Thursday, February 25, 2016

What You Don’t See When You Look At That “Skinny Mom”

She sees you, looking her up and down, your eyes traveling the length of her slender-by-society’s-standards body. She sees the sneer on your face, the slight look of disgust – or is it envy? – that flickers over your features. She sees you divert your gaze the moment her eyes meet yours.

You see “one of those skinny bitches.” The kind that other moms poke fun at on social media. The kind alluded to in many a blog post, spoken of in tones of bitterness and jealousy, cast as an outlier, used as a scapegoat so that other women can feel “normal.”

But you don’t see everything.

You see the shadows, dips, and curves of muscle, the smooth sinew that flexes beneath her skin as she bends down to scoop her son up in her wiry arms.

Not the constant repetition of numbers in her head, the oppressive reiteration that governs her day: counting pushups, counting calories, counting the miniscule cookie crumbs she allows herself to eat off her kid’s lunch plate, and the minutes she’ll have to work out to burn them off.

Counting everything besides the things that really count.

You see a narrow, delicate waist, resting above slightly protruding hip bones.

Not the queasy stomach inside her, the one that is filled, not with food, but with the sickening feelings of self-doubt and insecurity. You don’t see the way she slips her hand beneath the hem of her shirt, assessing what her delicate fingers find there, pinching love handles that are as nonexistent as the love she shows herself.

You see a “runner’s body,” bronze cheekbones, and a tan complexion.

Not the inner voice that tells her she can outrun anything, even the demons that haunt her, telling her she isn’t – and never will be – good enough for anyone or anything. You don’t see the destructive thoughts in her head that she is so desperate to escape, or the sense of calm that overcomes her after a hard run, when the only feelings she’s left with are the burning in her lungs and the trembling in her quads.

You see one of those moms, a woman who seemed to drop all the baby weight two days out of the hospital, who looks like she’s never carried any extra weight on her slender frame, let alone the weight of two children.

Not the woman who cried through years of infertility, who struggled to get pregnant due to both a medical condition that was beyond her control, and fear that she knows should have been within it. You don’t see the conflicted heart, the one that nearly broke as it struggled to make peace with the cruel paradox: a body she hated, housing the children she loved.

You see a “fit mama.”

Not someone who questions every day whether she’s fit to be a mama.

You see a toned body, someone who has the time and discipline to exercise regularly.

Not the anxiety and panic she feels if she sleeps past 5:30 and fails to get a workout in before her kids wake up.

You see a c-section scar that spans a flat stomach, resting beneath taut abs.

Not the emotional scars left behind from an eating disorder that haunted her for years, and still rears its ugly head in her moments of weakness.

You see her engaged with her kids at the playground, laughing as she scurries after them up the tube slide, her lithe body swinging freely as she chases them across the monkey bars.

Not the dark places her mind goes to as she pushes her kids on the swings, or the guilt she feels for allowing it to go there. You don’t know that her time with them is always tainted because – no matter how hard she tries – she can’t just enjoy the moment.

You see someone who’s lucky because she “doesn’t have to worry” about putting on a bikini when she takes her kids to the beach.

Not the tears she sheds in private as she tries on a million different bathing suits, finally walking out of the store empty-handed, convinced that each one accentuates one of her many flaws.

You see a size zero.

Not someone who feels like one on the inside.

You see someone who turns heads.

Not someone who wishes she could disappear.

You see her body.

But you don’t see her.

Are you even really looking?

© 2015 Samantha Wassel, as first published on Scary Mommy

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

To the Woman Lost in Her Eating Disorder

To the woman struggling, the woman caught in the death grip of her eating disorder:

I see you. I know you’re trying to hide—to disappear—but I see you.

I see you because I was you.


Do you remember those yellow rubber Livestrong wristbands that were all the rage in the early 2000s?

I do. In fact, I’ll always remember. I’ll remember because while other people were using them to show their outward support for a worthy cause, I was using one to support the ongoing deterioration of my self-worth.

I was using one as a catalyst for my own self-destruction.

I can recall, very vividly, slogging away on an elliptical in a tiny workout room near my college campus, periodically sliding that yellow band slowly up and down my withered arm: I would start at the emaciated wrist, traverse the path to a bony elbow, cross the spot where the bulge of a bicep used to be, and finally end at the top of a protruding shoulder bone.

I would leave that bright yellow band there, for a few minutes—tucked beneath my armpit—and relish in the knowledge that it still fit there, that all my hard work was paying off.

