Last night, at a beautiful Italian restaurant, I started an impromptu game with my hubby and daughter. It was called “what I love about you.”
First, it was hubby’s turn. My daughter and I went back and forth, listing his many qualities: fantastic cooking skills, a gentle demeanor, and never-ending patience for the two feisty gals in his life. He didn’t say much during this, but his quiet beaming face spoke volumes. Next he and I did the same for our daughter. When we finished rejoicing in her, hubby looked at me expectantly and opened his mouth. But I didn’t let him do it. I couldn’t go there.
It’s just one of the things that is surprising me during this vacation, the first hubby and I have taken alone with our daughter. Sure, we’ve gone away before, but always with hubby’s parents, who take care of us in a way that can only be described as ridiculously amazing. With the little one about to turn six, we decided to do an experiment and see if we’d actually be able to go on a trip without an extra set or two of loving hands. And so far, it has been frustrating and enlightening in a why-can’t-I-just-turn-my-f’n-brain-off sort of way.
My first realization, which is not so fun, is that I’m totally obsessed with my body this week. And by obsessed, I mean I’m hating it. Yesterday, my daughter flicked sand around and some landed on my tummy. As I looked down at the clump hanging off my belly, which to me looked like a big roll of jelly, I felt a deep sense of shame. How had I let myself come to this? Yes, even as a size 2, I feel totally disgusting.
The second and fortunately much happier discovery is how much I’m relishing each moment with my hubby and daughter. I have to admit that I was nervous about spending so much time alone with them without the usual distractions around. What would we talk about? Would one of us feel left out or – even worse – would hubby or the kid get bored with me?
So far, it's been glorious. We’re building sandcastles, playing games, and either hubby or I is catching up on some shut-eye while the other gets QT with the kid. When we’re with the grandparents, we’re typically the third wheels on the greatest date you can ever possibly imagine. And that’s cool, because we get to go make out somewhere while the grandparents and kid build the most beautiful memories ever. Now here, on this little tropical island, it’s all about the three of us, and hubby and I simply save the making out part for when the kid is fast asleep.
Funny how both my body loathing and my worries about being a big yawn with my family pretty much boil down to the same thing: the deep belief that I’m not good enough for either of them. Even in paradise, I carry around this suffocating fear that I’m not worthy of them because I’m too fat or dull or because I have some other fatal flaw that will finally prove to them that I don’t deserve their love or the accolades they were ready to shower upon me at dinner last night.
Friends, let me tell you this in case you didn't know: all that self-loathing is tiresome and can wreck a life, not just a vacation.
Someday, when my daughter looks back on this awesome trip, I hope she recalls long, languid,and dreamy days when her mom and dad showed her just how much we adore her. Even more, I hope she forgets the moments when her mama gazed unhappily in the mirror, hating the real and imaginary imperfections magnified in the image before her. My kid deserves so much better than to inherit her mom’s angst. And you know what? So do I.
~By Wendy Widom, Families in the Loop