Seeing Myself in a Photo*

Yesterday, after P’s nap, we braved the heat and walked to pick up H & S from their first day of school.

(Side note: I am so over this heat. And when I say “so”, I mean “SO” over it. It’s supposed to be 42°C today. Gross.)

H is released from his classroom first, and I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction I’d get. Expecting tears and lots of overwhelmed emotions, I packed each kid a homemade sprinkle cookie to help with feelings. H could not have surprised me more yesterday. He came bounding out the classroom door, busting to show me an amazing Batman symbol he’d drawn in class. He said he had still been shy and didn’t know the names of any of his friends yet, but he was smiling and excited to tell me about his day. All this time, I worried and fretted for nothing. He’s such a champ.

We picked S up next. I saw her walk out the door with her storm cloud face on, and she promptly announced, “I had the worst first day of Grade One EVER.”

(She is nothing if not dramatic.)

Concerned, I tried to pull a few details from her, and the worst day had to do with a boy in her class who spent the day bothering her. Ready to throw my mom face on and go into the school, she finished her story by telling me she herself had gone to the teacher with her problem, and was being moved away from the boy. I was so proud of her for speaking up for herself! As soon as she got the boy woes off her chest, her storm cloud lifted and she decided it wasn’t such a bad day after all. Her teacher had made these amazing glow stick necklaces with stars for each child, telling them that she was so excited for them to “glow” in Grade One. By the time we got home, it had been the best day and she loved Grade One.

While we were all walking to school yesterday morning, M turned around and snapped a photo of me walking with the kids. I was immediately grateful to him for doing it, I am so often the one behind the camera I sometimes worry that the kids won’t have any real photos with me. We have selfies, but I don’t think they’re quite the same. I forgot he had taken it until yesterday afternoon, and I opened our shared drive to view it.

I’m going to get a little real here: it was hard to look at. I love that the kids and I all look happy. I’m holding H’s hand, and S is happily skipping ahead. I love that the moment was captured. But seeing myself in that photo was difficult. You know I’ve struggled with my eating habits and weight for  long time. I try hard to love the body that I’m in, but yesterday, in that photo, it was an awakening. The body I think I have in my head is not the one that appeared on the camera. Granted, I’m wearing a shirt that is loose and not particularly flattering, and I’m walking so it’s a weird angle… but it really hit home that I need to make some changes. I looked at for a long time, and while I made a conscious effort not to beat myself up (and I promise that I didn’t) the quiet voice in my head said, “You can do better.”

The truth is, I try hard to take care of everyone… except me. I’ll go through phases where I’ll eat well, exercise and remember that my health is important too, but then I slide and go through much longer periods where I eat (and feel) terribly. I’m in that place now. I’ve regained most of the weight I worked so hard to lose a year ago, and I’ve lost the confidence and peace that came with it. I’m not down about it, it just is what it is. It was a challenging year and life happened.

But, I can do better.

So, as I looked at that photo, I smiled at the joy captured on our faces, and recommitted to get my health back on track. Today I’m drinking lots of water and I didn’t have cookies for breakfast (which I may or may not have done yesterday). I’ve had to hit pause on my running because my hip issues have resurfaced, so I think I’m doing to try waking early to do Yoga for the time being. September will be my month of writing and stretching…

I think as I’m taking care of everyone else, that maybe it’s time to take care of me too.

 

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