Ordering a bathing suit online is a ridiculous idea. But when the company that makes the running shorts that make me feel hot, not just athletic, had a sale – I took the bait.
It is the time of the year that I have the Great Bikini Debate. Last summer I tried to embrace the stretch marks. I gave it a solid effort. I even tried to tan those mofos. If I am 100% honest – the red bikini took a backseat to the trusty one piece the great majority of the time. And now here I am again, another year older, another year closer to the Year I Should Really Stop Wearing A Two Piece. (I am not sure when that is, exactly, but I am certain it exists.)
Standing in my bathroom in the new two piece I could acknowledge that this summer’s bikini body is slightly more toned than last year’s. I have run my ass off this year and it is starting to show. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Bend over. Sit down. Eh. It is what it is but it is unlikely that it is gonna get better than it is right now, right? The fit is ok. But the color?
Brown. The brown bikini was the only sale suit in my size. I just don’t know about brown.
I called to Emily. “Come here. What do you think?”
She just stood there with her hand on her tiny little hip. “Hmmm. That’s a tricky question. I’m trying to decide what you want me to say.” Damn kid.
“The truth,” I answer.
“Well, you have really big boobs and that top is really big like a lot of fabric but weirdly it makes your boobs look not as noticeable. And I think it’s ok that your stomach is like, well, you know like that because you had two babies and you’re a great mom and you look pretty.” She paused to take a breath. “Do you like it?”
I love her. I do. I should have been more clear, I suppose. “Do you like this color brown?” Sigh.
If the bikini makes its presence known this summer than the excitement will be two-fold. My stomach and the stretch marks there really get all the press. But it is high time that the wreckage on my hips and lower back get a little face time. The 2014 new ink highlights them nicely. Last summer’s motto seemed to be “if you can’t tone it, tan it.” This summer it is looking like I am embracing the “if you can’t tone it, tattoo it” philosophy. Someday perhaps I will get to that level of peace where I don’t even have this conversation with myself. Maybe next spring when I am trying on bathing suits for my 39th summer I will only ask myself the question that my sweet Emily June asked me – “Do I like it?” Maybe. Someday.
Some days are just like every other day. You wake. You go about your routine. You look at the clock and the time ticks by, sometimes quickly, sometimes painfully slowly, but the day carries on and before you know it you are brushing your teeth and preparing to climb in to bed and do it all again tomorrow.
Yesterday was an odd one. I did things I don’t normally do. Some of those things were very small but when I stepped back from the day and sized it up they all added up. And this morning, I feel different.
I sat down yesterday morning with a newspaper. I did not open my laptop and have coffee. I sat down with the paper. A real, live newspaper. I fear Chapel Hill News is suffering if they are delivering their paper for free to neighboring towns. I can’t count on this paper sticking around in printed form if they have resorted to giving it away but I will enjoy it while it lasts. A newspaper and a cup of coffee. That was unusual.
Later in the morning I met a new friend and her son and we walked and talked. I was late. I am never late. I cancel if I am going to be late. I was late. That is unlike me. And I did not take a single picture. I did not check my phone. Also not typical behavior. We walked and talked.
She mentioned the paralyzing freedom of having every day be so full of options. I’d not considered that fully before. The lack of structure that can be present in the life of the mother who chooses to stay at home – it can have an almost crippling presence. “But you can do whatever you want,” a friend might note. Not really. Somedays I do not do a damn thing that is “what I want.” And yet daily I am overcome with gratitude. I am all at once living the life that I have chosen, that I am deeply grateful for, and not actually very free at all some days.
Later in the evening I did another thing I rarely do.
I stopped and had two beers at a local bar in town. “Have a seat,” said a gentleman as he slid over and offered me a bar stool. It had been so long I almost said “Oh, no, no.” I couldn’t possibly sit down. I didn’t have that kind of time. I would just stand, drink a beer, and hightail it home before Lucy woke up or MQD called or … or what? I turned in to a pumpkin?
I slid in to a barstool and I felt my shoulders get lower. I felt my back get longer. I was relaxed, in my element. It had been too long. A man introduced himself, “I am Jerry, by the way.”
