I had planned for this summer to be about the great harvest and canning adventure of 2012, but our garden was a bust and, to be honest, I feel very far away from our homesteading dream. Many of our seeds didn’t even pretend to come up, and we never did manage to get the second garden going. The weeds are thick. The lawn needs to be cut, the wood needs to be moved, I started painting the shed door a couple months ago and still it sits, unfinished and taunting me. We wanted to build an outdoor oven and eat our meals outside every night, but it never happened. We have been parking our car by the busy road for weeks (or is it months now?) because the post supporting the gate finally gave way to rot. Toys are strewn everywhere and the only time the kids want to play with them is when I have decided it is safe to put them back in some semblance of order. I feel ashamed and overwhelmed, but every time I try to do outdoor work Silas darts off into the woods or to seek rusty nails behind the shed. Every time I try to weed the garden the kids begin picking all the green tomatoes and trampling the few things that are producing food.
I am in a different, rather selfish, head space of late. I think it started around my birthday in late June. Hitting milestones and anniversaries have always been a time of reflection for me. We celebrated 9 years together, my 32nd birthday, Silas will turn 2 in a week, Mike will turn 35 this fall. There is something profound about marking another year down; thinking about what I would have said if some had told me what I would be doing 10 or 2 years down the road.
It makes me think about how I should have or could have done things differently (no matter how futile). I rushed into post secondary school even though I had no idea what I wanted to be. I jumped from school to school, program to program and yet stayed in a stagnant 5 year relationship for about 4.5 years too long because it was my first love and I thought that was as good as it got. I was always in a rush to be an adult and make a home. I tied myself down with neurotic pets and student loans and was paralyzed by the weight of it. I forgot to travel and do silly things. I was ruled by fear; fear of failure; fear of disappointing people; fear of money (or lack of it); fear of making the wrong decision.
If I had my time back, I would have traveled and I would have learned a trade like carpentry instead of trying to cram myself into boxes I knew I couldn’t fit into. I would like to say I would also dump my ex, but would I have met Mike if that happened? Our lives really are fragile organisms aren’t they? With the simple flick of the wrist, it could all change forever. It would seem that nothing is insignificant.
I suppose, above all other regrets, my biggest one is that I have spent a large portion of my life hating myself (and inadvertently forgetting to trust the whispering wisdom we all have in our bellies). My curly hair, my less than shapely legs, my wide hips, my lack of ankles, my pale skin, my cellulite.
When I was 18, I had a 23 inch waist and weighed 115 pounds. I thought I was fat and my boobs were too small. Over the next five years I went up to 135 pounds and I mourned the days when I was 115 pounds. Then I got happier and with contentment came another 15 pounds and I pined for the 135 pound days. Then I ballooned to 200 pounds with my first pregnancy and barely had time to recover when I ballooned again with a second pregnancy. I have spent the last few years around 160 pounds until I dropped 10 pounds when I stopped nursing about a year ago. So here I am, 34 days into early morning workouts and making myself a priority for one hour per day. Pregnancy and years of neglect have taken their toll. My body is different now. Stronger from the laborious work of making two humans, but weaker and wider too. I feel in control for the first time in a long time. The scale hasn’t moved yet (except for maybe the first week) so we’ve banished it to the basement. Proper thing. I don’t care about the numbers so much anymore.
The truth is, I am tired of hating myself, but I don’t know how to stop. I read this post last night and realized I have known the same things about myself for some time now. I always find something to hate about myself whether I weigh 115 pounds or 200 pounds. It isn’t my weight that is the problem, but my inner dialogue. I have to ask myself what I want my future self to look back at the pictures of this woman on this day and feel. Sometimes I have to dig deep for the motivation to push through a workout. Sometimes it is fired by self loathing while other times it is self love. This time around I am trying to make it more about being healthy than perfect. I don’t want to waste anymore time hating myself and putting things off like I did in my twenties. I don’t want to pass these loathing, paralyzing habits and beliefs onto my own children. So, if that means I have to be a little selfish for a little while, it is ok and for the greater good. When I get frustrated that my pants don’t feel any looser and I feel like quitting (because what is the point?), I remind myself it won’t fix anything. This is bigger than vanity; I think I finally get that now.
So here we are, thinking far too much out what we wish we had done with our twenties; wishing we could stop being responsible for a few weeks. Thinking about how fun it would be to buy that VW van in Wilberforce and drive away from the bills; dreaming about living in a tiny apartment in Paris where we would eat croissants for every meal of the day, spend our days roaming the streets and museums, and learning beautiful french alongside our homeschooled kids. The reality is that I am feeling tired and used up and resentful. I am constantly exasperated and lose my temper more frequently. This all mingles with mother guilt that always settles in soon after each and every harsh word. I know they are precious creatures, and that they grow too quickly, and that I will think of these early days with an aching heart. Sometimes though, I just need a moment to catch my breath and remember I am still a human; just a moment where they aren’t bouncing off the walls and climbing counters and setting everything off kilter so I can see the whole picture.
I still believe wholeheartedly in this life we’re building and the values behind it, but I am busy with the important work of self change. One day soon the two will meet amidst the trees and it will be a beautiful thing.
And I will be better for it.
go gently + be wonderful