I Wore a Bikini and Lived to Tell About It

bikini_suitcase_0614Every summer for the past few years, I’ve gone through a ritual of trying on bikinis…many, many bikinis. I’d search endlessly for the perfect one to flatter my mom-body and maybe even magically erase a few pounds. I started this annual search after realizing that there were women who looked just like me walking on beaches and wading in pools while daring to wear bikinis. (Such bravery!)

I didn’t look at middle-aged bikini wearers and think, “Ooohh…she’s a little old to be wearing a two-piece” or “Wow, look at that belly roll. She certainly doesn’t belong in a bikini.” Instead I thought, “What the hell is wrong with me that I don’t have the confidence to do the same?” Each year, I’d take a glance in the swimwear store’s sadistic dressing room mirror and resign myself to spending yet another summer in my old ten-pound-when-wet tankini with the stretchy panel guaranteed to flatten my stomach and push every abdominal organ up into my chest cavity.

But, the following beach season, determined not to pass my body issues onto Biggie and Smalls, I’d march right back into the bikini abyss. Because I’ve previously given you a tour of the effect of two pregnancies on my physique and because I’m human (duh!), you know this carcass is far from perfect. This fact continued to trouble me no matter how many times I tried to impress on the girls that no one is perfect and that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I just couldn’t manage to absorb that lesson myself.

But this summer, something miraculous happened. Someone sent me this blog post by Karen Lee of ‘Girl on Saturday’ titled ‘I Wear a Bikini Because…Fuck You.‘ (She had me at “fuck you.”) In the essay, Karen lists a number of reasons she wears a bikini including: 1) “I don’t give a shit,” 2) “My belly has earned it,” and 3) “I have daughters.” Now, THIS is the kind of woman I want to be! To say I had an epiphany wouldn’t be an exaggeration and I can’t thank Karen enough for the jolt out of the blue telling me to, once and for all, get the hell over myself!

And so I did. I tried on just a few bikinis this time before deciding on one from J.Crew. It is a lovely shade of “Matisse Blue,” AKA, bluish-greenish. The top is supportive enough for my ample bosom and the bottom is small and stringy enough to give the illusion that I actually have an ass.

But here’s the thing I’m most proud of…I actually wore it! In public! I took baby steps debuting it first with friends at a private pool in Hilton Head, South Carolina before stepping out on the beach where any number of people could have seen me and judged the tautness of my flesh and the appropriateness of a “woman of a certain age” wearing a bikini. But, you know what? Despite my fears, no one paid a damn bit of attention to me and I didn’t die of embarrassment. In fact, not one person gave a shit.

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Posing in my old trusty tankini with Smalls

On the other hand, I felt great! I was able to swim as close to naked as possible, a benefit also noted by Karen in her blog post, got some sun on my belly which hadn’t seen natural light in about fifteen years and, moreover, it didn’t take three days for my swimsuit to dry. Did I look great? Hell no! I looked like a 45 year old mother of two who tries to stay fit, but hasn’t been to yoga in weeks and sometimes has wine and cookies for dinner when the kids are in bed. Ad Man and the girls thought I looked beautiful, though, and I was happy. It may have taken me a few years to get here, but I’ve finally realized that’s all that matters.

One final note, the photos above are all you get. It’s going to require several more years of therapy for me to willingly post a picture of myself in a bikini!

 

Sweating with the Oldies

jeans_don't_fitMy birthday was last week. I’m forty-five years old, which doesn’t seem at all possible, but alas, the numbers don’t lie. Nor do I, actually. I’d so much rather someone know how old I am and say, “Wow, you look great for such an old broad” than lie about my age and have people think, “Damn…she looks rough for twenty-eight!” As much as I’d like to deny that I’m officially middle-aged, anyone who can multiply by two is aware of the undeniable truth. It’s unlikely, but if I do live past ninety, I probably won’t even realize that I’ve scored some bonus time.

This birthday also makes me just one year away from forty-six, the age my mom was when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Again, I’m not going to lie…that scares the shit out of me. Not to worry, I’m extremely conscientious about keeping up with my yearly doctors’ exams. I’ve been getting mammograms since I was twenty-six which means I’ve had my tit in a wringer nineteen times already. Squish! The good news is that, after having two kids and breastfeeding for a total of two years, my breasts are no longer very dense and hard to read on mammograms. See? Even droopy boobs can be a blessing in disguise. (I’ve been uncharacteristically optimistic lately. It’s kind of freaking me out.)

