I'm lying back, propped up on on my elbows, on the side of a grassy hill in a public park in the city where I live. F is leaning back on my stomach, his baseball hat askew, his grubby hands reaching into the Pirate Booty bag. He pops the cheese puff in his mouth and reaches for another which he feeds to me, giggling as my tongue touches his white-coated fingers. The sun is out and there's a stillness in the air. It's in this moment that I can stop and be grateful that we can have this time together.
There are other moments, though, when I can admit to myself what a toll staying home as a full-time caregiver has taken on me, on my psyche, on my body. I carry around daily physical reminders of my struggle; the extra weight on my frame, more poundage than one of my five-year-olds, envelopes me. No, I haven't gained the weight from eating my kids' leftovers. It's just been from eating. Eating when I am tired. Eating when I am frustrated. Eating when I'm lonely and my self-doubt is consuming. Yes, it's nonsensical-- food doesn't make F sleep later in the morning; food doesn't make C put his shoes on more quickly; food doesn't form community around me; food doesn't give me worth or value.
And I am afraid to put into words how low the extra weight drags me down. I expect everyone I meet to judge me as harshly as I judge myself. And I wonder constantly why don't I just stop, why can't I just stop, how do others have this figured out and I don't. And sadly because I feel this way about myself, my memories will be the only reminders of hanging in the park with my two-year-old leaning up against me, giggling, because I would never allow a camera to capture the moment. I have loads of pictures of my sons, but none with me in them.