I Used to Be Cool

In Lola Shreveport, Payton Denney by Lola Magazine

Yesterday I found a bald spot. I had just taken a sip of my morning coffee. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief, but there it sat shiny and proud in the part of my hair. This just so happened to be the same week I visited the cardiologist in search of a diagnosis for my night sweats, which I attributed to hormones or to my a-fib. Something was most definitely happening with my body.

After a full work up and a lengthy conversation with a cross-legged doctor, he delivered the verdict.

“Your EKG is clean. I haven’t seen you in my office in two years, which means your a-fib symptoms are under control. You have a lot on your plate. I attribute these sweating episodes to nothing more than stress.”

I blinked, a little confused.

“Payton, you’re getting to that age,” he said with a grin. “You need to start exercising.”

Y’all don’t want to know what my imaginary response was back to him. Instead I smiled, snatched my discharge papers and marched to the check-out lady. I growled at the scale as I passed by.

“That age. Ridiculous,” I thought. “Seriously? Who has time to exercise? I have kids to run places, meals to prep, homework to referee. I have a business to run, volunteer meetings to attend, a husband to entertain. Like I can handle one more to-do for my list.”

But the truth is that my wedding ring needs to be resized and my adult acne is out of control. More days than not, my day begins in negative territory because I’m forced to sport a pair of too tight underwear. I’m too stubborn to buy new ones with the hope that they will either magically fit once again or stretch out. The reality of my current status is that things are changing fast and that self-care has not been my priority.

Aging isn’t as glamorous as my 20-year-old, college-educated self thought it would be. As it turns out, on my way to becoming someone fantastic, I misplaced my cool and arrived as a middle-aged mom goober.

I suspect that it happened gradually over time. Something like this…

In my early 20s, I thought that adult life would include a fairytale marriage, an impeccable home and money — lots of money. My rear end would never square off. I’d have plenty of children when I decided the time was right. The glittery love of new marriage would endure without interruption. That’s not how this went down.

The first year of marriage was 2 parts glitter, 1 part sandpaper. We had fancy new stuff, but we were dead broke. And then we over-drafted our account while on our honeymoon in Mexico. Placing that call to my mother-in-law was humbling. It wasn’t how I envisioned it, but it was still wonderful. After all, my waist was still intact.
Starting a family was next on our list. It was time, we decided. It didn’t take us long to realize that life doesn’t happen just because we decide that it’s time. After 4 years, numerous doctor visits, and thousands of dollars, I became a mother. I was 29. My body was contorted, and I was terrified.

Terrified? Terrified was not what I had envisioned. Motherhood was supposed to be happiness and pink and smelling of baby powder. The twins were released from the NICU right in the middle of a swine flu outbreak. I felt a full-blown come apart looming.

Then, when the twins were 8 months old, I was not feeling well. I had a strange, breathy, light-headed feeling. So, Pat wagged home a pregnancy test and laughingly tossed it to me. What a ridiculous thought — that I could be pregnant. I was the infertility queen with old eggs. There was absolutely no way that I could be PREGNANT! When I regained consciousness, the twins were crawling around on the bathroom floor playing with the EPT box. I knew instantly that my mother was going to kill me.
I used to be cool. Now, 9 years later, I’m a full-scale mom goober. I’ve driven a minivan and enjoyed it. I can’t take a selfie to save my life, and I don’t know any of the celebrities featured in “People” magazine. I cry almost every Sunday in church and sometimes at parent-teacher conferences. Without shame, I went all summer without painting my toe nails.

One morning a few weeks ago while I was getting dressed in my closet, Dylan snuck up behind me. Pointing to the drooping area of my hind quarters she asked, “Mom, Is that your bottom or your leg?”

Narrowing my eyes at my child I replied, “I’m not sure. I think it’s a little of both. Now get out of my closet.”

My body parts are merging, evidently. Lovely. My friend, Laura, calls the end result of the buttocks mushing, merging process “hippo bottom.” It makes me giggle each time I think about it mainly because it’s so very accurate.

At this stage in life, I don’t have much in common with my younger self. I’m pretty sure that if she could see me now, I would look ridiculous through her eyes. But looking back at her, I think she’s silly. Because what she doesn’t know is that I have cellulite from drinking wine on the back porch with the best friends of my life. They are the same friends that I consulted about my bald spot. On that porch, we work out the heaviness that the days inevitably bring. That porch is my lifeline.

At our house, we wear helmets to do dangerous things because the little heads that they protect house my entire heart. I have stretch marks because God chose me to carry three beautiful beings into this world. And I’m sorry if I offend you in my bikini. I promise that you’ll get over it. I wear mom clothes, and I say mom things. My youngest child likes to lay in bed at night and squeeze my bicep. He says that he loves it because it’s so soft and squishy. But what’s funny is that I remember thinking the same thing about my mother — how soft and beautiful she was and is still.

To my fellow mom goobers, I’ll give you this. I see you, and I think you’re fantastic. I know what it’s like to hide from your kids in the pantry while eating a box of Ding Dongs. I recommend purchasing a pair of noise-canceling headphones to wear when a glass of wine just won’t cut it. I’ve given up wearing Spanx, too. I’m not doing it. And as far as exercise goes, I’m going to start again because I want to be around to watch my little people grow up. I recognize that taking care of myself is a non-negotiable.

My life today is about less show and more experiences. It’s about deeper relationships and more fun. This mom goober gig isn’t so bad because age brings perspective and the blessing of this front-row seat to watching our kids grow is priceless. And my younger self… She couldn’t make it to the show. She couldn’t afford the ticket. Congratulations, ladies. We’ve arrived.