About Me

San Francisco, California
I am Ethan and Chase's Mama and my man's Sugar. I have flown a plane, driven a race car, and been pushed out of a train. I have swum with dolphins, climbed the Untersberg, and thrown tortillas in more than one location. I have great arms and a law degree. I hate housework. I can't iron. I love my dustbuster because I occasionally allow my kids to eat off of the floors. I wish I were taller and for my boys to grow up in a peaceful world.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hot mamas

Almost four years ago I developed a bizarre skin disorder. It was so unusual that it had been medically classified as other or miscellaneous disease. I was misdiagnosed twice by two different dermatologists. Very few doctors had ever seen it before.

At my worst point, ninety percent of my body was covered in lesions. If I increased my heart rate at all, my skin would turn an angry purple. I was miserable.

This happened just five months before my wedding. I never thought a wedding day would somehow transform me -- maybe not from an ugly duckling, but definitely from an ordinary girl -- into a princess. Still, I bought into the whole wedding fantasy a little bit in my desire to be my most beautiful as a bride. Well, lesions are not beautiful. I think everyone would agree that they are ugly things.

I controlled what I could. My face was spared. My dress was stunning. My wedding was a dream come true. It took place on the beach under a full moon. I married the world's most handsome, kind, and thrilling man. I love him crazy. There was a lot of beauty that day and in my life.

Although the disease had taught me what ugly was, as I healed I learned to recognize the beauty in me regardless of the condition of my skin. I had always been greater than the sum of my imperfections. Only after I had been sick, however, could I appreciate my wholeness. I told myself I would never, ever take my body for granted again. Cellulite? Ten extra pounds? A wrinkle? I'll take it! I thought. That is not ugly. I know ugly.

When I later became pregnant I was amazed by my body. Me! Growing a baby! I was so proud to bring my son into the world. In those first exhausting months after the birth, however, I forgot how to see myself as beautiful. I felt ugly again. On principle, I would not wear my maternity clothes. Yet nothing normal fit, so I wore sweats over and over again. My husband had to return to work after just one week. Consequently, the night feedings (and the day feedings of course) were all mine. I came down with mastitis. I was so depleted that I could barely get myself dressed, much less shower or put myself together.

I would go to the grocery store with my baby in a sling close to my heart. Except for my beautiful child, I believed I was the perfect image of disaster. My hair was falling out. Whatever hair that managed to hold on sprung from my scalp as dark, greasy roots that gave way to frayed bottle-blonde. Dark bags hung from my eyes. My skin, deprived of estrogen, was dry and showing every wrinkle. My hands were chaffed from washing, washing, washing, after every diaper change. My clothes were stained with spit-up from Ethan and breastmilk that had leaked from me.

Ugly. I thought. Ugly.

I'll get my groove back one day, I consoled myself.

I have yet to get my groove back, but I do look and feel healthy again. At least I get some sleep and a shower most of the time. Only last night my son woke up three times, so I did not sleep well. When I was back in the grocery store today, I had not had a shower. That old, sad feeling of ugliness was creeping back.

Then I saw mother after mother with tiny, new babies in Bjorns or Ergos or propped on the grocery cart in their carriers. The moms clearly were exhausted. They moved their bodies slooowly down the aisles. Dark circles were under the eyes. They wore sweat pants and old jeans. And they were beautiful. Really, truly beautiful.

There was strength in them as they carried or pushed their babies and balanced their groceries. There was light behind those darkly circled eyes. The old clothes were somehow defiant and freeing. The women wore no make-up. Their skin looked good. Yes! Good! Wrinkled, maybe. Discolored due to the pregnancy, maybe, but nonetheless healthy. Hair was clumsily held back by head bands or pony-tails, but there was grace in each woman's slow, purposeful steps.

Strength. Light. Freedom. Health. Grace.

As I recognized the beauty in these women, I remembered how to respect myself again. These mothers were beautiful and I was one of them.


  1. Sugar Mama, you are one of the most beautiful women that I know. No joke! You glow with inner and outer beauty, and I can't tell you how many times I would stare at you and be amazed at how gorgeous you are, esp on days with no or minimal makeup. I know Ethan and Ethan's Papa only know of ONE woman that exceeds all others in terms of her beauty, and that is Sugar Mama! Also, I love how refreshing it is to read your voice. You are an incredible writer.

    Oh yes, and poo (on the loose) and slippery toilet water can make for a terrible day! What an ordeal!

  2. Hot Sugar Mama, maybe we could go out to lunch and also celebrate lil' Ethan-Bear's birthday! We never did that, and I think he deserves some presents for being a sweet and handsome little man.