Back to School & Coping Ahead

My kids started school yesterday. This summer went by so fast that it hardly seemed like summer at all, except for the sweltering 100-degree temps which felt a little too much like summer!

But anyway, school. Tuesday was Open House which is when all the students and their parents descend upon the school and get their schedules and meet their teachers and find their lockers and see their friends. It’s hectic and hot and fun and exciting and yet bittersweet for me for reasons that have nothing to do with my kids.

Back-to-School always brings up a lot of “stuff” for me. One year I can remember being at the first home football game and seeing all these moms with slender figures climbing the bleachers to their seats or chasing their kids to the concession stand and I distinctly remember saying to myself that “this time next year I will be thin like they are. I will not be a fat mom at the beginning of school next year.”

Well.

Guess what happened? I didn’t become a thin mom. Not the next year, or the next, or the year after that. The disappointment I felt for not meeting that goal is always there to greet me every year and it happened again this year at Open House – I saw all these adorable moms in their cute little summer dresses and shame and guilt instantly flooded me. I wrestled with it for a couple of days, then at my session with Emily, we talked about it. The thing is, I’ve accomplished a lot in the last 12 months. I have a whole new brain (metaphorically speaking) and I have a long list of coping skills to deal with unpleasant emotions (like shame and guilt). Emily asked me what the purpose was for the shame and guilt, why were they there? I couldn’t think of an answer to that question until I said that I think that the biggest part of it is just that it’s become a habit to think this way when school starts. Every year for so many years, I’ve felt this shame & guilt and just told myself I deserved it. But I don’t deserve it. Unless you’ve done something really horrible, like kicking puppies, no one deserves to feel guilt & shame unnecessarily. You especially don’t deserve it just because you haven’t lost weight.

And truth be told there was a lot going on that day that probably would have made me feel icky even if I was a size 4. During the Open House, I wasn’t feeling my best. I was sweating profusely (because the school has Open House for one hour. ONE HOUR. For the whole school. So many people…so, so many people.) and I was wearing my least favorite pair of jeans and my hair was flat (because SWEATY) and my makeup had slid off my face into a warm beige pool on the floor. I was not feeling like The SassyEffingPear at that point. I was feeling like my middle school self – bad skin, bad hair, and I’m pretty sure I awkwardly made a fool of myself in front of one of the teachers. IT WASN’T MY FINEST HOUR, OKAY???  So yeah, of course I let the shame & guilt in because those are familiar feelings! But they weren’t the appropriate feelings and had nothing to do with my weight.

So here’s the deal, the first home football game is coming up in a couple of weeks and I’m going to practice coping ahead for that because I’m 99% positive those emotions are going to come up again simply out of habit. I’m going to give myself lots of pep talks and wear my hair in a cute ponytail (because SWEATING) and put on my favorite game-appropriate clothes and spackle on my makeup and enjoy the heck out of the marching band and the cheerleaders and the general people-watching. My weight will not play a factor in how I feel about myself. SO HELP ME I will not be railroaded by my emotions this time.

Now it’s your turn: does August/September bring up “stuff” for you too? Or is there another time of year it might happen for you? Do you make it a practice to cope ahead for situations that bring up unpleasant emotions?

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8 thoughts on “Back to School & Coping Ahead

  1. August is that time for me. It is our anniversary & each year I promise myself that I am going to be the same size I was when my husband married me. I really don’t have any coping skills. I just try very hard not to not beat myself up. My husband has never let it bother him & he reminds me to stop feeling like crap because he loves me more every year. I just wish that I could just do it for him, but I guess I need to realize I need to do it for me.

    • I hear you. I have often thought the same thing when my anniversary rolls around. The thing you &I need to remember is that our husbands don’t love us for our bodies, they love our bodies because they house the women they love. 🙂

  2. As I was reading your post, I was thinking this could have been me writing it! I have those exact same feelings…every darn year. Last night was our first football game and there I was looking at all the cuter, skinny moms and just feeling so horrible about myself. I finally told myself that I had to quit doing this to myself..these past 9 months I’ve spent caring for my daughter who was diagnosed w/leukemia in November. I’ve gained 10 pounds because I don’t have much time for myself these days. She loves me, just as I am! As do my other kids and husband and really that’s all that matters!

  3. Seriously, we are sisters from different sets of parents. My “Open House” is our annual Fall block party. I LOVE “practice coping ahead for [the event]!!!”

  4. Christmas. Nowadays I only see my mother’s side of the family at Christmas (and weddings and funerals) and every year I hope to be thin, tanned, and super fit like they are. I never am. They are lovely people, but I just don’t feel like I fit in. My mum and I were the only overweight bookworms all my life. Christmas is summer here in Australia so they are all in shorts or short skirts looking fabulous while I bulge all over the place.

    My cousin said something nice a few years ago: “You were always the smart one.” It’s true. I have the brain of the family. But can that compare to amazing abs? When I’m with them, I don’t think so.

  5. Our annual trip to Chicago is what does it to me. Every year I vow that by the next time we go, I will be thinner…and each time, I am actually heavier than I was the previous year. It makes me so sad.

  6. Well, as you know, open house is not a problem for me 🙂 But I feel guilt and shame a LOT. Because, you know, I’m the “healthy quilter,” and I can’t keep at my lowest weight. at all. This really spoke to me “Unless you’ve done something really horrible, like kicking puppies, no one deserves to feel guilt & shame unnecessarily. You especially don’t deserve it just because you haven’t lost weight.” Now if I can internalize that.

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