Instead of sitting around living in fear, though, I am dedicating the next year to eating right and getting back into tip-top shape. So, to kick off the year, Ad Man and I are just starting a cleanse. We actually had great results with the same cleanse about two years ago. It’s pretty hardcore. By the end of the six week program, we will have eliminated sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, gluten and most dairy from our diet. At the same time, we will add green smoothies for breakfast (a habit we had for about a year and a half before slacking off), meditation, nightly stretches, more sleep and, for me, more weight training and yoga. I tried to get Ad Man to do yoga with me once, but it wasn’t pretty. He prefers to run, go cycling or do kettlebell and I prefer him to do anything it takes to keep him sane.

I don’t want you to think that I’m going all preachy-preachy Gwyneth Paltrow on you. That’s not at all my intention. I’m just going to need all the support I can get, especially as I wean myself off my beloved sugar and caffeine and I know you, my dear readers, will keep me honest. In exchange, I’ll keep you posted on my progress. (I promise, there will be no horrifying “before” pictures of me in a workout bra and bike shorts.) If you want to join me, however, I’d greatly welcome the company! The cleanse we’re following is from the book Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again by Frank Lipman, M.D., which is a really informative read even if you’re not doing the cleanse.

So, let me know if you want to jump on the Operation Hot Bod bandwagon with me. I assure you, there will be no weigh-ins or public shaming. I actually haven’t stepped on a scale in years. I’d rather judge my progress by how my clothes feel and how my arms are looking in a sleeveless top. My goal is to deflate the old muffin top a bit and I swear, I will do my damnedest to hold off floppy “bingo arms” for as long as humanly possible. Living in Atlanta is actually good motivation for getting fit since, when it’s 90 degrees out with 90% humidity, I prefer to wear as little clothing as I can without scaring the neighbors. So, really, I’m doing this for them. You’re welcome, neighbors.

Awkward with Strangers

louie_subwayI’ve been looking for my next show to binge-watch while on the treadmill and folding laundry having recently finished ‘Call the Midwife’ and ‘Top of the Lake,’ both which I highly recommend. I decided to go with something a little lighter today and started the second season of Louis C.K.’s dark and very humorous sitcom ‘Louie.’ If you haven’t seen it yet, in ‘Louie,’ comedian Louis C.K. basically plays himself–a newly divorced father of two young daughters living in New York City.

There was a particular moment in the episode I watched that really struck a chord with me. Louie and his daughters are asleep and his pregnant sister is spending the night on his couch when she suddenly starts screaming in pain. Her yelling wakes both Louie and his neighbors, a lovely couple whom he’s never met. The neighbors come to Louie’s door to see if they can help, one man offering to help Louie get his sister to the hospital and his partner offering to stay with the sleeping kids.

Louie, visibly uncomfortable, seems paralyzed and incapable of making a decision until one of the neighbors says, “Brother, do not let your sister die from pain or lose her baby because you are awkward with strangers.” Later, after having this experience in the trenches together (not to worry, Louie’s sister’s excruciating pain is eliminated at the hospital with one enormous fart), Louie decides that he’d like to be friends with his neighbor. Louie, of course, is a social misfit and intimidated by making new friends so the ensuing conversation about getting together again is hilariously awkward.

I laughed my ass off at this episode, but could also completely relate. It made me wonder how many experiences I’ve missed out on because of social anxiety. Recently, I had a dentist appointment. It occurred to me afterward that so many of my actions relating to just this one appointment were driven by my own social weirdness. First, I dodged phone calls from the office attempting to confirm my appointment, instead, waiting for an email so I could respond online. The receptionist at the dentist’s office is a very sweet woman named Martha who I like very much and am comfortable chatting with in person so there was really no rational reason for me to dodge her calls.

I despise the telephone. I avoid calling even my closest friends and family members because I spend the entire conversation just waiting for the moment when I can get off the phone. I will also do just about anything to avoid having to call in an order for take-out. I get a tightness in my chest and a lump in my throat when I’m forced to make the call and a ridiculous sense of accomplishment when I manage to do so successfully. I know I get this from no stranger. My mother, who suffered from depression and anxiety, rarely answered the phone. My dad was always screening calls for her. Email and texting have been like a godsend for me and I know my mother and I would have kept in much better touch with each other if we’d had access to texting while she was alive.

