14 July 2008

Vanity, thy name is Reb.Mary

Three-odd months* after BabyThree, I’m back in the “healthy and normal” weight range for my height. But not in the “happy and sane” weight range for my mind.

Many days, I feel fine. I feel healthy. I can even believe that I look exactly as I should for a woman who is nursing her infant. I thank the Lord for health, and I pass the Evil Scale with nary a second thought. Then…what? What happens to that sensible version of myself, to cause a sudden plunge into near-despair over a matter of what’s really a (relatively) small number of pounds?

What’s the deal? Why do I obsess? Is obsessing over my weight, or my looks in general, really such a great way to use my time and my oh-so-finite mental powers? Is my temporary exercise in full-bodiedness worth all the mental anguish? But—but—but—whispers the wicked little voice--what if it’s not temporary this time?

Well, what if it’s not temporary? Would anyone love me more if my skinny jeans weren’t so… well, skinny…right now? Would I be a more productive member of church and society, a better wife and mother, without these extra “lactationally enabling” pounds? And how narcissistic is it to think that anyone else really cares, or even notices? Another great Andree Seu quote: “Don’t worry about what other people think of you. They don’t think of you.” Self, get over yourself already.

My husband, a man of his word, and the person that should be my only mirror, avers that to him I look just as I should. And I believe him—in the sense that I think he thinks it’s true, and that it’s true for him. Which is fine for him, but not for me, if you know what I mean. Which is frustrating to him because he thinks I’m somehow disbelieving his sincerity, which I’m not. [By now I’m guessing that any brave males who might have persevered in reading this post thus far are despairing utterly of finding any sense here.] Wherefore a moratorium on the topic is imposed for reasons of marital accord, and yet I fret.

Do I really believe, as I often catch myself thinking, that I would be happier if I just could lose the last few “baby pounds” overnight? And if that’s true, then how shallow am I? And if it’s not, then why am I thinking it?

Would I really trade those ridiculous-but-profound preschooler insights, those tight toddler hugs, and that sweet infant breath for a figure that wasn’t spectacular to begin with and realistically couldn’t have been maintained for much longer anyway? Would I rather have had a few more years of feeding my destructive pride, at the cost of fewer names in the Book of Life?

So many questions. I know the right answers. Really, I do. It's just a hard truth to accept, as Rebekah has noted, that sometimes the best way to mortify the flesh is to feed it.

*Note the vanity even here: We're closer now to the 4-month mark than to the 3, but it's better to have a 3-month old than a 4-month old when you're talking about still having extra weight.


Thursday's Child said...

You're so right. I finally lost my "baby weight" or at least part of it, a couple of years ago, when they were 2. I've since gained it back and then some. So what do I call it now? {sigh}

Rebekah said...

I won't disgust you with the details of Rebekah's thrilling trip to the doctor last week, which she both looked forward to and dreaded for the last four months since her husband doesn't permit scales in the house and it was her big chance to find out The Number. As if she doesn't already know which of her clothes fit her and which don't.

I think part of my prob is that skinny is really the only thing I had close to going for me appearance-wise before all this happened. Four babies later and I don't exactly have that in my assets column any more. :P If it makes you feel any better, I don't put you in this category since I immediately, upon meeting you, considered you too pretty to be my friend. But you were just so darn nice to me that I thought maybe you'd run with me anyway. (Ditto for Gauntlets, obviously.)

But here's my new strategy: whenever numbers come up, bypass pounds and only give your weight in stones. Round to no fraction less than the quarter stone, and feel free to just go with the half- or whole stone. This gives a very realistic range: for example, if a woman's non-pregnant weight falls between 12 and 13 stones, that accounts for everything from 3 months postpartum to the Easter Vigil.

Gauntlets said...

Good point about stones! :D

Another good point about scales. Reb. Mary, throw that frakking thing away. You won't be sorry. If you're feeling really brave, I also recommend throwing out all full-length mirrors. You won't miss them for too long; four-year-olds are surprising good at assessing the match-factor of shoes. ;)

Ack! Look, girls: We've each of us wasted years of our lives maintaining inhumane sizes and taking out all our anger on our stomachs. Just eat your food and be the size you are. The size you really are. Which you both know is pretty darn thin. And cut up those "skinny jeans" for quilt scraps. Or just light them of fire. I have a closet full of clothes that only fit well two months out of every two years, and then only when I'm bloody hungry. I give up; I'm donating them to the Clothe a Starving Model Foundation. Those chicks need them more than I do, anyway.

Rebekah said...

Gauntlets, I ate two doughnuts this morning at VBS. Happy? (What is with these people? They get up early and come to church to make doughnuts from scratch for VBS!! And then they send the leftovers home with me! :O )

And I forgot this from earlier, my favorite line: what if it’s not temporary this time? This one is never going to go away, is it? Because every single time you think, well, I'm not getting any younger. Maybe my metabolism is finally going to betray me.

Actually now I'm looking over this whole glorious post again and it has way too many good lines to call that one my favorite . . . .

Reb. Mary said...

Ah, Rebekah. Sounds like your mirror has some of the same mental flaws that my husband claims ours has. :P I'm still just grateful that a clever brunette like you is willing to give this dumb blond the time of day.


Gauntlets: Strangely, we have a scale (that I'm not supposed to use) but no full-length mirror in the house. But the only fashion sense we've ascertained in our 4-yr-old is an unshakeable conviction that camouflage goes with everything. So I keep my shoe selection pretty basic to be on the safe side.

Oh, and I ate half a pan of strawberry rhubarb crisp, with ice cream, yesterday. :) Check out that new recipe on CSPP cooks!

April Marie said...

I agree with Gauntlets! Cutting up your skinny jeans is quite liberating, and an excellent venue for anger management.

I did it, and it completely rock!


Rebekah said...

Nice work, April! :)