The L’Anse Diaries: Day 3 Mom Was RIGHT

Colin woke us up moaning in the middle of the night our first night in Baraga.  I had noticed, the day before, that he had a couple of red spots on his face, but I assumed they were bug bites.  By Sunday morning, it was obvious that it was more than that.

It looked suspiciously like the impetigo that he had had a few months ago.  It turned out that his previous impetigo had been a result of an untreated strep infection that we did not know that we had.  So when I woke up to see a sore on his nose, and pimply looking spots on his face, and a giant sore on his thumb, I knew it was time for the doctor.

Bad news spreads quickly through a campground full of 30 of your family members.  Before I knew it, my mom was standing before me with a tube of cortisone cream.

“Cathy had this, put it on his thumb.  It will take the swelling down.  I wouldn’t even take him into the doctor.”

I was irritated, to put it mildly.   The F word floated around in my head again.

“That’s not going to work.  It’s not swollen because of inflammation, it’s swollen because it is an infection!”

She looked at me, equally irritated.  “Are you sure it’s not just a bug bite?”

I cut her off right there.  “Please stop.  I need to take him in for MY OWN peace of mind.  They will probably tell me to just keep putting Neosporin on it, but I need to hear that from a doctor.  That went to medical school.”

My mom and I are the same person, except that we are always on opposite sides of every single issue.

So I took him to the walk-in clinic and waited forever, but at least there was reliable wi-fi there.  And a snack machine.  When you have been camping for 19 hours, the simplest things will make you happy.  Colin and I had a very nice 90 minute date in the waiting room.  We were finally called back, and I shit you not, the doctor asked me if I was sure that it was not a bug bite.

I wish you could have seen my face.

So more Neosporin it was.

We returned to camp just in time to get ready for Second Sand Beach.  I was finally able to take a deep breath and RELAX, which is the goal of any vacation, but very infrequently realized when you vacation with three kids under 9.

The afternoon melted away under the hot sun.  I did get too hot at one point and I jumped into the bay, and then I realized that my legs were numb after about 30 seconds.  You gotta love Lake Superior.

We returned back to camp in time to give the kids a shower, cook dinner, and have a bonfire.

Another great day in the Keweenaw was in the books.

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The L’Anse Diaries: Day 2 Hangry

Three things make me an unbearable travel companion, and I was all three yesterday; hungry, hot, and tired.

I stayed up too late Friday night and inexplicably still woke at 5 am on Saturday morning.  I tried to drift back to sleep, but it was useless.  I accepted that I would be going on 4.5 hours of sleep for our second day of travel.

We took off from the campground around 8 am, drove over the bridge, and stopped at the Big Boy in St. Ignace.  Slowest.  Breakfast.  Ever.  I looked over at Colin and noticed that he looked filthy.

“Did you give the kids a bath yesterday?”

Mark made an apologetic face.  “I was really hoping you weren’t going to ask about that.”

“Seriously, what the heck DID you do yesterday?” amused at this point.

“Yeah, I pretty much zoned out for part of the day.”

At least he’s honest.  No excuses.  I like that.

We hit the road for real around 9:30 am.  I used the drive to write my blog from the day before.  And then I thought I should close my eyes and try to get some rest.  When I am very sleep-deprived, I can feel this heaviness around the bridge of my nose, like I am wearing heavy glasses, and I was definitely feeling it yesterday.

Every time I would start to doze off, the kids would yell or Mark would pass a car and the acceleration would wake me up, or Mark would start talking to me.  No sleep was to be had.

We picked up our rental pop-up camper in Escanaba.  The rental lady was showing me how to operate the camper and I knew I was not paying attention on account of the sleep deprivation.  I asked her if it was all written down somewhere.  She told me that it was not, but anyone could figure it out without a manual.  Clearly, she has never met someone like me before.

We were back on the road again and I was finally able to doze for a few.  When I woke up, we were nearly to L’Anse.  I love looking for all of my favorite landmarks on our ride in:  Canyon Falls, the Ford Estates, The Hilltop, and finally we were able to see the waterfront.  Instead of turning into town, towards Grandma Kitty’s, we continued on 41 to the Baraga State Park.

Over the next hour, we set up the pop-up camper for sleeping and a tent for clothing and supplies storage.   It went surprisingly well.  Mark and I have a history of being just knowledgeable enough to be dangerous, but not knowledgeable enough to be of any real use.  But yesterday, all went as best as can be expected.   I organized all of our supplies and clothing.  The whole time, our family was coming over to our site, welcoming us to the UP.

