You see before you the starting point of Mommypotamus.com – a children’s book I love to read to our daughter. In the book, a socially hesitant potamus (for we all know by now how many varied forms of potami there truly are) sees everybody playing and doing cool stuff together, but she is always hanging back. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it’s a real tearjerker.
With most of Katie’s stories I get bored and accidentally use the wrong voice for the wrong characters halfway through. But not with this one. I so obviously enjoy it each time we read this book that Daniel started calling me Mommypotamus. It stuck, because in a lot of ways the book is about me.
I experienced loss early in my life, and as a result I became a very timid, cautious person. Being fearful took a huge toll on my health, as did my total ignorance of what healthy food really was (at the time I thought that meant Grape Nuts with half a cup of sugar poured over the top). By my early twenties my body was failing. I was rail-thin and could not gain weight, my abdomen hurt constantly, and I had severe-acid reflux and green, oozing acne. I began hearing phrases like “features of an unspecified autoimmune disorder” and was told not to get pregnant because I was not capable of carrying a baby to term.
I was alive, but I wasn’t living. I was sick of being sick, or so I thought. After seeing doctors, quacks and I don’t-even-know-what-to-call-them, I came to a very strange conclusion: Being sick had a payoff for me.
Being sickly got me attention. Being afraid to get out there and take chances didn’t. I wanted people, relationships and opportunities to come to me without me having to take any risks. But in choosing to be a “hanger-backer” I had slowly evolved into the girl in the plastic bubble.
At the perfect time I met a fabulous doctor (a PhD, not an M.D.) who used a modified version of acupuncture to help me recover. The timing was perfect, as I said, because I was ready to be well. It worked. For the first year I lived in daily amazement of the almost deafening silence of my body. Without pain coursing through me every minute of every day things looked so very different. I rushed headlong into life, sucking in every possible experience.
I used to be alive without living. Now I have said “yes” to life: All the good stuff with pain and disappointment mixed in. All of it. Now, when people pay attention to me (and they sometimes do!), I want it to be because I have something loving, funny, or helpful to say. I want to live my life so loudly that people can’t help but take notice. Not in the “spotlight-hog” kind of way, just in the plain ole “everybody has something worth saying” way.
For those of you that have read the book, it is for this reason that with all my heart I cry:
“But YES the Mommypotamus!!!”
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