Life with Teenagers

Posts Tagged ‘body issues

gauge this

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“Mom can we go to the mall now?” My youngest teen has been home only moments and he sits typing away at the computer still wearing his jacket. It’s Sunday. It’s raining. And I’m in my polar bear lime green pajamas with my bowl of popcorn between my legs, lounging on the teen couch, and zoning out into a lifetime channel on-demand movie about Georgia O’Keeffe. Damn, she just left Steiglitz and is on her way to Taos. I sit up on the edge of the couch pretending to unwrap myself from the blankets and start shouting out orders to “Check the website,” “Oh, and make sure you get the hours of the store,” Find out how much this is going to cost” “and if they can do it today” He’s sending her letters- the bastard- and this is where she discovers the desert and the white animal bones. The list of directives would buy me more time with my older teen. I might even be able to finish another half hour of the movie before he would wander back in the darkened room and chastise me about the time. Not with this teen.
“Mom are you dressed? he asks. “They are open until six. It will cost about $25 for both ears. Want me to mapquest the way?”

The last place I want to be, other than the dreaded grocery store, is the mall. But I promised.

He has been texting me pleas for weeks. “This is the only thing I want, mom.” I don’t remind him that the third skateboard is the only thing he wanted. And that was after a bmx bike he is still paying me back for, and that was after two concert tickets to hear death metal bands. And that was after the dew tour. But ok, this is the same kid who mows my girlfriend’s lawn weekly with expert precision, parking the John Deere only inches from the wall in the garage, leaving plenty of room to spare on the side of the jeep. It’s the same kid who scored in the advanced level on his MCAS test for english and math with 100% in algebra, who agreed to stay in the honors math class even though he hates it, who is going to try the leaders group for his brother, even though it could tarnish his dark and brooding skater reputation.
“I’m agreeing to pierced ears only.”
“But mom, I really want the gauges.”

“Why can’t he just dye his hair blue, or pierce his nose, or his eyebrow, or wear all black with studded sneakers? I can deal with that,” I said to my girlfriend on our way out the door of the tattoo parlor only weeks before.
“I think gauges are a pretty cool look actually. But I can understand why you might want him to be a little older first,” she replied smiling.
“You know, your tattoo artist had the best book,” I said, while wrapping my arm around her waist on our walk to the car. “In the other book, I saw pictures of a grown man with a life-size color tattoo of his mother on his torso with the words ‘First my mother, now my friend.’ Now why on earth would anybody want to to do that?”
“Don’t tell your mother that,” she smiled.
“I’m serious. God. And it’s so permanent. Which brings me back to my son. If it just wasn’t so permanent. Do you realize he could have a giant hole in his earlobes and really regret that some day? Do you think I’m overreacting?” I asked her.
“Well, why don’t you let him get his ears pierced first and then see.”

I look over now at my son printing out the mapquest directions to the mall as I walk through the room in search of my shoes. My girlfriend’s moderate sentiments, and my own about the permanence of body disfigurement, are ringing in my ears.

Who am I kidding? I’m never going to get the deep rivulets of purple out of my inner thighs, or the silvery etchings of lines off of my lower belly. I can twist my body in a yoga pose, sweat and strain uphill on a power walk, maybe even eventually sculpt shapely arms and burn off some excess jiggle. But without surgery, I’m also never going to get the girls to stand upright again. No, the lines on my breasts from nursing two babies are indelibly marked. And what of it?

This is my body art. My girlfriend will soon have her black tribal back markings with their special significance only to her. My son may very well stretch his earlobes beyond a respectable pin prick size as a constant reminder of his skateboarding days. And when I pull on a pair of jeans, I will pause for a moment to let my fingertips trace the outline of the deep scars that childbirth left on my body as a permanent gauge of who I am and what is forever important to me.

And with that I pull on my sweatshirt, grab my keys, and look at my son. “Ok, I’m ready now if you are.”


Written by kmguay

September 28, 2009 at 1:54 am

Posted in body art, teenagers

Tagged with , , ,

mamas got a big butt

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“What’s for dinner mom?” says one of the teens passing me on his way through the kitchen.