I was sweaty and I had not showered OR brushed my teeth that day.  In short, I was disgusting.
And soon I discovered that I was also hangry.  My kids actually know the definition of ‘hangry’ because it is a state that I get into all too often and leaves me unbearable to be around.  I cannot even stand myself when I am hangry.

After we set up camp, I finally took a shower and brushed my teeth and then very impatiently herded multiple family members to the Drive-In for a fast food dinner, as I was in no condition to be grocery shopping or cooking dinner.  After dinner, I was slightly more bearable to be around.  After my first rum and coke, tolerable even.  And then I realized that I drove 500 miles to sit around a campfire and drink with the same people I can sit around a bonfire and drink with at home.  But it is different somehow.

The kids were “challenging” at bedtime, but all in all, a good day.

Words are not adequate enough to describe the feelings of being back in L’Anse again.

Finally.

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Exposed Part Two

Yep.  I did it again.  Actually, this is the third time, but I never wrote about the second time.

The end of the story is that I ended up standing outside, chatting with my neighbor for twenty minutes before I realized I did not have a bra on.  And, yes, it was VERY obvious.

Rewind 2 hours, I had come in from my run, took a shower, threw on a cotton dress.  A very thin cotton dress, I might add.   I could not find the bra I wanted in my bedroom and figured it was downstairs.  I came down with every intention of putting on the bra but then I got sidetracked somehow.

Mark went to the driving range, and the whole house became chaos in those thirty minutes, and finding the bra was long forgotten.  I heard my email alert on my phone and discovered it was actually Brady’s email, and it was an email asking him to confirm his PAYPAL ACCOUNT!    Brady having his own email address is both wonderful and terrible.  I checked it last week and discovered that he was emailing back and forth with customer service agents regarding his cloudBit that was not working.  He never even told me it was broken, just took it upon himself to contact customer service.  Wonderful.  Signing up for his own Paypal account, not so wonderful.

“Brady,” I called for him, “You’re not getting a Paypal account!”

No answer.

“Brady!”

No answer.

I walked into his bedroom to find him with all of his bank account information out and he was entering the account number into Paypal.  I took all the papers out of his hands just in time to hear Colin ask for a towel.

“Um, I spilled a little Kool Aid,” he said.

Holding all the bank papers, I walked to the kitchen to see that Colin had poured an overflowing cup of Kool Aid and as he was trying to jam the lid on, more and more Kool Aid was shooting out of the cup, all over the kitchen.

At that point, I didn’t know which situation was more urgent.  I put the bank papers down somewhere (need to find those, come to think of it), cleaned up the spill and overspray, and had a very firm discussion about asking parents before signing up for Paypal.

“Let’s go outside, boys”

When one cannot handle the chaos of three boys in a small house, ‘tis always better to take them outside.  Unless, of course, one is still not wearing  a bra.

When we came outside, I saw our neighbor kids and mom from across the way.  We walked over and invited them to come across the street for a water balloon fight.  Even with being unaware of the bra situation, I still felt awkward, because I THINK I know her name, but I am not sure.  So I just never, ever say her maybe-name.  We are at the point where we have had way too many conversations for me to admit that I don’t know her name.  I just keep hoping I’ll overhear her husband call for her or something.

So they came over and we were chatting for at least twenty minutes before something caused me to look down and I realized.  And I don’t have a poker face.  I crossed my arms across my chest.  And then I tried to figure out WHAT to do.  Do I just play it off, like this is just me?  This is how I dress in the summer?  Or do I tell her?  Do I pretend I have to go to the bathroom and put on the proper undergarments?

By that point, Mark was home, so I asked him to keep an eye on the kids because I had to go inside.  I fixed myself and returned outside and then I just blurted out to her that I forgot to put a bra on.

She said, “Hey, whatever…”

I wish I could work up the guts to ask her her name.  Surely, it could be no more awkward than today.

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Dear Naps, It’s Not Me, It’s You

Dear Naps,

It’s not me, it’s you.

We have had a good, long run.  Almost 9 years now.  And even in those early days, I knew this day would come, but I never wanted to believe it.

You have been my everything for all these years:  my serenity, my sanity, my hope that the day would get better after our time together.  I would start thinking about you at 9 am most days, and the next three hours were sometimes difficult to manage, but the promise of a nap got me through the most challenging of mornings.  I had to fight for you on so many occasions.  And I fought hard, using bribes of treats and adventures, sometimes driving aimlessly for miles and miles, all just to see you again.

