BabyFat by Pauline Campos {a review}

BabyFatCover1+copy-2I’ve written before about the fact that I struggle with my self-image– most specifically my weight. In college I was 5’7″, 125 pounds, and a size 6. I was exactly average. I often wished for a couple curves, but overall I was pretty happy.

Now I am a good 75 pounds over that, although I am not taller, and definitely not a size 6. Before having kids, it wasn’t hard for me to lose weight if I worked hard at it an cleaned up the food I was eating. Now, five pregnancies later, my body can’t seem to let go. Or maybe I am eating trash and never moving my body. It’s something.

One of the very first chapters of Pauline Campos’s book Baby Fat: Adventures in Motherhood, Muffin Tops, and Trying to Stay Sane addresses this phrase: “you look good considering…”

hate this phrase. Because I know what “considering” means. I know why I look like I do. Why can’t people just stop with “you look good!”

Obviously, from the start of the memoir I was nodding right along.  In Baby Fat, Campos chronicles her weight loss (and gain) journey post-baby. And she does NOT hold back. She bares it all: every success and failure, every positive and negative thought. She is funny, but real.

While I can’t relate to the food sensitivities or allergies her family has, I totally know what it’s like to have the best intentions only to stumble into a pile of Twix. As Campos told herself, “Tomorrow will be different…” How many times have I repeated this mantra to myself (including last night when I riffled through the boys’ Halloween candy in search of chocolate paired with caramel)?

The book reads like Campos is giving you a peek into her diary, complete with date headings. And as you read, you feel like it too. Campos is not afraid to drop a swear word and let us know how she really feels about all the point-counting, calorie-watching she tries to do. One of my favorite lines straight from one of her chapter titles: “Diet is a bad, bad word”.

From my experience, the thing that really worked for me was cleaning up my eating habits, not going on a diet. Toward the end of her book, it seems that Campos is finding out the exact same thing. Of course knowing and doing are two entirely different things; something Campos and I also have in common.  It became obvious the more I read, the more we had in common in this battle of the bulge.

Even more clear is the message of accepting yourself for who you are NOW. Pauline struggles throughout her memoir to lose weight, but she makes it very clear that she loves her curves and she loves herself. This is something I need to work on more.

I have been trying to look at myself every day and list things that I love about me, and I really try to find one physical thing each day. Today it was my eyes, in case you wanted to know. I have pretty great blue eyes.

Anyway, you should check out Baby Fat. Not just because I liked it, but because it’s a quick, funny read that I think lots of women will relate to. Also because one of my tweets made chapter 26. But mostly because you will like the book.

Two lucky people are going to WIN the book! One will get a paper copy and one an e-copy! Enter in the Rafflecopter Widget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I was not paid to review this book, but Pauline is a friend of mine and sent me a free e-copy. My post is full of my honest opinions. The link is an affiliate, so if you buy her book I get like 10 cents or something. I’ll probably use it to buy more books for my classroom library.

Sunday Drive: The Preschooler Questions it All

Mommy? Can boys have ponytails?

It was quiet other than the Kidz Bop version of “What Does the Fox Say” playing in my car and the soft sound of Eddie singing along. In the space between that song and the next, his question floated into the front seat.

It muted the sound on the CD player.

Yes. I mean, if their hair is long enough for one of course. Why do you ask?

Eddie has always been curious about what is for boys and what is for girls. Every time I think we do a good job of getting him to understand that you can like whatever you want regardless of your gender, he comes back with more questions. I know this is because society (and the kids he plays with) tells him a different message than Cortney and I do.

Because kids say only girls can have ponytails.

It seems like at least once a week he is questioning some sort of gender stereotype. While sometimes I feel frustrated that he seems sad that something he loves if for girls, I am glad he keeps asking.

Well that is not true!  Your uncle Chris had really long hair when he was a teenager and he wore it in a ponytail sometimes.  And LOTS of rock stars have long hair they wear in ponytails. 

Eddie likes quite a few things that other kids might deem “girl stuff.” He likes the color pink sometimes (his favorite color changes with the day). He likes princesses; in fact one of his favorite movies is Cinderella. He has a doll. He likes to choose “girl” temporary tattoos. He thinks ponytails are pretty (he gets that from his dad) and told me once that a girl in his class had the prettiest two ponytails “in the wide world”.

But not all rock stars, right? Some have short hair like me. Sometimes kids laugh at things I like and say it’s for babies or for girls.

