Swim Suit Season

Tis the season for sunshine and swimming. But before I get to enjoy summer, I need a new bathing suit. It’s been years since I purchased a new one and figured this season’s bright colors would be a nice refresher to my wardrobe as I enjoy splash-splashing.

That’s all? You don’t want to try on more, Jared asked on a recent afternoon as we took turns holding Baby Girl and trying on suits.

No. I remember why I hate bathing suit shopping. It always make me feel fat and now my boobs are down to my knees, I told him.

Last summer, of course, I was pregnant and was so happy to be cooled down that I didn’t care what I looked like as I luxuriated in the river or soaked my feet in the kiddie pool.

Since having Baby Girl, I thought I was making headway on maintaining a positive body image and found myself cheering on women posting scathing comments about the new “dad bod” and women who share images of their stretch-marked selves.

When shopping, though, I realized I’m not as comfortable in my own skin as I thought I had become.

Do you want to go anywhere else, Jared asked.

No. I just want to go home. I’m exhausted and now I feel fat, I said.

You’re not, he said. Remember, you’re still breastfeeding Baby Girl. You make milk. That’s your super power.

Stop it. You’re going to make me cry.

Are you laughing?

No. I’m totally crying, I said, wiping tears off my face.

But I didn’t feel fat anymore.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

As I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed, I see picture after picture of smiling babies and children.

That is not the picture I have to post. Instead, it is of an 8-month-old screaming so vehemently that we left church early and scurried home.

Normally, I would have fed her at church and she would have calmed down and I would have had a chance to hear part of the sermon.

At the risk of sounding petulant, today, a day to celebrate me, I wore a dress I can’t breastfeed in just because it makes me feel pretty. I knew I was taking a chance, but I fed her before we left and church is only an hour and a half.

Baby Girl missed nap, too.

Hence, the combination of factors that led to a hysterically upset child and me, alternately laughing and crying, walking home as quickly as possible as people out and about curiously watched the spectacle that was us.

As soon as we walked into our house, the tears stopped. She ate and fell asleep cradled in my arms. Peaceful and beautiful.

THIS is motherhood.

Hectic, demanding, frustrating, emotionally and physically exhausting.

And then a moment of tranquility as she sleeps. And then a moment when her smile makes my heart burst. And then a moment of determination when I think I can’t give any more of myself and I do and am rewarded with another of her smiles that gives a piece back to me.

THIS is motherhood.

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Calling all kids, young and old

Sunday is Mother’s Day and we need your help celebrating.

We’re compiling a photo album of readers’ favorite pictures of mom, either by herself or with her kiddos.

Email your photos to anne.cruikshank@lee.net, along with names and any other information you would like to share about when and where the photo was snapped.

Photos will go up online this week!

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Mothers = survival (and adventure buddies)

Mothers, Greg Tollefson writes in this week’s column, are responsible for our survival, which can be uncertain at times in the Montana wilderness. His mom often reminded him of safety and made sure he was always well prepared before heading off.

And it was Mom who tended the blisters and sprains, poured salve on the sunburns and scrapes, and mended and replaced the tattered clothing.

His mom was adventurous herself, but turned in her compass after having children.

To be sure, there was a time when her wanderings were farther, wider and more adventurous. … Somehow though, after the war, and with the coming of family, she left that behind her and did her adventuring vicariously through her children. It was expected in those days.

Now, moms have different expectations.

Today’s children get to share the exhilaration of the wild with their mothers. These days, when a mom exhorts her children to tie on their life jackets, as often as not, she ties her own on, too. Then she takes the oars.

Greg’s musing made me think back on all the times my mom shared in adventure with us. Some of my fondest memories are from the canoe or inner tubes on the New River, or while avoiding fiberglass splinters on the crab boat as we dangled weighted lines into White Point Creek.

Even though I’ve moved 2,000 miles away, the confidence she instilled in me to try new things and chase the horizon is the same and has enabled me to whole-heartedly embrace Montana and all the adventure it provides.

Sometimes, we still have adventures together and I love sharing this Big Sky with her, whether it’s in the snow …

MomAndMeLoloPeak

… or sunshine …

MomAndMeYellowstone

I only wish we got to venture off together more often.

Make sure to read Greg’s full column here.

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Sometimes a girl just needs her mom

For the past five months I have felt like a girl again as I struggle to find clarity in the uncertainty that being pregnant brings.

Am I ingesting enough vitamins? Will Bob be healthy even if I don’t always sleep on my left side and occasionally eat French fries? Will my water break when my husband is busy in a harvest field on the Hi-Line and unreachable by phone? If I haven’t felt Bob kick yet does that mean something’s wrong? Will labor hurt as much as everyone says? What do I do with Bob at home? How do I raise a kind, functioning human being? As much as I love my job, will I want to be home with Bob more? How will my husband and I adjust to the new family dynamic?

So it was with great joy I spent the past 12 days with my mother who flew out to rub my belly bump, make sure I’m exercising and eating right, and assure me that if she could raise three kids I can manage one.

When I returned to the house after dropping her off at the airport for her return flight I curled up in my husband’s arms and broke into tears.

Are you alright, Jared asked.

Yes, I just miss mom already, I said.

Is that all, he asked.

Yes, I managed to say between sniffles while Jared patiently waited for the something else he knew I was holding back.

I’m scared, I said. Having mom here was comforting.

I’m scared, too. I have no idea how to raise babies, Jared said. But I’m willing to learn.

His comment reminded me of a conversation with mom during her visit. I admitted I was in more than a bit of denial that our lives are about to irrevocably change and unsure about everything. I often feel selfish and ungrateful for the precious gift that is Bob because I’m scared and anxious instead of blissful and overjoyed.

None of that matters, mom said.

Just love him.

 

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