“Mom, where is your family from in India?” Shaila asked me the other day.
“Your grandparents are from a state called Bihar.”
“Well, it’s in the North.” I explained, “If you were looking at a map of India, it would be at the top, near a country called Nepal.” I explained.
She looked at me blankly.
“Here, I’ll show you.” Rather than pulling out a handy map though, I had something much better.
“Mommy! What are you doing?!!” Shaila yelled at me, diva hands on hips and all.
I had pulled up a pant leg in the middle of the mall, figuring I could find some vein formation on my legs to show her the geographical landscape of India. It didn’t take long to find an imperfect asymmetrical peninsular shape of India on the map somewhere on my right cankle.
Or should I call it my rankle?
The map of India I had found even had a vein that looked like the Ganges river running right through it. If you felt it the upper-left corner, you could probably feel the mountainous ranges of Kashmir in it.
I don’t know when my legs became so veiny. It’s not something I particularly pay attention to since they are hibernating behind jeans, warm pajamas and yoga pants most of the year. But I know that the years have not been kind to them.
Previously one of my best physical features, my legs now look like they should be used to teach my kids lessons on geography. Instead of taking my kids to the planetarium, I can draw out the Big Dipper and Ursa Minor on my legs instead, giving them hours of joy as we trace the constellations and tell stories about vengeful Greek gods who cursed some women with varicosity.
Childbirth can be terribly unkind and humbling for many mothers. Despite the way that I represent myself on Facebook or on this blog, the pictures are often a facade. It’s like I am wearing one big SPANX girdle thingy and have found a way to wrap it around my life to make all the loose skin, muffin-top and puffy eyes that are going on, somehow look pretty.
There are days when I look back at my body pre-baby and then compare it to the one I have post-baby.
I will not tell you which side is “winning,” because technically, we are all “winners.” But I will say that my butt is a lot bigger, my hips a lot wider and even my feet have grown.
So, like I said, not calling anyone a winner or loser here, but do want to make sure that if “more” is “better” than I am doing something very well and am ahead of the pack. Like a fine wine, you could say I have improved.
I would say that this is all just part of the miracle of being a mother. That I find this all quite rewarding. But there are days where I don’t at all find it fair. Right now, Nico is going through a “I love my daddy so much and who the hell are you, woman who calls herself my mother?” kind of phase. He goes through this every few months and it does little for my ego as a parent.
Tonight he started crying when he realized I would be putting him to bed and not Daddy.
“Nooooo!” he yelled. “But I don’t want you. I want Daddy!”
In an attempt to distract him, I took off my knee high boots and rolled down my sock.
“Do you want to see Disneyworld? Florida?” I said, trying to find it somewhere on my legs. Like Murphy’s Law, I could spot Georgia, Kansas, Utah – lots of other states against the landscape of my legs.
But not Florida.
Not until later anyway. Just for the record, It’s on my left leg, upper thigh. It does sit next to California, but I’m not going to be a purist about my leg art.
I try not to let Nico’s words hurt. He’s too little to appreciate the 10 months I had with him in my belly. Maybe one day he will get that and some of the other ways I love him as a mother.
In the meantime, I am going to go and trace New Jersey on my right quad. There, it’s next to Wisconsin, but my kids are American and prone to geographical ignorance anyway, so I’m not too worried.