I would leave it there to remind me that the hours of exercise, the days of starvation, the constant sense of being half-alive, was worth it.

That isolating myself from friends and family was worth it.

That living the shell of the life I once knew was worth it.

That being numb was worth it.

That ED—the disease that had possessed me with a ruthless, unforgiving ferocity—was worth it.

I convinced myself that as long as my arm was skinny enough for that little yellow band to encircle every part of it, everything I was doing was worth it.

And yet, even though I believed my destructive behavior was worth all of the consequences, was worth losing myself, I never stopped feeling worthLESS.


That’s what anorexia does to you. That’s what an eating disorder does to you. It tricks you into thinking that you’re working toward something—an accomplishment, a meaningful goal, a happy ending in which you’ll finally feel fulfilled.

But there are no happy endings, no dreams fulfilled, no real achievements. Those are all figments of your imagination that ED plants in your mind to keep you under his control.

You can never reach your goal because there’s always another one. There’s always more weight to lose, less food to eat, longer workouts to perform.

There’s always more you can do to become less.

And so it becomes a manipulative cycle. ED convinces you he’ll make you happy if you just keep giving him a little more of yourself, until finally there’s nothing left to give. Eventually, you’ll forget that you ever even hoped to be happy, because happiness becomes an elusive, intangible concept—like the soft serenity of a cloud in the sky that you can clearly see but know you’ll never touch.

It’s like signing a contract with the devil. You sell your soul for empty promises, and you end up with nothing but—

Emptiness. In every possible sense of the word. Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual.


This is the part where I’m supposed to talk about the turning point in my life. This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that everything works out in the end, that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

That you are stronger than your eating disorder.

But I’m not going to do that. Not today.

Today I’m going to tell you the truth, and the truth is that not everyone beats ED. The truth is that you’re not inherently stronger than your eating disorder. The truth is that you have to choose to be.

The truth is that people die from this disease. The truth is that I was almost one of them.

The truth is that you could be one of them, and that if you don’t make the choice to fight, you probably will be. I don’t believe you want that. I don’t believe that youthe real you, the you without ED—is ready to sacrifice your life to this disease.

So don’t. Instead, CHOOSE. Choose right now not to become an empty statistic. Choose right now to fight for what you want.

Do you want to be that girl on the elliptical, measuring her worth with a small yellow band, suffering quietly—senselessly—as a means to an (unhappy) end?

Do you want to continue sacrificing yourself for empty promises?

Do you want to BE empty?

Do you want to just keep going through the motions, the ones that are slowly killing you?

Or do you want to STOP?

Stop and look at what you’re doing to yourself. Stop and ask yourself if there's something you're blatantly ignoring: an instinct, a deep-rooted feeling that you want to stop, a sign from the universe... 


It was right there—literally at my fingertips—all along: the words I needed to see.




You have to choose. No one else can do it for you.

Choose to live. Choose to be strong.

Because even though I’ve never met you, even though you don’t know me, I know you. And I see you.

I see that you’re worth it. Just like I was—just like I am—worth it.

It’s about time you see it, too.


For more information on National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and what you can do to help save a life, check out And please, if you know someone who's suffering, consider sharing this post <3

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

24 Lies Parents Tell Their Toddlers

1. Big kids don’t poop their pants. You have definitely pooped your pants on more than one occasion. You did it when you were pregnant. And during that marathon when you had a bad case of the runner’s trots. And that one Taco Tuesday you said “F**k you” to moderation and didn’t make it to the bathroom before the shitsunami hit.

2. We’re leaving now! Yeah, you’re leaving in however long it takes to pry his fingers off the monkey bars and drag his convulsing toddler body back to the car. Or:

3. OK, you can stay here, but I’m going home. You’re not going anywhere without your kid, but you really want to go home and binge on cookie dough ice cream and The Vampire Diaries, so you’re relying on good ol’ reverse psychology to get him in the car.

4. You can’t have dessert unless you eat your broccoli. Umm, actually, you can. Mom does it all the time.

5. We’re out of M&Ms. You hid them in an empty Wheat Thins box in the pantry and intend on inhaling them the moment your little tyke’s head hits the pillow.

6. You shouldn’t call people names. Yes, sometimes you should, like that jackass who didn’t hold the door open for you at the post office, or that twat waffle who just walked out of the bathroom stall you went to shit in and didn’t tell you she used the last of the toilet paper.

