Juggling a Balanced Life: The Clothes

the clothes

I enter the dressing room and suddenly it’s as if all the other lights have been turned off and there is just one big, bright spotlight shining down on my body. It’s an interrogation chamber.

I look at the pieces I brought into the dressing room to try on and sigh. I was confident and loving myself until I walked in here and now every flaw is broadcast in this three-way mirror that should not be legal in stores. I mean, seriously, those things should only be found in the haunted house at the circus. Speaking of which, this mirror is telling me that I belong in the circus.

Sometimes, I walk passed a mirror or a window and I think to myself, “That can’t be accurate.” This is one of those times. I left the house looking decent but somewhere along the way I turned into an extra on The Walking Dead. Right now I have several different angles telling me that this is real life and as in-your-face accurate as it gets.

Now that I’m in a great mood, I begin to try on clothes. I always play it safe and pick out a size that I can basically guarantee will fit. Then, if it fits and there is room I will try on a smaller size and hopefully bask in the glory of a lower number on the tag of my jeans.

Not today. Today, my safe size in pants has created a muffin top that would make the Pillsbury Doughboy jealous. Maybe if I do some squats and lunges these pants will cooperate. As I am engaging in my dressing room calisthenics, it occurs to me that the pants are tight enough that I am dangerously close to enacting the you-bust-through-the-seams, you-buy-it policy that most stores have in place.

Cripes. What gives today? Obviously not my pants. Stretch fit my foot.

Why don’t we move onto the shirts? As I take the shirt that I own off, I stare at my torso in the circus freak mirror. It looks like I have more stretch marks than I thought I walked in here with. Normally, I am aware that I am pretty fortunate to have had two children in less than two years and walk away with only the amount of stretch marks I have, but right now I am a human road map. I go through some positive affirmation phrases in my head and remember that this is the price of life and it’s a price that I would choose to pay over and over again.

I try on the first shirt and it’s a disaster. I can’t even pull it down over my boobs. The second shirt looks decent until I catch a glimpse of my back in the mirror and see that it’s like the rolling hills of South Dakota back there. When and how did I develop back rolls and how do you get rid of them?

So let me get this straight – in an effort to make a profit, stores and clothing designers actually want you to buy their products, right? Then why in the world would they put the most unflattering mirror combined with the most unflattering light in the dressing rooms? I’m pretty sure this lighting just showed me that I have cellulite on my wrist – I didn’t even know that was possible. And why would designers cut their clothing to fit a 12-year-old girl and not a woman’s body? This chest would make a 12-year-old topple over. Not only do I NOT want to buy anything, but it’s a good thing I’m not at the mall or else I would march straight to the food court for a cinnamon covered soft pretzel right about now.

I take a deep breath and think about whether or not I should even bother trying on the last item I brought into the dressing room with me. It’s a dress. When I picked it up off of the rack, I thought that maybe it wouldn’t work for me – it might be more form fitting than what I usually wear.

Well, I brought it in here and I’m already in my underwear so I might as well give it a shot.

Once I get the fabric situated, I finally glance in the mirror. “That can’t be accurate,” I mutter. This time I have a smile on my face. This dress hits my body in all of the right places. I check my figure in the mirrors and all three angles show that there is no muffin top and my back rolls are gone. I don’t even need to do any stretches to see if they will help the dress to fit. It is not inappropriate in any way, yet it is sexy. I channel my inner Beyoncé and dance around the dressing room Like. A. Boss.

The dress I bought is a Large, but that is not what I think of myself when I wear it. I feel beautiful.

I have learned that it does not matter what the size tag says on my clothes. It is all about how I look and feel when I wear the clothes. We have all seen people walking around who are clearly trying to squeeze into a size that is not appropriate for them. Just because the button buttons, doesn’t mean the clothes fit. Also, I have found that if the fit is better in a bigger size, I look smaller. I don’t go around pulling the back of people’s jeans out just to see what size they are wearing. Who cares? But unfortunately, I have lived a decent chunk of my life feeling way too concerned about the number or letter on a stupid tag. And for what reason? All that has done is make me feel badly about the way I look when there is absolutely no reason to feel that way.