It’s funny, my psychiatrist once asked what it was like for me to grow up with a depressed mother. I told him I didn’t actually realize she was depressed when I was a kid. I just thought she liked to sleep a lot. It’s only as I’ve gotten older and become better able identify my own depression and anxiety symptoms that I can point to similar behaviors I saw in my mom.

Anyway, back at my dentist appointment, I pulled into the parking garage and sat in my car for a minute because I didn’t want to get out at the same time the person next to me was exiting her car. I walked into the lobby of the office building and, forgetting what floor the dentist was on, did my damndest to squint at the directory rather than asking the security guard sitting next to it. I often have to search for words and forget people’s names when I’m nervous and was afraid I’d forget my doctor’s name if I had to ask the guard…as if that would be the worst thing in the world.

I walked to the elevator bank where there were numerous people milling about. I could access the floor I needed to go to by either the regular or express elevators so my mind spun while I tried to figure out which one would likely have fewer people riding on it. When I was able to get in an elevator alone, I was relieved. Small talk with the dentist and his assistant was uncomfortable and I was happy that I could no longer speak when he jammed my mouth full of cotton and dental tools. After the appointment, I walked into the bathroom of the office building hoping that no one else would be in there.

The thing is, few people can tell that I have problems with social anxiety. I’m an outwardly friendly, open person. Hell, I tell hundreds of people about the most personal issues in my life–depression, anxiety, grief, infertility, miscarriages–on a weekly basis via this blog. I’m lucky that my social anxiety is not crippling and is fairly well controlled with medication, but I know there are plenty of people who are not so lucky and spend their lives paralyzed by anxiety. There’s a soft spot in my heart for socially awkward people. I understand the constant battle they fight with their own minds just to get through all the normal human interactions one encounters each day.

In the ‘Louie’ episode, it wasn’t easy, but Louie managed to fight his own demons and make a new friend. I’ve met some of my closest friends in just the last few years. These are people with whom I actually spend time alone and occasionally even talk to on the telephone!  I am so incredibly grateful that I didn’t miss out on all the love, laughs, support and happiness they bring to my life because I’m awkward with strangers.

An Interview with Biggie and Smalls

three_on_a_swingAs part of the 30-day blogging challenge, my assignment today is to write a post that includes a new-to-me element, like an image or video. I’ve already done both, so I’ve decided to conduct an interview which I have not yet done (If you’ll recall, you guys conducted the interview with Kanye West, not me).

In considering who to interview, I looked far and wide, remembered that it’s 15 degrees (Fahrenheit!) outside and recommitted myself to not leaving the house. Luckily for you, dear readers, the witty, charming and only occasionally maddening Miss Biggie and Miss Smalls are here within the confines of my warm house. They’re also bored out of their skulls and ready to murder each other because they’ve been home on winter break for the last 2+ weeks. They’re now stuck here for yet another day with school cancelled due to the frigid weather.

You see, children in Atlanta don’t even own clothing warm enough for standing at bus stops with temperatures in the single digits. The former Chicagoan in me scoffs at the concept of calling off school for a “cold day,” while the former Los Angeleno in me is like, “Aw, HELL no! I’m going to sit my freezing ass down right here by this space heater and not move again until the temperature hits 50 degrees!”  But I digress.

Anyway, as you’ll see below, the girls had lots of insightful things to say about my current and former careers. They also really, really want cookies.

Q: What kind of work does mommy do?
Biggie: Taking care of us and doing your blog.
Smalls: Taking care of us and doing your blog. [Hmm…maybe I should ask Smalls the questions first.]

Q: What does Mommy do to take care of you?
Smalls: Giving us baths, kissing us goodnight, tucking us in at night…
Biggie: Making us food.
Smalls: Cookies! Can we have dessert?

Q: What do I do during the day when you’re at school?
Smalls: I don’t know. I’m at school.
Biggie: Dishes, laundry, clean the house, go get groceries, go get your nails done. Daddy says you just get coffee and tea.
[I give Ad Man a dirty look and kick him out of the room.]

