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What's Your Why?

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

You know those annoying parents who carry a bazillion photos of their kids around in their wallets? Or I guess that would be on their dumbphones (yes, I went there) these days. Well, the fact is, I'm sort of one of them. I've been a big mama and a smaller mama, but I'm always a mama nonetheless!

In 1997, I was coming off one of those foolish prodigal journeys. No offense to the people I knew at the time, but I really had been sort of frolicking around in the pigpen. I won't go into too many details (that's a whole other book, folks), but long story short, I found out shortly thereafter that I was pregnant. This was not part of the plan. This was not good. Not only was it going to ruin my plans to live in some Chicago high-rise by myself, writing bestsellers on an old typewriter, but it was not going to bode well with my family after my Christian upbringing. I was 27, and this was long before SIXTEEN AND PREGNANT made everyone think that single parenthood meant having a "reality" show to pay for everything (have you seen the houses those girls end up living in? As a single mom, I lived on a futon for duration of my pregnancy, and I could barely afford maternity clothes. The Value City clearance rack was a real blessing to me at that time, since MTV wasn't cutting me checks.) It was a difficult time in every way - physically, financially, and emotionally - and I remember being so anxious and depressed and embarrassed that I wouldn't even be in my sister's wedding. The day my daughter was born, on September 16 that year, I cried...and I have to admit it wasn't all tears of joy. I was terrified. Single parenthood was not on my bucket list, but suddenly, I was a mom, with no daddy in the picture.

Today, I can look back and say that I KNOW God gave me that baby to save me from myself. I know where my head was at the time, and it was not in a good place, but when I became responsible for this other little life, I wasn't about to keep screwing up or surrounding myself with the wrong people. I tell my darling daughter all the time that she is my angel, because God sent her to me when I needed her most, maybe even more than she would need me. My life as a single mama has not been easy, but I wouldn't trade it for anything, and she was an amazingly wonderful kiddo who has been, in many ways, my right-hand person, through thick and thin - both figuratively and, well...FIGURE-atively.

Cissy is about to graduate at the end of this month, and I am already on the verge of tears when I think about it. She is my one and only baby, so this graduation will likely be my first and last to go through, unless I go the way of Janet Jackson and end up with some very late-in-life labor pains, though I have no plans to do so. (If Mr. Neon wants kids, he'd better hurry up and find me and walk me down that aisle, before that little factory goes out of biz.)

Anyway, why am I telling Sparkpeople this about my kiddo? Because SHE is my why. She is the reason I've done many things in life, the reason I get up in the morning on most days. She is the reason I crawl out from under the crumbling I so often do. She is the reason I've taken and held jobs I hated. She is the reason I could laugh when things were horrible. She is the reason I've tried to correct mistakes. And, yes, she is the main reason that I went on this weight loss journey.

I know that the psychologists and other -ists say we must lose weight for ourselves, but the fact is that I am much more concerned about others than I am about Autie. It may sound emo or negative, but if I'm being honest, I'm not exactly in my fan club. I am, however, rooting for Cissy's mom. Why? Because Cissy needs her mom. Because I don't want Cissy to walk in on her mom's 67th birthday and find her mom dead on the bathroom floor from a heart attack. Because when Cissy turns that tassel this month, her mom needs to be sitting in the audience, joyful and proud of the young woman she's grown up to be. Because when Cissy's own Mr. Neon finds her and walks her down that aisle, her mom should be there to cry and hug her and give her away. Because Cissy herself has struggled with weight issues her whole life, and she deserves to be encouraged by what her mom practices as much as what she preaches. Because that amazing young woman has lost one uncle, two aunts, a great-grandmother, and both of her grandparents already in her short 18 years, and she doesn't need to lose her mother too. Because that young lady deserves a mama who can actively participate in her life and do things with her, the things her mother should have been doing all along. For all these reasons, Cissy is my why for weight loss and maintenance.

What or who is your why? Whoever or whatever it is, make sure you think of it every day, several times a day. Purposefully invite that why into your thoughts and even into your vision when you eat or when you exercise. I see my why in person and talk to her every day, but I also glance back at all these photos ever so often, reminding myself that she deserved a mentally and physically healthier mama in times past as well as from here on out. When she was a little girl, and I lost all that weight back in 2003-04, she excitedly chirped, "Mama, I can hug you all the way around!" She deserves a mom she can hug "all the way around" for as long as God allows her to have me, and I'm not about to sabotage that for the sake of Ruffles and Chinese buffets. She's working hard and has lost over 75 lbs. herself, so now I can hug her all the way around, too, and that's just another thing to be proud of her for.

Whatever your why is, focus on it EVERY DAY. Visualize it and carry pictures around. Set it as your Facebook cover or your computer or phone wallpaper. If it's a person, talk to that person often, to remind yourself of the amazing human being you're doing this for. If you can't do it for yourself, do it for your child's parent, your siblings' sibling, your grandparents' grandchild, or your boss's worker. If you X out the lbs., your WHY's will have you longer, and it will be an even better version of you to enjoy. At the moment, Cissy is my why to get back to goal and staying there (I haven't wandered far), because I want to graduate into a new dress to wear to her commencement!

Forgive any perceived pretentiousness here, but inspired by an energy boost from my Eight O'Clock boyfriend this morning, I wrote this poem for her for her upcoming graduation, and I thought I'd share it! Feel free to skip over it if sappy, Hallmark-style rhymes aren't your thing. I, on the other hand, am one of those saps who stands in the card aisle weeping, so of course I'd pen something like this...

by Mom...for Cissy

There are not words to tell you
just how much you fill my heart.
I did not expect you, darling,
but God knew you'd play a part.

I look at you and marvel
at this blessing I've been given,
this chance to love and to be loved
in this life that I've been livin'.

Those tiny fingers once grasped mine,
and I knew you needed me.
From your very first words to your first steps,
you've been a sight to see.

You've seen me, too, my little one,
in times both good and bad.
In those moments when life came crashing down
your giggles erased my sad.

You've made me proud beyond belief
in all that you have done.
Even when I felt I'd lost it all,
you've been the prize I won.

Oftentimes, I took wrong turns,
and I've made many mistakes,
but I knew I had to care for you,
no matter what that takes.

You've always loved me anyway,
despite all your mama's flaws,
and I feel the same about you, dear,
that you're the greatest daughter of them all.

God gave us to each other,
and we've braved some storms together.
Even as a child, my darling girl,
you pulled me through rough weather.

Now you're all grown up, my love,
but you're still that little girl,
the reason that I try so hard,
the center of my world.

No greater gift could God bestow,
Because YOU are why I try.
In all my strivings to be better,
YOU have been my WHY!
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