I think that this bit’s mostly filler

“How have you been doing?”

I open my mouth to answer, and stare, as nothing comes out. I am so busy, I haven’t had a moment to sit and be. I have no idea how I am. I’m too busy to know. That’s how I am.

“I like your hair,” I finally respond.

We laugh. If my laughter has an edge, no one is blunt enough to say.

What makes a baby (dragon), as told by the Boychick

Once upon a time there was a blue boy bird and a blue boy dragon. They were really good friends and liked to fly together. Only one day the blue boy bird discovered he wasn’t a bird, he was really a blue boy dragon. And the two blue boy dragons loved each other and got married. One of the blue boy dragons had sperm and one of them had eggs, so they had seventy five hundred and two hundred and twenty five hundred babies. Half of them were girls and half of them were boys, and one of them was both and one of them was neither. The one who was both POOPED out of its shell and started dancing.

And then it was bedtime.


In related news, I enthusiastically recommend the book What Makes a Baby; very basic baby-making and where-did-I-come-from sex ed for very young children; I’d say ages 2-6, and not any younger just because it is a paper and not board book. It very skillfully avoids cissexism and heterocentricism while providing opportunities for kids to hear all about THEIR birth and family stories — which is what children this age are usually most interested in — and doesn’t overload with extraneous information about sex, orgasms, and so on. (Although I will say I’m looking forward to the next in the series that, I hope, will start addressing those issues more.)

The book is currently self-published — and very, very well done at that — with a limited supply remaining until it is re-issued by an independent publishing house, which a little bird hinted will happen in mid-2013. So if your kids are of an age, get it now; if not, make a note of the site for next year, because if you have or work with kids, you need to have this book.

Back fat remix

(Because there was more to say about my sixteen year old body, apparently. Whatever, I ain’t questioning the muse.)

When I was sixteenish, I lost a significant amount of weight. I didn’t do it on purpose, and I didn’t notice until a classmate made a big to-do about telling me to turn to the side and then proclaiming “Ah! Where’s Arwyn? It’s like she disappeared!” (I did not thank him.) I weighed somewhere in the vicinity of 100lb less than I do now (I don’t know my current weight, and only vaguely knew it then). I’m supposed to pine for that weight, that body, because I was sixteen and svelte and sexy, or something.

Except I was also getting migraines multiple times per week.

Except I was still “too fat”, still mocked and attacked in the halls, still told by my entire culture I was ugly and lazy and unfit merely by existing.

Except I was so anemic I couldn’t walk a mile, much less run it, not because I was “out of shape” but because my muscles were suffocating, demanding oxygen I couldn’t give to them because my red blood cells were too small or nonexistent.

Except I lost that weight by accidentally not eating, by having nothing but three giant Mountain Dews at school (thanks defunding of public schools, for making overpriced undernourishing vending machines the only way for our district to buy textbooks), near passing out in Drama after classes, eating whatever I could find as soon as I got home, barely eating at dinner an hour later because I was still stuffed (my stomach too-small from nearly 24 hours with nothing but liquids), and doing it all again the next day.

And this is the body I’m supposed to be nostalgic for, am supposed to think was “better” than the fatter, flappier, floppier, fitter one I have now? This is the body people call “healthier” just because it had less mass?

I have more pains now, and less energy, it’s true. But that’s aging (and an old roller coaster injury and endless parenting) doing its work on me, and is to some extent inevitable. I also have more skills, and fewer mood swings. Less anemia, and a broader palate. Two children, and an amazing lifemate. Fewer hang-ups, and more orgasms. More strength, and less fear of asking for help. Less self-hatred, and more compassion for that small, hurting, hurtful voice inside that calls me ugly. I have hands that soothe and heal, legs that take me wherever I ask them to, arms that carry my children no matter how big they get, a brain that’s clever and mostly kind, and scars from skin that’s stretched to protect me when I felt I would burst from the crazy, when my meds fucked me up, when I made two babies, when I fed two children, when I learned to run, when I relearned to walk, when I lived and lived and lived.

My body was never “perfect”, never acceptable by my society’s standards. My breasts grew in pointing down, my skin scarred silver stripes just from becoming a teen, and I have always, always been called fat in one form or another. I learned so early I had a choice of how to feel, give in to labels of “freak” and attack myself, or say “fuck you” to the entire flawed and too often fatal system. The idea we have to love our bodies, no matter the pain or difficulties they come with, is as oppressive as the one that says we can’t because we are “imperfect” for whatever of ten thousand supposed reasons, but we can, we CAN, if we choose, if we want — and for me, for fat and finally healing me, it feels revolutionary.

And even better, it feels fabulous.

Flappy arms and back folds and I don’t mind

Why would I buy the lie I could look like I did at 16 when I’m 30? Like I do at 30 when I’m 50?

Bodies change. I have carried two babies, breastfed two children, gone crazy and come back, gone to hell and physical therapy, burned, birthed, loved, lived, changed how I ate and moved and carried myself through it all. I will never look the way I did at 16 (hot) again; I will no longer look the way I do now at 30 (hot) in ten years, twenty (probably still hot, but maybe I won’t care anymore).

There was nothing I did then that I could replicate now to have the body I did at 16; I was, simply, 16. I could do what I did then, stay up all night and sleep in and not eat until dinner and have sex five times in a day and flirt and flirt and fight and flirt and I still won’t look like me then, not even if, for a short time, I weigh like me then. Like a teenager. Like someone who doesn’t know better, hasn’t learned better, doesn’t care for herself better.

And that’s fine. It’s fine. It’s all fine, and it will be fine, and I have no obligation (though every permission) to love or even tolerate any part of me, but I find little point in believing the delusion I can be as I was, either.

Maybe you see that as fatalist, defeatist. I see it as radical acceptance, of who I am, how I am, when I am. I could waste my energy trying to be who I am not anymore, I could. Or — what a miraculous word — I could be who I am now, fully and freely, spend my energy figuring that out, fleshing out the possibilities of me-now.

I choose me.

Postpartum periods

I’m on vacation with my family, both the one I was born into and the one I birthed, and I am bleeding. Vulva Baby is ten months; with the Boychick I had fourteen, a difference that might not seem hugely significant until faced directly with that half-year difference. I have with me one menstrual sponge — “just in case”, proving either precognition or paranoia — and not so much as a preemie cloth diaper else. I am surviving on simple tasks and stolen Tylenol.

So regale me please, in these my days of need, with tales of YOUR first postpartum periods. How quickly did your menstrual cycle return? Were you expecting it or were you surprised — pleasantly or otherwise? Were you across the continent from your pads and place and pieces of comfort? Did it return and bring with it body dysphoria? Do you long for the perfection of uterine transplants so you can discover their joy (or not) for yourself?

Tell me your stories, that I can curl around them like a too-hot rice pack, soothing and slightly too much at once, and so be comforted.