I would classify my style as ‘modern modesty.’ I want to be in-style, yet I still want to be age appropriate. What worked for me several years ago might not work now. For example, I recently tried on a pair of jean shorts that I have had for many years. They still fit fine, but when I walked downstairs, my son said, “Mom, why are you wearing jeanie underwear?” Perhaps they were a little short and now they’ve got to go. It doesn’t matter if my husband thinks they look great, if my son believes that I am walking around in public wearing underwear and not shorts, that’s a problem.

I’m working on treating my body well with the food I eat, and the things I do, but I also need to be kind to myself by choosing clothes that reflect who I am on the inside. Not everything is made for me nor will it all look nice on my body, but when I find the things that do it’s wonderful. Part of keeping myself balanced involves the thoughts that I think about my body. Just as I wouldn’t want to go around tearing others down, I shouldn’t be tearing myself down either. I spent years hating the way that I looked and now I know what a shame that was. I was bought at a price and I need to treat myself as Christ treats me – worthy of love. I am determined to keep a godly mindset for all things in my life, which includes balancing health, wellness, and body image.

 

My Kids are Always Dirty

My kids are always dirty. I don’t take the term ‘always’ lightly, yet I feel confident in saying that they are always dirty.

They will cdirtome to visit me at work and my husband will swear that they were clean when they left the house, yet somehow on the ride to see me they have full-grown dirt beards. They are like dirt magicians. They could attract dirt even in one of those scientific ‘clean rooms.’

I will try to make them presentable when we go out in public, but they are sure to have uncooperative bed head. In the winter it might not be bed head so much as hat hair. Regardless, it is sticking up everywhere. The kids also like to rock the one pant leg up, one pant leg down look. If we are not covered in dirt, we are sure to look disheveled.

They are also stain magnets. New clothes don’t stay new for very long on these guys. I try to save or donate the clothes that I can once they have outgrown them, but usually they are so well-worn that it’s not even helping anyone to donate them. Grass stains, dirt stains, and food stains are constantly being pre-treated in our laundry room.

The dirt just doesn’t stay on them, either. I have finger prints all over my walls and my windows. If you find a light switch in my house, odds are that the paint around it is covered in crud from their tiny hands. I have given them baths only to drain the water and find the biggest ring of dirt circling the entire tub. Our remote control buttons sometimes stick because they have gotten who-knows-what all over it.  Several times a week, I must ask the question, “Is that chocolate, poop, or mud?”

Dirt travels from them and covers me, as well. After their visits to see me at work, it is not uncommon for me to go to a meeting, look down, and realize that they rubbed chocolate on my sweater (my co-workers always give them candy) or gave me a muddy boot print on my leg when I picked them up for a hug. When I’m at home, I’m pre-treating my clothes too because I am joining in on the activities that make them so dirty. Like the time that my oldest son found a huge mud puddle by our old house and ran into it before I could do anything about it. I had to wade into it to get him out but we played for a while first. When my husband came home he found a pile of muddy clothes out on our deck.muddy

Our bathrooms are always in need of a good scouring, not because I don’t clean them, just because the regular dirt mixes with bodily fluids in this room. When asked why there was pee everywhere, I was told by my son that sometimes he likes to stand there with his eyes closed and “see what happens.” I’ll show you what happens – you’re going to start cleaning the bathroom yourself!

Recently, I thought that there was just run-of-the-mill dirt on the rug in the boys’ bathroom. I waited a few days to wash it with the bathroom towels until I came to find out what it really was. My son informed me that he had run out of toilet paper while going to the bathroom, so he just wiped himself with the bathroom rug. Instead of just walking over random dirt, we had all been stepping on a skid mark for a couple of days. What I can’t figure out is why he didn’t just ask for more toilet paper? I mean, he is never home alone so someone could have helped him out. So gross.

I used to try to fight all of it, but I feel like I am getting better at accepting the fact that where kids abound, dirt abounds. I do my best to keep things clean and dress them nicely, but I can’t keep them from playing and having fun. So stain up your clothes and fingerprint my walls – that’s the stuff memories are made of.