Q: What should I do during the day?
Smalls: Go and get a surprise for us…like cookies or something. Or you should bake cookies.
Biggie: Go look at French Bulldogs. [The ladies of the house want a French Bulldog. Ad Man doesn’t want to clean up poop.]

Q: What kind of work did Mommy do before Biggie was born?
Smalls: I don’t know!  It was before she [Biggie] was even born!
Biggie: You were a lawyer. And you made a movie…a documentary. [At least someone has been paying attention.]

Q: Do you know what kind of lawyer Mommy was?
Smalls: What’s a lawyer? [Sigh.]
Biggie: You were someone who helped people who someone else thought did something bad. And you would defend them. [Yes, like representing the poor major film companies that didn’t want to pay their producers’ royalties.]

Q: What’s a blog?
Smalls: Something that you write down things on on a keyboard. People read it on the other part of the computer [pointing to the screen].
Biggie: Something some people write that goes out on the internet for people to read.

Q: What do you think mommy’s blog is about?
Smalls: You talk about what you do at your house like giving us baths and taking care of us.
Biggie: About your life. Like, a few days ago, you wrote about how messy our house was. [Specifically, Biggie’s bedroom.]

Q: If you had a blog, what would you write about?
Smalls: My family and friends.
Biggie: You could write anything. You could even write about your butt!  I would write about my friends and me.

Q: What do you think I should write about next?
Biggie: Why you started your blog…you know, so you could have something to do when we were gone. Or what you did before you started your blog, like where you lived and where you went to school and stuff.
Smalls: I don’t know. [Smalls is clearly starting to check out at this point.]

Q: Do you think I should spend more time or less time writing my blog?
Biggie: Less time so you can hang out with us more.
Smalls: More time so you can do a better job. Like if you messed up, you could do it again.

Q: What kind of school did mommy go to?
Smalls: A college?
Biggie: You went to elementary school, high school and college. You studied Geometry and Geography and French. [Huh?]

Interlude while the girls show me how they pretend to fall down.

Q: How do you think my life is different now than it was before I had kids?
Smalls: You have to take care of kids. You didn’t then.
Biggie: Mostly the same except for the part about having kids.
[Yep. Exactly the same…except for the having kids part.]

Q: Do you think mommy should go back to work full-time?
Biggie: No, because I want to hang out with you.
Smalls: No. You should stay and snuggle with us…because you do love my snuggling.

Q: Do you think mommy is funny?
Smalls: Yes. You say funny stuff.
Biggie: Yes. You make funny faces at us through the car window at the gas station. [I kill it at the gas station.]

Q: What do you like least about Mommy?
Biggie: You can sometimes be mean. Like about making my bed and cleaning my room.
Smalls: Sometimes you’re so busy you don’t get to play with me. [Like, for instance, when the thought of playing one more game of pretend with Littlest Pet Shop animals makes me want to bang my head against the wall.]

Interlude while the girls demonstrate their “mime-in-a-box” skills.

Q: What kind of work does Daddy do?
Smalls: Advertising. What does advertising mean? [OK…I feel better now.]
Biggie: He makes advertisements and commercials in a big office building.

Q: What kind of work do you want to do when you grow up?
Smalls: I don’t know. [She’ll drive around the country for a year in a smelly van with her boyfriend and his bandmates.]
Biggie: A veterinarian, an artist and a fashion designer. [She’ll change her major seven times.]

Q: Do you want to have kids when you grow up?
Smalls: No, It’s kinda scary because they cut open your belly. Do they always cut open your belly?
Me: Well, either they cut open your belly, which is called a c-section, like I had with you two, or usually the baby comes out of the mommy’s vagina.
Smalls: Eeeeewwwww! [This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed this, by the way.]
Biggie: I want to adopt two girls. [Sucker!]

Many thanks to my darling daughters for providing MommyEnnui’s readers with such a clear, detailed and accurate description of my life before and after children.  I suppose all that’s left for me now is to move on to blogging about my butt.  Stay tuned!

Who Is This MommyEnnui Anyway?

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This month, I’m participating in WordPress’s 30-Day Blog Challenge which means I’ll be posting or doing a new task to make MommyEnnui better every day. (See how positive and proactive I am in 2014?) The challenge is geared toward new … Continue reading