7. If you don’t brush your teeth, they’re going to fall out. They’re baby teeth. They’re going to fall out even if your kid’s the Bob Ross of tooth brushing.

8. Mama’s got a boo-boo. Mama needs a nap.

9. Daddy misses you! Mama needs a break. Or:

10. Mama needs a break. Mama needs a Valium. Or wine. Or both.

11. It’s broken. You took the batteries out. There’s only so much f**king Vtech you can take in a day.

12. It’s a popped animal balloon. It’s a condom. Although something may have been blown into it at one point.

13. It’s yucky. It’s Starbucks: a hot, steaming, deliciously creamy orgasm in a cardboard cup. (Moan. Sigh.)

14. It’s a milkshake! It’s a spinach smoothie.

15. It’s candy! It’s Tylenol.

16. It’s lemonade! It’s a laxative.

17. It’s just a little scratch! It’s gushing more blood than Mama when her vag is paintin’ the town red.

18. It’s a magic potion! It’s rubbing alcohol. And it’s going to sting like a bitch.

19. It’s just a tiny bugaboo! OMG, IT’S A F**KING COCKROACH, the sperm of Satan himself, sent to impregnate this world with evil and universal grotesqueness. And if you don’t all evacuate the house immediately, it’s going hunt you down with its repulsively long antennae and EAT YOUR SOULS.

20. Dora isn’t on right now. It’s not “on” because you didn’t flip the channel to Nick Jr. You’ve had your fill of anthropomorphic purple monkeys and kleptomaniacal foxes. Besides, you don’t want your kid watching when Dora finally gets busted for whatever hallucinogenic substances she’s toting around in that backpack of hers (the thing talks for Chrissakes; it’s clearly on something).

21. Mama doesn’t know where The Very Hungry Caterpillar is. It’s on top of the refrigerator. If you have to orate that shameless insect’s binging habits one more time, you’re going to follow suit. And you’ll look more “butter” than “butterfly” by the time you’re done.

22. You are driving Mama CRAZY! This implies that you’re not quite there yet. The truth is, you boarded the family-friendly minivan to Crazytown before your kid was even a week old, when he burped up in your mouth for the first time.

23. If you don’t stop (kicking, screaming, tugging on Mama’s nipples, etc.) by the count of three… Not sure if this really qualifies as a lie, because you never actually finish the sentence.

24. That’s it, I’m done! You are never done. The moment you squeezed that little twerp out of your lady bits, you signed a vaginal contract to put up with all of his twerpiness until he becomes an adult twerp. And you’ll likely still opt to put up with it then, because he may be a twerp, but he’s YOUR TWERP.

Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s not always a realistic option if you want to actually survive the toddler years.

© 2015 Samantha Wassel, as first published on Scary Mommy

Monday, February 8, 2016

Experts Reveal the Meaning Behind Moms’ Favorite Valentine Candy

Mamas, have you ever wondered what your favorite Valentine candy reveals about you?*

*Probably not.

Well, wonder no more! Why? Because this year, instead of doing something sappy for Valentine’s Day—like writing my husband an epic love poem or baking my kids heart-shaped sugar cookies—I, your trusty blogger at Between the Monkey Bars, have decided to do something much more practical.*

*Not practical at all.

I hired a team of psychological and sugarlogical experts* to determine the connection between a mom’s candy preferences and her parenting style.

*There was no team. I just sat in front of the computer typing and cackling to myself for a good hour or two.

The results were shocking.*

*The results were total BS, fabricated for the sole purpose of entertainment value.

Here’s what my team of highly-qualified experts had to say:

If You Like Conversation Hearts: 

You’re a Lonely Mom, so wrapped up in your children’s lives that you spend zero time socializing with human beings who are capable of wiping their own butts. You’re literally HUNGRY for adult conversation—even if that “conversation” consists of a lame-ass “U R Special” stamped on a chalky lump of corn syrup.

It’s time to get out, Mama.

It may also be time to spice up your sex life. Or just, you know, have a sex life again. Especially if that sugarcoated “Wink Wink” is the most action you’ve seen this month.

If Assorted Truffles Fit Your Fancy: 

You’re a Spunky Mom who relishes spontaneity and the thrill of the unknown. You like to take the kids on impromptu adventures, tossing them in the minivan and just driving wherever that Honda Odyssey takes you.  