You have made my life so much better.  Until you didn’t.  For almost nine years, you have been the bearer of peace and quiet.  Now you are the bearer of a three-year-old who does not want to go to bed at night.  Because he needs a drink of water.  Because he needs to pee.  Because his toe hurts, the big fat one.  Because his back is itchy.  Because he needs to pee again.  And now his toe is itchy, the big fat one.

I do not know how I will live without you, but I do know that it is time to say adieu.

It’s not me, it’s you.

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On Sudden Loss

I visited my sister Saturday.  It was a great day.  My brother and sister-in-law and parents had all decided to visit the same weekend.  That night, we were sitting around having a couple drinks after the kids went to bed when my aunt called and told us a tragic story.  Her daughter’s roommate had drowned in Lake Superior and a young man that had tried to save her had drowned, too.

The mood turned very, very somber.  After we got off the phone with my aunt, we sat, quietly at first.  And then we talked about how we felt for both of the victims’ families.  And then we talked about my brother and what we went through after we lost him.

We woke up the next morning to the devastating news from Orlando.  It was too much.  I avoided the news and stayed mostly off Facebook for a day and half before I could bring myself to read their stories and feel their pain.

This morning, I woke early to run, as usual.  And I quickly scrolled through my Facebook feed to see if anyone had a baby or got engaged while I was sleeping.  The obituary of the young man that drowned showed up in my feed.  I clicked on it.  I do not know why, I just felt compelled to read about him and his outstanding past, his bright future, his fiancé, his family.  And I realized quickly that I could not separate myself from this loss.  I could not put a wall between me and him.  He could be my youngest brother, or my kids one day.  That tragedy could happen to anyone that I love.

I left the house feeling somber, but thankful for a quiet run on dark, empty streets.  I saw my nun friend and remembered how Mark told me she probably thinks I need spiritual guidance.  And then the tears came, and then they became a sob.  I do not cry often, but when I do, it is never that cry where the girl is sitting on a bench looking out a window, with a single tear rolling down a perfectly made-up face.  I ugly-cry; whole body convulsing-gasping for breath-puffy face and puffy eye-cry.  So if the nun did not think I needed spiritual guidance before, I am pretty sure she does now!

Sudden losses have a way of knocking the wind right out of you.  And though not everyone deals with grief in the same way, I think the basics are about the same for almost everyone.

At first, shock.  Utter disbelief.  And then slowly the dread sets in and it comes in waves.  You will be carrying on quite normally one minute, and the next you are ugly-crying.  Nothing gives you comfort; not words, not people, not hugs, not food, not alcohol, not any other distraction.  You live for that millisecond upon waking when it has not entered your consciousness yet.  And then after a few days, even that millisecond is taken away and it is the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing at night.  Everyone who grieved with you at the funeral home goes back to their normal life, but you are still trying to come to terms with this gaping hole in your life.  You momentarily forget and start to dial their number.  And then you remember, like a punch in the stomach.  And then you dial it anyway because you want to hear their voice on their voicemail message.

And in time, there comes a day when you actually enjoy something again for an hour.  And then you feel guilty for feeling joy.  And in more time, bigger parts of your day are devoted to work, family, happy things, and less time is devoted to grief.  And then you have a day when you have only a fleeting thought about the loss.  And then you feel guilty that you are moving on, just like everyone else.

The days turn into weeks, months, years.  But still, the full gravity of the loss will hit you at the oddest times and you ugly-cry again.  And you never know when it is coming, like maybe you wake up to run, and then you see a nun, and something inside of you just lets loose.

The thing about experiencing a sudden loss like that is it changes you forever.  It is an odd sort of a gift, in a way.  Please do not misunderstand me, I would give it all back to have my brother back.  It gives you perspective.  It teaches you to focus on the very big important things in life.  (Spoiler alert:  it is not money or things.)  It tells you to be grateful for every single day, even the tough ones.  It makes you book a 10 year anniversary trip to Vegas, even when it is not the most prudent thing to do.  It allows you to empathize with a mother that you do not know, over the loss of her son that you will never know.  It permits you to post a slow-mo video of you doing a(n) (amazing) cannon ball into your sister’s pool on your Facebook page.  It reminds you to take pictures, videos, and write down funny things that your kids say.

It teaches you to live.

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Ten Years Down, A Lifetime To Go

I pulled down our wedding photos last night, looking for a group shot with my high school friends.  I could not find one, but I did enjoy looking through the photos from nearly 10 years ago, trying to pick out my favorites.

