That might be really old or really young depending on who and where you are. I have to admit that most of the time it feels kind of old, especially when I look at how much energy my kids have comparatively.
A little over a year ago, I decided that I didn’t want to be 40 and fat. I knew I had no control over the 40 part, but the “fat” part of it was a different story.
Going back about 8 years now, I decided to become “Off Duty Mom” when I felt that too few people were talking about the ugly side of motherhood or parenting, for that matter. I needed more people to be open about hemorrhoids, varicose veins, tantrums, post-natal constipation, potty-training, the obnoxiousness of Caillou and the vast abyss of Thomas the Tank Engine and Minecraft into which so many kids fall.
But, it seems that people are talking about those things now. I am really happy that new mothers now won’t have to deal with what I did: believing that everyone else had an easy go of it while I was over here crying every night at 7 PM for NO REASON WHATSOEVER (aka: hormones) after giving birth. Had my dear friend not said to me, 3 months before I delivered, “when I had my daughter I was not prepared for that much bleeding. I mean there was blood everywhere,” I might not have known that sleeping on a bed that looks like it was prepared by a serial killer ready to dismember his neighbor and a small elephant or that those giant mesh undie things would be so very, very necessary. Oh, the joy that was the icepack panty pad. What a motherfucking fantastic invention. And, had my mother not given me fiber pills when I came home from the hospital and just said, “TRUST ME,” I wouldn’t have been prepared for the colossal fucking ass-rip that was trying to poop after delivering a baby.
My kids are school-aged now and that comes with new challenges for me. But, when I hit my don’t-be-40-and-fat “eureka” moment, I knew that I wasn’t just all about the kind of vanity that comes with wanting to lose weight in your 20’s. It wasn’t about a goddamn thigh-gap. It was about living a long and healthy life with my family. I wanted to be strong and fit. But, most of all, having struggled with depression and anxiety for so long, I wanted to stop the incessant message in my head that said about so much: “I can’t.”
I repeated the ugly “I can’t” message to myself probably a few dozen times each day, every day. It related to what I felt was utter exhaustion about e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. around me. “I just can’t stay up any later.” “I just can’t run and play with my kids outside.” “I just can’t walk to the park. We have to drive.” The list went on and on. There seemed to be no end to the things I told myself I couldn’t do as a mom, as a teacher, as a wife, and just as a living, breathing human.
So, I am moving on to talk about something else now that I don’t thing enough people are honest about: aging gracefully.
Actually, cosmetics companies, fashion magazines, celebrities and other people I don’t particularly want to hear weigh in on the subject are talking about it plenty. But, I am not hearing a dialogue about what matters to me.
So I am going to start one.
Ever seen a video online of some amazing 65-year old bodybuilding and being all “If I can do it, anyone can! I’m 65! Get off the couch!”
Fuck you, 65-year old.
I started CrossFit almost exactly one year ago. I am most decidedly NOT starring in videos, lifting 150 pound over my head and telling people to get off the couch. I am in no position to tell anyone a friggin’ thing about fitness.
When I tell people I do CrossFit, I get one of two reactions: awe or confusion. Some people have never heard of it. But, most think that I am fucking nuts. They think I throw tires and run 5Ks with kegs of beer on my back. Actually, I do push-ups on my knees and I get lightheaded after running 100 yards.
That fit, smirking 65-year old in the videos started small, too, I am guessing. Rome wasn’t built in a day, y’all.
So, I am recharging Off Duty Mom. I can’t talk legitimately anymore about how annoying Elmo is because
- I am no longer in a place where Elmo is in my world. It’s all K.C. Undercover and Avengers movies ’round here now and
- It’s been done and overdone. Blah Blah Blah Being a Mom is Hard.
I mean, being a mom is still hard. But, what I am finding hard at this point in my journey is how to be better to myself for my family. How do I increase my life span and breathe in life with more joy and less exhaustion?
I will be sharing with you now the Off Duty Mom journey of growing older, becoming stronger, finding more positive headspace and not being 40 and fat.
Thanks for your readership up to this point. I hope you’ll be interested in opening conversations about how we can (and must) take better care of ourselves not so we can compete with the 22-year old moms at the pool whose bodies just sprung right back into magazine-cover shape post-partum (“it was so easy!”), but so we can grow from our former selves.