I smiled. “The ByTheWays, I know a lot of your people, a friendly bunch you are. I meet a ByTheWay almost everywhere I go.” He paused. And then he smiled. I apologized for my flip remark. “I spent a decade behind the bar and I have a canned response to everything, I am sorry. I haven’t been out in so damn long that that is all that’s coming to me now. Forgive me?”
We chatted about kids and our quaint little downtown. The fellow to my left interrupted me, eventually. “What are you now? Just a housewife?” I felt myself stand up straighter. “Yep. And it is fucking awesome.” I could see that he was disappointed. I think he’d been trying to rile me up and I didn’t bite. I threw him a bone. “You? What are you? Just an asshole? A prick? What name do you prefer?” He seemed pleased with himself, he’d gotten under my skin.
I smiled again and let him down easy. “I’m sorry… but you have got to be kidding me. “Just a housewife?” Come on, man, it is the 21st century. Cut the little woman some slack.” I turned to Mr. ByTheWay and said “It was really nice to meet you.” I turned back to my right and said “And you, watch your mouth,” flashing him a million dollar smile.
I joined my girlfriends outside and laughed some more. We talked about our kids. It was easy. It was awkward for me to realize that I actually enjoyed sitting at a table with a bunch of women having easy conversation just as much if not more than the jocular and sometimes acidic back and forth of strangers at a bar. While outside a friend mentioned a tattoo I’ve had for years. A devil-woman, nursing her baby. I got it ages ago to symbolize the union between the hell-raiser I had been and the mother I was becoming. A timely reminder that I do not have to choose. The comfort I feel at a table of women does not negate the entertainment of a seat at the bar.
It is good to do the things that we do not usually do. Read the newspaper. Turn your phone off. Go ahead and be late. Stop for a beer.
This morning I went outside to water the flowers and said “C’mon, Goose, we need to hurry up.” Hurry. Towards what? The next task? I stopped. I poured some water on her feet and she laughed. I took a picture of the snapdragons quickly and then I put my phone inside. We sat on the deck. I don’t know for how long.
If I am quiet in the coming weeks, do not be worried. I am going back to school. I have enrolled in a self-taught, self-guided and intensive course on the Art of Relaxing. Wish me luck.
So, Em has decided she wants to call Mike “Dad” after we get married. Daddy will stay Daddy and Mike can be Dad. It’s pretty cute. The other night I asked her if that was still her plan. She says “yup.” Mike says “You can try it out if you want, see how it sounds.” She rolls her eyes and says “Well, what would I say?” Mike says “Whatever you want…”
She pauses for dramatic effect…. “Dad, can I get a tattoo?”
Day 43: Keep a proper account of your day.
5:45 Wake up and have to pee super bad but it is freezing in our room. That kind of freezing where you try and stay in one spot in your bed because if you move you will aggravate the cocoon of warmth you’ve created. I consider getting up to pee and decide that Em would wake up. I reach over and scooted her little self in to the crook in my arm where she fits and close my eyes again.
6:10 I’m up. No sleep for the weary, evidently. The headache I had this morning around 2am seems to have subsided. Ever since I have had my IUD removed I have been returned to a regular menstrual cycle, complete with regular premenstrual symptoms. Raging headaches and rock hard ginormous boobs for three or four days at the end of my cycle. I almost welcome the headache. It reminds me I am just about to get my period, not actually knocked up, as the Gigantor boobs might suggest.
Remember to take my Basal Body temp this morning. Anyone know if you need to do it immediately upon waking up? Or can you do it a few minutes later, so long as you don’t get out of bed? I typically balance my checkbook on my phone when I first wake up and check my email. (Nerd.) So, I am sometimes awake for ten minutes or so before I get up. So, I am awake… but not moving?
6:30 Alarm goes off. 6:31 text from MQD. This makes me smile. Sneak outta bed without waking li’l lady and jump in the shower.
6:50 Clean and ready to rock. Quick chat with MQD. It’s freezing in our house. Contemplate sealing up the windows this winter while I dry my hair. Excited to use our fire place this winter.
7:30 Em and I make the bed and “chit chat” about the logic behind not putting on the same underwear after you take a shower at night. She likes her underwear to match her outfit, so she puts the same ones on after she showers and changes them in the morning after she decides what she’s wearing. I call her Funky Butt the rest of the morning. This is hilarious to her. Naturally.