There is this one, where I am overcome with emotion and Mark is laughing at me:

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This one where you can see the pure joy, and perhaps too much champagne, in my smile:

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This one, because who doesn’t go to the bowling alley for lemon drops before their reception?

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And this one, our priest singing with the mariachi band:

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When I look at these photos, my first thought is, my God, we were kids!  Babies!  We knew nothing about marriage, and not that much about life in general.

We were “dating” for only two months before we booked the church for our wedding, we were formally engaged three months after that.  I say “dating” because, looking back, we were actually dating for years before that, we just did not think of it as dating at the time.  In fact, I knew that I was going to marry Mark five months BEFORE we started “dating,” when I caught the bouquet at my friend’s wedding.  And I never once doubted that.

But now, with the value of hindsight, I can see how maybe our families thought we were crazy!  When we told my parents we were engaged, my dad said to Mark, “Well, I guess you know what you are getting yourself into.”  But he did not.  We did not.

So THIS is my favorite wedding picture.

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Kind of weird, right?  You cannot even see our faces.  This was not planned, just a moment our photographer caught during the ceremony.  We were returning from lighting the unity candle and we had to walk around our chairs to sit back down.  We had been holding hands as we walked up the stairs, and we had to stretch our arms and we were just barely able to keep our fingertips intertwined to get around the chairs.

It would have been easier to just let go of each other’s hands, walk around the chairs, and then grab each other’s hands when we sat back down.  But we chose not to.  So, even though I just see two crazy kids when I look at most of these pictures, this picture reminds me that we must have known SOMETHING about marriage, even back then.

How many times, in 10 years of marriage, would it have been easier to just let go when faced with a shared obstacle, and regroup on the other side?  Dozens?  Probably more like hundreds, maybe thousands.

How many times could we have not backed each other up because we do not agree with each other’s parenting style?  How many times could we have been too tired at the end of a long day to have a conversation and just retreated to our own corners of the house?  How many times could Mark have just thought, lady, you are CRAZY, and walked away from me?  How many times could we have stopped treating each other like the love of our life, and started treating each other like the annoying housemate that we can be sometimes?  How many times would it have been easier to live separate lives in the same house?

Yeah, I think it must have been easier to let go thousands of times.  And though it conjures up a cheesy image of Jack and Rose saying, “I’ll never let go,” I’m just going to keep on reaching my arm out, pretty confident that I will find Mark’s hand reaching out for mine.

Ten years down, a lifetime to go.

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The Last Straw

Today was day 2 in a series of 3 very long days.  And I totally lost it.

We had baseball pictures this morning, one at 9:25, one at 10:25, Sullivan’s soccer game at 11:15 am and Brady’s soccer game at 4:30 pm.  No worries, I plan ahead.

I took Brady for pictures first.  I wanted to get one little picture with him and his cousin, second cousin actually.  (Mark has so many cousins that I worked with one of them for several years before he called me one day and told me he was my cousin.  “No,” I said, “I know all my cousins.  You must be related to my husband.”  And then Mark worked with his cousin’s wife for a few days before she told him that she thought her husband was his cousin.  And Mark told me he was once in cubscouts with one of his cousins for a couple years before they realized they were related.  So, it should be no surprise that one of Mark’s cousin’s daughters is, coincidentally, on Brady’s baseball team.)  Brady was uncooperative, and pretty much always is when it comes to pictures.

Mark came up to the field and we exchanged kids around 10 am.  I took one look at Sullivan and asked where his baseball hat was.  Blank stares from both the husband and the child.  My inner voice reminded me that this was not a big deal, not life or death, it does not REALLY matter if he is the only child in the team picture without a hat.  As it turns out, Mark was able to get home, retrieve the wayward hat, and get back to the field just in time for pictures.  So perhaps, while my inner voice was telling me it was not that big of a deal, my face must have looked like it was, in fact, that big of a deal.

“I don’t want to hold my glove or my bat!” Sullivan declared.

“Great.”

And he held neither.  Not a battle worth fighting, I had decided.

Sullivan was wearing his shin guards under his baseball uniform, and I had the rest of the soccer uniform in the car, so that he could change in the car and make it to soccer on time.

“I don’t want to play soccer today,” he said.

“What?!?”  I asked, confused.

Sullivan always wants to play soccer.  But Sullivan went to bed an hour and half past bedtime last night and Sullivan looked like he was in one of those moods in which he would keep his feet planted in the ground, even if faced with a tornado.  And he did.