Eddie has also been worried about kids laughing at him.

This breaks my heart, but I know it’s normal. He wants kids to like him and he is afraid if they are laughing at him (or his choices) they won’t like him.

Well that isn’t very nice of them. When did something like that happen?

At school N– said that my tattoo is because I like baby bears. Pink baby bears.

I don’t see how baby bears is a baby thing OR a girl thing. If you like it, it’s a YOU thing.

He was quiet for a while after that. I know he was just thinking.  For as much as he chatters on and on to me, I know he is thinking even more. Rolling things over in his mind trying to find meaning and peace.

IMG_9548

I changed the subject.

So what character do you want to be for Wednesday at school? Which book character are you going to dress up as?

He was quick to answer.

I said I want to be Leo Lionni.

I smiled. What four-year old has a favorite author rather than character? My four-year old, that’s who.

Right, Eddie, but you are supposed to dress up like someone from one of his books that he wrote. Did you still want to be one of the dots from that Blue and Yellow story you read at school?

There was a pause.

Will kids laugh at me?

My stomach fell all the way to my seat. Why did he worry about these things? Did kids really laugh at him?  His teacher said all the kids liked him and that he was a leader. Was he just mistaken? Did he not believe he was good enough? Good grief, did my four-year old have low self-esteem??

Honey, why would they laugh at you? It’s a very creative idea!

Kids just laugh sometimes. I don’t want to be laughed at.

Are you sure they aren’t just smiling because they LIKE you and your ideas? Sometimes kids laugh when they think things and people are really cool. 

And then he must have tired of the subject because he started talking about the game he is currently obsessed with on Cortney’s tablet. Something about a farm.

The next day I picked up green posterboard (he decided to be the Green Dot from Little Blue and Little Yellowand Cortney and I constructed a sandwich board green dot for Eddie.

leo lionni green dot

He was a hit! His teacher thought it was very clever and creative, and I loved it because it was the easiest costume ever.

And nobody laughed at my buddy.

This is how our Sunday drives home from church go. We drive separately because we have Sunday School, and somewhere between church and the Starbucks drive through, Eddie’s thoughts pour out.

He asks all the questions and gives his theory on all the things from how great it would be to have coffee/hot chocolate with just me INSIDE Starbucks, to how he wonders what people look like in heaven.

Sometimes his questions break my heart, but each day I pray that he always feels comfortable enough with me to ask.

And I hope he knows that I will never, ever laugh at him.

I’m Good. Also, not.

I am now 3 months, 3 weeks postpartum.

This time around is so much better than the first time in many, many ways.

I mean, I don’t have postpartum depression.  That is sort of huge.

I still have the anxiety, although I am managing it much better.

But you know what? There are still some ways that this time is harder.

Now, I say harder.  I guess I mean different.  Or different difficult, because how do you compare to postpartum depression?  You don’t.

In fact, it’s hard for me to say the stuff that is difficult because almost everyone comes back with, “but hey, you don’t have PPD this time, right?  So?  WIN!?”

Well, yeah.  True.

And then I don’t know what to say.

Just because I don’t have PPD this time doesn’t make all that “other stuff” about being postpartum suddenly glorious and sparkley. But once someone sort of closes the door on the conversation with that remark, it’s hard not to feel like maybe I am making mountains of molehills by thinking anything else is challenging.

So anyway, when people ask me how it’s going, I always say, “GOOD!”  And then stop.

Not because it’s not “good,” but because it’s…well…different.  But if I say anything other than “good,” people start talking about how I don’t have PPD or how “YAY!  these are NORMAL problems!  Doesn’t that feel great?”

Um.

So to be honest, I am confused about how I am doing.

I mean…on the one hand, I am good.

Really.

Charlie is great (most of the time) and Eddie is…well…Eddie is three.

And I am…

Ok, I am going nuts.

Not PPD nuts, but nuts.

People?  MY HAIR IS FALLING OUT.

I know this is normal.  I remember it from after Eddie was born.  It just started falling out a the 3 month mark with Eddie and went for like…I don’t know…three months?  I can’t even remember.  This time it started at about 6 weeks and it’s just flying out like my head is getting paid per hair it evicts.

But not the greys.  No, sir.  Those crinkly little buggers are staying put.

