The Last Stretch


“I don’t remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.”

Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year


Just as Week 35 of my pregnancy began, I woke up that weekend to an attack of  horrible itchy rash on my pregnant body. The angry rash spread all over without mercy. I went to my doctor during the week, who put me on antihistamine and ordered some blood tests. When I asked her about relief from the itching, she said perhaps I could try cold water or ice? She sent me home with an appointment to see her the next week.

Those two weeks were the worst thing I have experienced. I couldn’t sleep, because I would wake up in the middle of the night to terrible itching, and sit for hours with ice packs over my raw skin, because nothing else helped. The antihistamine did not work, even though it came to a point where I was taking three tablets a day. I tried aloe vera gel, oatmeal baths, oatmeal paste, none of which worked for beyond a couple of hours. I’ve never missed calamine lotion more in my life. In the summer, I was cold and shivering most of the time, from ice packs and cold showers. This went on for about ten days till I found myself sitting on my couch one morning, applying another ice pack and crying. If I couldn’t deal with this, how was I going to deal with labour and motherhood?

The finishing line
Photo Credit: schiiiinken via Compfight cc

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The Way We Look


“Look upon the world with loving eyes and the reflection everyone sees will contain love.” 

― Bryant McGill


A: Yes, I went to their house to meet her.

B: Did you see her children?

A: It was late by the time I got to their house. So only the oldest one was awake. The youngest is just 3 months old.

B: Now that she has three children, is she fat?

I interrupted in an exasperated tone, ‘How does that even matter? She’s just had a child!’

Later that evening, as I kept playing that conversation in my head, it hit me: it’s things like these that make even a five-year-old child have body image issues.

A meerkat crowned for its looks by fellow meerkat judges, leaving out other animals
Photo Credit: Jeanne Masar via Compfight cc

Why?

Because when we define a woman by the way she looks, when we use words like “fat”, “too thin”, “sexy eyes”, “big nose”, “chunky thighs”, “ugly”, “big boobs”, “pretty”,  we are reducing her entire existence to be the sum total of her body parts, labelling each, as if she’s a specimen to be dissected. We are telling her that it doesn’t matter if she’s brilliant, smart and intelligent, it doesn’t matter if she’s talented, if she has a successful career she loves, if she’s kind and generous, it doesn’t even matter if she’s a good human being, because her one sole purpose in life is to fall within the purview of what others consider to be “beautiful”. And let’s be clear here, it’s physical beauty we are after. Whoever cares about what’s on the inside? The heart and the mind are just organs to keep us alive, right?

Continue reading “The Way We Look”