The park? Yes, the park! Who cares if it’s winter, and the slides are covered in ice? It’s all good. When the kids go flying off the end, they’ll land safely in those giant snow drifts.

Chuck-E-Cheese? Hell yeah! Where a kid can be a kid! And a mom can go bankrupt buying tokens, all so her kids can earn enough tickets to buy cheap plastic kazoos. And then she can listen to them THE WHOLE WAY HOME!

Liquor store? Kids, wait in the car. Mama will be right back.

Fun is great, but don’t overdo it. When you spend too much time living on the edge, you’re bound to fall—or be pushed—off of it eventually.

If You Love Dove:

You’re a Zen Mom who craves peace and strives to create a tranquil environment for your children. You spend your days wrapped up in infinity scarves, sipping herbal tea from a mug that says something inspirational, like “Today I choose joy.”

You own the entire Mommy-and-Me Yoga DVD series, and you cherish your relaxation time with your little yogis-in-training.

Tranquility is nice, but don’t forget to vent now and then. It’s okay to lose your shit when the toddler eats your favorite aromatherapy candle. Just flip him the finger while you’re in Mountain Pose. He won’t notice, and we won’t tell. 

If You're A Sucker For Heart-Shaped Suckers: 

You are THAT MOM. The pushover. The literal SUCKER. (You know what they say: You are what you eat.) All your kid has to do is look at you with those puppy-dog eyes, whisper “I wub you, Mama,” and you’ll let him have whatever the hell he wants.

This is a tough case that calls for tough love: Stop letting your kid turn you into his little bitch. 

If You're Nuts For Nuts: 

You’re a Kooky Mom. Some might even call you a tad unhinged. You say things like “If you don’t stop fighting, I’m going to coat your lips in superglue and shove your faces together. AND THEN YOU’LL BE STUCK KISSING ONE ANOTHER FOREVER. BWAHAHAHA.”

And then you might actually do it.

Be careful not to cross the line between a little nutty and full-blown crazy. It’s gonna be damn hard to eat those Ferrero Rochers if you’re wearing a straitjacket.

If You're Hungry For Hershey:

You’re a Martyr Mom, always sacrificing your own happiness for that of your children. You don’t think you deserve “nice things,” so you settle for crap.

But how can I justify downing a $30 box of pretentious truffles when little Johnny Dearest has been eyeing that new Duplo set? We’re not made of money, and Hershey bars are, like, A DOLLAR. Besides, if I close my eyes and don’t think about it too much, I can almost get past the fact that I’m basically chewing on a chocolate-scented candle.

Oh Mama. You are worth so much more than that.

Stop settling. Stop settling for that shit-colored wax that Hershey calls “chocolate.” Stop settling for Daniel Tiger reruns when Channing Tatum is on Ellen. Stop settling for half-eaten dino nuggets, greasy hair, and weeklong shower hiatuses.

(No, seriously: Go take a shower. We can smell you through the computer screen.)

If Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Makes Your Sweet Tooth Sing:

YOU ARE MAMA, HEAR YOU ROAR! Welcome to the Dark Side. You’ve sampled the sweet, seductive taste of power, and you’re never going back.

What’s that, Sugarplum? You want a cookie? THEN FINISH THOSE BABY CARROTS! And in the meantime, you can sit there and watch ME eat this Oreo! NOM NOM NOM!


Oh, you’re SLEEEEEPY? SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK! Now stop whining and do some burpees! No, not BURPING IN MY FACE. Gross; you stink. Nevermind. GO DO SOME PULLUPS!

Try dialing it down a notch every once in a while. Remember, Darth Vader’s power trip destroyed his relationship with his kids. Besides, can you imagine trying to drink wine through that bulky mask he wears?

Speaking of wine…

If You're A Big Fat WINE-er:

You are a Creative Mom who knows how to think outside the box. (Just not outside the WINE box yet.) Sure, wine isn’t technically “candy,” but so what? You can get it sweet, white, or red. And you’ve heard it’s good for your HEART! That’s Valentinesy enough for you.

You deserve that glass of liquid love. We know you spent the whole day wiping pee off the floor, listening Mickey Mouse’s gratingly high-pitched voice shouting “Toodles,” and stepping on Matchbox cars.

We feel you, Mama, and we don’t judge.


Our team of experts here at BTMB wishes you a Happy Valentine’s Day, filled with whatever candy fits your fancy.

And please remember to SHARE SHARE SHARE! (The post, duh: like we'd ever suggest you share your candy.)