My  hair falls out constantly and now my house looks like I never vacuum or swiffer…which is SO not true!  And my bathroom looks like a hurricane of loose hair blew in.  There are tumbleweeds o hair in the corners of the bathroom.

Even EDDIE has pointed this out.

You guys?  It is universally accepted that a loose hair roaming about is gross.  I HAVE A WHOLE CROP OF LOOSE HAIRS.

Also? No one tells you this before you get knocked up.

Nowhere in all of my knowledge of where babies come from and what happens after did anyone mention going almost bald.

Anyway.

There is also the issue of my body fat.

I know, I know…I just put a living, breathing, human that my body helped build into the world.  Be kind.

I have tried this be kind stuff.

I have not altered my diet much…the very same diet that had me LOSING WEIGHT during the end of my pregnancy…after Charlie was born and somehow, my body is all like, “WOO HOO!  DITCH THE HAIR, PACK ON THE POUNDS!”

I haven’t tried it or anything, but I am fairly certain I could just quit eating and still gain 15 pounds.

That is how insane my body is right now.

I know I have to exercise.  I know.  And I will.

But COME ON. I have not suddenly sat down on my butt and started popping Cheetos day in and day out.

Hardly.

I am trying to ride out this storm of pounds on, hair out.

But then?

THERE IS THE ACNE.

WHAT. THE. MESS?

So, let’s paint this picture:  luscious hair falls out.  greys stay in.  fat finds me.  zits congregate on my chin.

I’m like an overweight 80 year old tween.

I’m trying not to get down on myself.  I really am.

But I am surrounded by beautiful people.

I know they have things about themselves that bug them too…but why oh WHY do I feel mine are on display for the world to see?

Why am I looking at pictures from my sweet boy’s party and getting gaggy at the photos of me?

I know we are all our worst critic, but SERIOUSLY?

When does the feeling of ugly stop?

those are designer bags under my eyes

The mirror and I have a history.

When I was a baby, it would make me stop crying to set me in front of it (my parents still give me grief about this).

I have spent more time in front a mirror than anyone I know.

Not primping or perfecting the reflection.

But searching and questioning what I see.

Pimples and cowlicks and eyebrows and lips and wrinkles and sun damage and eye color and gray hairs a the number of chins and random face hairs and long eye lashes…all overly scrutinized…all imagined different at one time or another.

I have locked myself in the bathroom, plopped myself criss-cross-applesauce  on the counter, and cried to the mirror.

Please be different.

Please be stronger.

Please be better.

Please be braver.

Please be…more.

I have stood, tears streaming down my face, and yelled at the mirror: THIS IS NOT WHO I AM! WHY ARE YOU SHOWING ME THIS??

I have stripped down to nothing and chastised the mirror for what it showed me:  fat, out of shape, lazy.

I have smacked the mirror with the palm of my hand hoping, that like our TV from my childhood, I could knock the picture back to what looked acceptable to me.

Many, many times I have thought myself to look one way, only to have the mirror punch me in the face with the truth.

Or at least the truth I see when I look in the mirror.

“I wish you saw what the rest of the world sees,” I have heard my husband, my friends, my family say.

I do not know what this is.

When I look in the mirror I see flaws first.

I hate to admit that.

I want so badly to embrace the confidence I try to put out there.  I want the high self-esteem. Not even for myself, but for my boys.  It’s important to me to model what is a healthy attitude.

But many times, I don’t see whatever it is other people see.

But I am trying.

Today I saw a new again mom who was excited about her second son’s baptism.

I saw a bigger me than I wished, but I mostly didn’t mind.  I did just have a baby, after all.  And I am still lighter than I was when said baby was conceived.

I saw a good hair day.

I saw eyes that shined with joy.

I saw a nice smile.

I saw a wife and mother who tries really hard to be the best she can be…and when she falls short?  She tries again the next day.

In fact…this is what I see most days when I stand in front of the looking-glass.

Well, with the addition of a couple bags under my eyes from all the night feedings.

But I tell myself they are Coach bags.

Oh, and?  if Cort passes through the bathroom to our room while I am using the mirror, I see myself as a teenager again…

…because I am probably laughing.

And in that split second, I love myself.

Exactly how I am in the moment.

 This weeks prompt was “When I look in the mirror, I see…”

Also?  Happy birthday to my dad who taught me that it’s ok to get the “funniest looks from everyone we meet.”

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New book reviewed: Confessions of a Scary Mommy by Jill Smokler

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