I took him to the field and told him that maybe he would feel like playing once we got there.  Nope.  I told him I would take him out to a special lunch if he played.  Nope.  His coach tried to get him to play, his dad tried to get him to play.  Nope and nope.  So, we sat through the entire game with Sullivan sitting curled up next to my chair.

We came home and had lunch and I ordered everyone to bed, including myself.  I woke up from my nap, inexplicably, more tired and cranky.  I cooked bacon ahead of time, because by the time we would get home from Brady’s game, it would be pretty much dinner time.  I had planned ahead on having sandwiches when we got home.  I had bought ciabatta bread, and lunch meat, and bacon.  We made a couple stops on the way home to pick up a bag of chips and hot dog buns.

I was thrilled to be home for the day and was preparing to get dinner on the table when I pulled the ciabatta bread from off the top of the refrigerator and discovered it had gone moldy in the 1.5 days since I had bought it.  Last.  Straw.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!!!!!!!!”

I raised the moldy ciabatta high over my head and spiked it with impressive force into the garbage can.

I must have scared my boys.  All of them.

“Do you want me to run to Julian Brothers?” Mark asked.

“I don’t know.  I can’t even think right now.  Yes, fine, go to Julian Brothers.”

He went without another word.

First Brady, then Sullivan, then Colin came to me and wrapped their arms around me and we all stood in a group hug in the middle of the kitchen.

“I’m really sorry about your bread, Mom,” Brady said.

And just like that, my inner voice reminded me that this was not THAT big of a deal.  And I remembered that I live with the best four guys in the whole wide world, and remain grateful for another day, though hectic, together.

 

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On the Days When You Just Cannot Do It All

I would like to think that I kick a little ass on a daily basis.  I try to set realistic goals for each day and meet them.  Somedays, though, I cannot do it all.

My day started at 4:40 am with the unwelcome sound of my alarm clock.  I quickly dressed and got out running before I was awake enough to realize how ridiculous it is to be running before 5 am.  I came home and got ready for work, started the process of getting the big boys ready for school, and when my morning nanny came, me and Colin left. I dropped him off with my sister-in-law before I went to work for the day.

I left work late, per usual, and got home just in time to walk up to school to retrieve the bigs, came home to go through mail and school folders before starting dinner, at which time Mark and Colin arrived.  As soon as dinner was done, it was time to dress and leave for baseball/soccer practice.  It was a ‘divide and conquer’ night and we did not reconvene at home until 7:30 pm.  By the time all the boys were showered, it was close to 8:00 pm/bedtime.

And that is when I got cranky.  I can tell when I am cranky because as soon as the kids come up to me and say, “Mom,” I say, “No!” and put my hand up.  And then I snapped at Mark for talking to me while five people were talking to me, but he was only answering a question that I had asked him.  So then I had to take a deep breath and accept defeat in order to find my happy place.

I still wanted to clean the kitchen, and cook dinner for tomorrow, and fold two baskets of laundry, and pick up the living room, and put another load of laundry in, and get to the nursing to home to see my grandma for her birthday.  And then there was the fact that Colin had emptied a SandArt creation and I could feel the grit under my feet in every single room that I went into, and there was a pile of rocks in the middle of the living room floor, and Sully was coughing.  Incessantly.

So I did what I do best:  delegate and prioritize.  I cleaned the kitchen while the boys picked up the living room, Mark ran to the store for medication for Sully.  I decided not to cook dinner for tomorrow and let Mark handle that one on his own.  I figured the laundry had already been sitting, unfolded, for two days, so one more night is not going to matter too much, anyway, and I would much rather see my grandma than all that other stuff.

And I was at peace with not being able to do it all.  On my way to my grandma’s, I called my dad to make sure I could get in the door after 8:00 pm.  He said he did not know, but it would be a good “experiment.”  I was too tired for “experiments” tonight, so I accepted defeat (again) and came home where I have been sitting, quite happily, on my rear end since.  I mean, I had already decided that the laundry could wait and Mark agreed that he could manage dinner on his own tomorrow, so what is the point of doing it all now!

 

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Trying to leave soccer practice, I agreed he could bring whatever rocks he could carry.  Now they are all over my living room.

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The Worst Parenting Job

I have so many jobs; chief financial officer of our household, keeper of the family calendar, head chef, head nurse, housekeeper, and on and on.  I am better at some of those jobs than others, but the absolute most loathed job that I have is supply chain management, specifically, clothing procurement and storage.

