I love my family.
It’s not a “normal” family, though.
My family is my mom, but not my dad. He may have provided me with half of my genes, but that’s all he ever provided me with. Oh, and 50 dollars to help me get on my feet when I started college.
My family is my grandmother. My beautiful, kind, unbelievably compassionate and generous grandmother. And her husband, my “Oompa.” He may not be related by blood, but he is my grandfather.
Zach. Zach is my family. We aren’t married, and as of now have no plans on getting married. We are a family, though.
Zach’s parents are my family. Sure, they aren’t my in-laws technically, but why does it matter?
Sarah, my best friend in the world, is my family. We may have only known each other for 5 years, but she is like a sister to me. A sister that I never had, and a sister that I couldn’t live without.
When I think about my family, I couldn’t be happier. Who says I need a mother and a father? Who says I have to be married in order for Zach to be my family?
Normal is so overrated. Normal? Is outdated.
Living the American Dream is nice and all, but it is not what makes people happy. Having a big house with a nice lawn, surrounded by a white picket fence, is not what brings one to smile. Two kids, a boy and a girl, a dog, and an apple pie sitting on the windowsill? Well, sure, that would be nice. And, yes, I want that. I can’t lie: I want to own a house, paint the walls beautiful colors, bake cookies for Alex as a special snack after a long day at school. But all of that does not guarantee happiness.
What does guarantee happiness? I have no clue.
But my family? Guarantees my happiness.
I like to blame the fact that I got fat on pregnancy and nursing. I gained the typical 35 pounds while pregnant with Alex, and I like to think that my ravenous hunger while nursing contributed to my weight gain.
In reality, it’s not because I was simply eating more while nursing or holding on to that pregnancy weight. In reality, it’s because I started cooking. And I blame my son for that.
Cooking was never something that I didn’t like, but it wasn’t something I did a whole lot of. I mean, I was in college. I had professionals cooking for me at every single meal. When I didn’t want what was being served, I went out to eat. Or ordered pizza.
But then I had Alex. And, you see, Alex was a picky baby. He was picky about how he wanted to be held, and if you weren’t complying to his demands he would wail. There was a three week period during his first two months of life when I was the only person that could put him to sleep. I tucked his little legs under his belly and held him on my chest. It was a very specific position, with a certain place to put my left hand and a certain place to put my right; a certain tilt of his head resting on a certain place on my chest.
While he has always been rather independent, even as a young baby, when he was tired, not feeling well, or otherwise feeling the need for some lovin’, he needed to be held. So, he spent the vast majority of his time on my chest as a baby. As fun as it is to hold a baby on your chest, not only is it tiring, but also it is boring. What, exactly, was I supposed to do? Thank GOD for slings.
When you have to wear a baby on your chest for 8 hours of the day (I won’t mention night times because that was a whole different story involving rocking to sleep for half an hour and then hoping he would sleep by himself for more than five seconds) there is only so much you can do. Especially when the person being worn on your chest won’t let you sit down. No, it wasn’t just that he had to be held. He had to be held and you had to be standing. And not just standing still. No, you had to be rocking back and forth or somehow moving around.
So, I started cooking.
Anyone who has ventured into cooking for the first time probably knows that there are so many recipes out there. And the ones that sound the best? Aren’t exactly the ones that are low in calories. I turned to many an online-recipe-blog, picked the recipes that sounded the best, and started making them. Pot roasts, stuffed chicken, casseroles, stir fry, stew, cheesy-fatty-starchy-calorie-filled goodness. I won’t even mention the secrets I learned when it comes to baking.
So, I got fat. I got fat while standing on my feet wearing my kid on my chest. I baked cookies, made bread from scratch, and learned a lot about food. My brain filled with knowledge and my butt filled with adipose.
When I finally realized that I had to make a change, I was scared. What are we going to eat? I don’t have a single recipe that is okay for Weight Watchers! I can’t even use butter when making eggs?! I can’t bake cookies anymore?
But I figured it out. And my love for cooking grew exponentially as I discovered that not only is it still fun to cook while not using added fats, it’s more fun.
So, my brain filled with knowledge about the healthy way to stir fry vegetables and my butt slowly lost the adipose. Alex no longer needed to be worn all the time, and instead began “helping” me cook.
“Help me stir! Want to help. Have a piece of pepper? Pour the pepper in the pan? Stir the veggies! Need to help, Mommy. Need to help.”
I can blame my baby for making me fat, for sure. But I can also blame him for making me not care that he made me fat. It was worth it.