. (I’m the fashion equivalent of the girl who can’t stop dating alcoholic biker dudes.) It was almost as much fun as shopping for my skinny-mini body, simply because I wasn’t punishing myself.

I’ve been eating about 83% healthy with no bingeing spirals for a couple of months. I haven’t lost weight, but I do feel like I’m doing right by Dash and myself. In a way, I think my new acceptance diet thingy will actually help me, because I’m not pretending Tomorrow Will Be Different. Whatever decisions I make today—about parenting or writing or nutrition or exercise—This Is My LIFE.

I mean, this all sounds pathetically obvious. How many “Best Jeans for Every Body” articles have I read in my life? But there’s always such a huge gap between knowing something intellectually and knowing it in your now-less-visible bones. Maybe it’s just the lovely fall weather, but I feel like I’m turning a corner, and steering into it.