8:05 Leave for work with coffee, last night’s carbtastic leftovers for lunch. Call MQD and say hey. He’s making good time and headed back to NC after another show. Damn, kids and their rock music.
8:10 Stop and get gas and check my air pressure in my tires. Resist the temptation to get M&Ms. Go, me.
8:17 Drop Em at school. Remember that it is her buddy’s birthday and give her a big hug. Listen to the Steve from Blue’s Clues Moth Podcast on my way in and get a good chuckle.
8:32 Arrive at work and do final preparations for insurance audit. Review yesterday’s notes from a staff meeting. Complete a customer invoice… blah blah blah….
9:30 Auditor has still not arrived. Consider eating my lunch for the second time since I have arrived at work.
9:45 MQD called and it reminds me again that when he’s gone for even 24 hours I really miss him. This bodes well for our future. Loving someone might be easier than liking someone long term. And I consistently like that guy.
10:00 Auditor still not here. Make a pot of coffee and consider eating my lunch. Again.
10:15 Auditor arrives and I spend the next hour nodding and smiling and examining this gal’s amazing high lights. Seriously, if i were to suddenly turn in to one of those saccharine sweet Southern twenty-somethings that routinely get highlights I’d ask her where she gets her hair did.
11:36 Really might eat my lunch. Reconciling the books for last month and then it’s on like Donkey Kong.
3ish to 5ish. Drink a heinous amount of coffee and discover I semi-screwed up what I did earlier. Redo.
5 Split for Em’s school and listened to some Rev Horton Heat. Stopped at the grocery store for items needed for Em’s cooking experiment. I guess they are making Pumpkin pie this week. Yum.
6ish We get home and I decide that dinner is not something I am particularly interested in making. Steamed spiced shrimp and salad it will be. Em has her buddy over for some hide and seek. MQD comes home from work and kisses me. One of my favorite moments of the whole, entire day. MQD and I chat in the kitchen while I finish dinner.
7ish We eat dinner and laugh a lot. This is a good example of dinner time at our house. I decide that today is as good a time as any to tell Em I have a bone to pick with her. The other day she informed me that she and MQD are magical, but she “wasn’t so sure about” me. I inform her that Uncle Scott had a clown that did magic tricks at his birthday when he was a kid. And that clown was Yours Truly. Naturally she demands I “prove it.” Moments later I am making the “Butterfly” fly away and it makes me misty. Performing Pop-Pop’s magic tricks 30 years after I learned them makes me smile and wish our family wasn’t all so far away from each other. Em’s mind is sufficiently blown with the butterfly trick but I wow her once more by rubbing a penny in to my arm and pulling it out of her ear.
7:40 We decide to look through the last year in pictures. Now I am blown away. Em has grown up a lot. So has MQD. And me I just keep gettign younger. ;)
8ish Tuck Em in to bed and read “Big Plans.” This book is SUPER spectacular. Props to Bethany for pointing it out to me.
Return downstairs and commence “Wedding Planning.” Wedding Planning is a game MQD and I play where we sit around the house with the TV off and drink wine and beer and laugh and cry (well, I do) and we rehash the who/what/where/when and establish yet again that we kind of have a lot left to decide, and kind of have a lot already figured out.
Wedding Planning has two side conversations running. 1. MQD insists on relating everything back to Dimebag Darrell and how really great Pantera is… and 2. Texting with my new friend who is right at the epicenter of the hurt and the confusion of a fresh divorce. If you’d have told me I’d marry a man that likes to wax poetic about various genres of metal or that I’d ever be out the other side of my own divorce enough to talk to someone about theirs… I’d have not believed you.
9:30ish Wedding Planning SUCCESS!!! Brand new idea for the wedding tattoos has us JAZZED and ready to skip work tomorrow and get them pronto. Yes, Wedding Planning includes lengthy conversations about our tattoos, since we both find this more exciting than napkins.
10ish to 11ish Temporary reprieve from Wedding Planning so MQD can run out to confirm that his BFF is taking a nap with her cellphone off and has not been abducted by an alien. I watch Glee (which was outrageously disappointing this week) and fold laundry.
11ish to Midnight MQD eats ice cream out of the container with peanut butter. He smiles like he is a kid at the circus.
Midnight Hit the sack. I’m gonna run it back again tomorrow….