I’m standing at the cutting board chopping lettuce, tomatoes, and yellow pepper and tossing them in my big metal mixing bowl. I motion to the bowl of pasta I just removed from the microwave and slid over to the side on the counter.

“Sweet! mac and cheese,” he says.

“Yep,” I answer back, “Just a little. And you and I can split this small piece of meatball calzone.”

I lean over to the oven and open the door to reveal two bread wrapped meat, cheese, and sauce wedges bubbling at the edges. I grab one and slice it in half into two tiny squares. I fill up more than half of our two plates with salad, the rest with two small spoonfuls of pasta and a postage-size piece of calzone. I fill the 16-yr-old’s plate full with a huge wedge, a pile of macaroni and not so much as a hint of a lettuce leaf and place all three plates on the table.

“Mom this is awesome,” says the 16-yr-old barely sitting and already with his mouth full of meat. “Hey listen.”

He motions to his brother and starts to rap.

I like big butts and I cannot lie”

The other teen chimes right in and they both sing in unison.

“You other brothers can’t deny”

Now they tap their hands together on the side of the table.

“When a girl walks in with that itty bitty waist, and that round thing all up in your face. You get sprung.”

The two of them break into laughter.

“That’s nice guys,” I say while taking a sip from my wine glass and shaking my head.

But ironically, my own butt has been on my mind all day. I have a wedding to attend on the weekend and a limited wardrobe these days. I take another sip of my wine and start contemplating my clothing options.

“So mom,” says the 16-yr-old sitting directly across from me, “I don’t understand why you don’t go for those really hot girly girl types.”

He stabs a forkful of noodles and jams them in his mouth. I’m way too weary for this tonight and so I try to change the subject.

“Are you wearing your brother’s shirt?” I say.

The other teen speaks up, “You bought him that shirt remember? And it had a long sleeve one too that went-”

“Yeah but I like it alone just as a t-shirt” his brother interrupts.

“And you bought him those skinny jeans. I like my skinny jeans too.” He stands up and backs away from the table to show me the full length of his jean-clad lower body.

“I think they look good on you,” I say back offering encouragement where its needed. And then I add, “Ugh. I don’t know when I’m going to feel good in a pair of jeans again.”

“You are not fat, mom,” says the 14-yr-old.

“Oh my god, I just let out the biggest fart,” says the 16-yr-old.

Ok, now the meal is officially over. I get up and take my wine glass with me into the other room. One teen heads straight for the bathroom, flipping on the fan and closing the door. The other teen sits himself down at the computer and starts instantly clicking away at the keyboard. And I catch a glimpse of myself in the wall-sized mirror on my way through the dining room to the living room. Even though I know better, I can’t resist the urge to turn my body sideways and try to look over one shoulder to get a good view of my backside.

“Does my butt look big?” I ask.

“Mom! that is like, so wrong on eight different levels, he says shaking his head at me now.

And I have to laugh because of course it is. It is so wrong. There is absolutely no right way to answer that question. My ex-husband doesn’t even try anymore and instead will look directly at me and say, “Oh no. I’m not touching that.” And my patient, thoughtful girlfriend will listen to me endlessly bemoan the the state of my body with its extra pounds of late and when I’m finally finished will pause and say something wonderful such as: “You are beautiful and I love your body and you know that I will support you with whatever you need.”



You know that I will support you with whatever you need?

Oh my god she thinks I AM fat. This is the thought that storms through my mind in a rush of panic. But I would never say anything back. I wouldn’t set her up for a game she can’t win.

No, there is no right way to answer the, “Does my butt look fat?” question. Unless, of course, you live with two teenage boys who honestly don’t have an opinion about the size of their mother’s behind. I contemplate all this while I turn my body in the other direction in front of the mirror, craning my neck to get another glimpse.

“Mom! for the last time you are not fat. You do not have a big butt,” says the teen at the computer who sees me do this a second time.

And he actually means it.

Ok, I’ll stop now. I’ll take it. I’ll take it and let up on myself for the rest of the night. I’ll consider it my reward. My reward and retribution for what just happened in the bathroom.

Written by kmguay

September 10, 2009 at 3:55 am

Posted in family, mothers, teenagers

Tagged with , , ,