I Just Want to Go to the Bathroom Alone

I am incredibly grateful for the fact that all of my needs and the needs of my family are met – roof over our heads, clothes in our closets, and food on our table. We can pay our bills and while we might not have much left over for material indulgences, I can’t really think of much that I actually want on top of what I already have been given.  I don’t take this for granted and I thank the Lord for these realizations every day. But, there is this one thing that I want more than anything else.

I just want to go to the bathroom alone.

I’m not trying to be gross or inappropriate, but being able to sit down and take care of your business by yourself is one of the simplest life pleasures.   And it is a simple life pleasure that has eluded me for the past four years.

I have always had bathroom issues. Case in point, my high school class once took a train from Pennsylvania to Florida and back for our senior trip. I had to be drugged with Dramamine so that I could relax enough to use the bathroom on the train.   I kept thinking, ‘What if the door jiggles open? What if it didn’t lock? What if someone bursts in to see me?’

Then I became a mother and all of these things happen every single time I try to go to the bathroom.

bathroom

It started out innocently enough – put the baby in the infant seat right in front of the toilet. They aren’t going to go anywhere and they won’t remember what’s going on. Soon I found myself multitasking in every facet of my life and the bathroom was no exception.  Let’s face it, nursing while pooping is weird, but sometimes necessary.   I felt weird about it with one kid, then when I added the second kid, I would be nursing, going to the bathroom, and trying to stop the other kid from dumping (pun intended) Q-tips and cotton balls all over the floor.

Once the nursing stopped, I still didn’t find myself with bathroom privacy. Now they will just storm in and verbally ask for things.

“Can I have a snack? Can you get me a snack?”

Ummm. How do you suggest I get you a snack? I am otherwise occupied and pretzels are going to have to wait for a few minutes.

This is when I hear the kitchen chair being dragged across the floor so that my kid can climb up and get the pretzels himself. Heaven forbid we have to exercise any patience in this home.

Even worse, the minute I sit down on the throne the kids begin to fight. Not just little fights, but they start to scream and push each other and come way too close to the edge of the stairs. Pull up your pants and get out there to break up Friday Night Fights, Mama!

The kids don’t seem to realize that they need me for anything or want to be by my side until I feel that nature is calling. They will knock, but despite this polite gesture, they do not heed my instruction to wait outside of the bathroom until I have finished. First I spy little hands reaching under the door. Shortly after that they will just bust down the door and come in to see what I’m doing. What do you think is going on in here?

Lately, my youngest one comes into the bathroom and wants to sit on my lab while he enjoys a lollipop. Is this real life? Should we have a conversation or just sit here in silence and pretend that this isn’t incredibly awkward? Why don’t we open the window blinds and invite the neighbors to this bathroom pow-wow? Sometimes he will bring a book with him and we will read for a little bit. So you’re telling me that you won’t sit still long enough for me to read to you in the living room on the recliner, but when I’m sitting half-nude on the toilet reading suddenly seems like a good idea?  Ironically, he often chooses the book ‘Everyone Poops’ for me to read.

I could shadoobie at work, but there might as well be a revolving door on that bathroom. It is Grand Central Station in there – not exactly ideal for such a private act. So I hold it in all day, take care of everything I could possibly take care of at home, then at 9pm it hits me that I still haven’t had a bowel movement and it’s probably why I have been so miserable for the last 4 hours. By now everything is practically impacted and even though the kids are in bed and I can use the bathroom alone, it is a less-than-pleasant experience. Good luck passing Stonehenge!

Honestly, all I want to do is wake up and take care of business first thing in the morning. If things work out this way, I will literally skip from my car into the office because I will be in such a great mood. It just never works out that way. The life of a mother means that you are endlessly side-tracked from morning till night. So, if you have to go badly enough, you just adopt the open door policy and roll with it.

In a few years, the kids will realize that it’s not cool to barge in on someone in the bathroom because they will want their privacy in there as well. When that day comes I will rejoice and reclaim this precious alone time.

At the end of the day, if using the bathroom alone is all I really want then there is no room for complaints.