It is the worst and I am the worst at it.  I have three boys to keep clothed and shoed.  Quite literally, one of them outgrows something nearly every day.  And if they have not outgrown it, it is a new season and someone needs sandals, or baseball cleats, or shorts, or a new coat, or all of the above.  And it is expensive, of course, but worse than that, I can never seem to find the time to go shopping.

And then there is the difficulty with storage.  We have a house that was built in 1941, when people did not have so many clothes.  And I have to attempt to keep three kids’ clothes in two tiny closets and two dressers.  So that means that every season, I have to spend a day swapping out summer and winter clothes.  A change of seasons means spending an entire day in a heap of clothes, trying to remember which pile is the ‘keep’ pile and which pile is the ‘donate’ pile, and which pile is for which kid, and getting confused about said piles at least a dozen times.

Last week, my dad told me I needed to buy bigger clothes for Colin because his pants were tight in the waist.  The poor man hit a very raw nerve.  Plus, it was the beginning of May, when my threshold for losing my sanity is significantly lower than normal.  He had to listen to a five minute tirade about my 18-hour days that ended with a very snippy, “So pardon ME for being a little behind on laundry!”  I do not lose my cool often, but when I do, I do it big.  I think I get that trait from my dad, so he probably had it coming, actually.

And then tonight, when I realized that I really need to do the seasonal closet swap this weekend, I thought I might start crying.  It is too much for one woman!  I cannot do it!

But then I remembered that I can and I do, just not very well.  And that is okay.  I mean, I have to have ONE flaw.

 

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I Have Come a Long Way, Baby

The first time I came home from college, a family member told me I had gotten fat.  I had been away at school for 5 or 6 weeks and I had put on 5 pounds or so.  That was when I became overly sensitive to people commenting on my body.  And that is when my relationship with food became something terrible.

I can remember standing in my dorm room, looking at myself in the mirror.  I was wearing a size 10 at that point, 1 size bigger than I had been when I graduated high school.  My love handles hung over the top of the jeans.  They had fit me when I started college, but they really did not anymore.  And I hated myself for it.  I started along a very dangerous path, eating only a banana, or a baked potato, or a yogurt for dinner.  I was not losing weight, though, because I ate garbage the rest of the day, but somehow thought if I severely restricted my dinner, I would lose weight.  And then there were more than a few occasions when I ate an entire sleeve of thin mints, or a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s, or 4 Poptarts, and then freaked out about the calories and made myself throw up.  It did not happen every day, but it happened enough.  I still did not lose weight, though, because it turns out I was a lot better at binging than purging.

That whole year, my weight went up and down by 10 or 15 pounds, and nearly every time I came home, someone would comment; sometimes positive, sometimes negative, but I always hated it.  I once was snooping through my younger sister’s notes from her friends (back in the good old days before texting) and I found a note where one of her friends had written “Jill got BIG!”  I hated that, too.  But mostly I hated myself.

And then one night I had a dream where I met myself as a little girl, and I just loved that little girl so much.  And when I woke up, I decided to love myself, and my relationship with food changed again.  I ate what I wanted, when I was hungry.  I embraced my larger body and learned to ignore both positive and negative comments about it.  I went up a size or two more.

I stayed approximately the same weight through the rest of my twenties, but when I turned 30, I gained four pounds in a short amount of time, and that led me to pursue losing weight.  At first, I simply counted calories, and then six months later, I started running.  My goal was to lose those four pounds, but when I discovered success, I kept going and lost 22 pounds.  This experience was like nothing I had ever done before.  I did it the right way, the healthy way, and I found a new love:  running.  I loved watching my body slim down and I was proud of my efforts.  Still, though, I bristled inside when people brought up my weight loss.  I got back down to a size 10, where I have stayed for the past 5 years.  Over the last couple of years, my weight has fluctuated some, so sometimes the size 10 fits better than others, but I have never been able to fit a particular pair of pants that I bought a couple  years back.  The cut is slimmer and I could never get them to button, but not for lack of trying!

I have been losing weight again and those pants finally fit, kind of.  I critiqued myself in the mirror this morning, taking note of the love handles hanging a bit over the sides.  I had a flashback to me being 18 and doing the same thing in my dorm room, same size pants and everything.  My first thought was, I cannot believe it took me 18 years to get back to exactly where I started.

But when I think about it, it is not the same at all.  I love my body now.  Of course, the same size feels a heck of a lot better when you are on the way down, instead of on the way up!  But it is more than that.  I am in awe of this body now.  It is strong and healthy, powerful.

I guess I have come a long way, baby.

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