Friday, March 20, 2009

The What If on Weight

Irrational crying jags are normal in pregnancy, right?

I only ask because yesterday I dissolved into inconsolable tears after discovering Brett put a carton in the fridge with only an inch of milk in it.

To his credit, my husband had his coat on and one foot out the door, on his way to the grocery store, before I stopped him. I told him I thought it was likely pregnancy hormones and not the nearly empty carton that made me blubber like a cranky toddler.

He, at least, had the good grace to look embarrassed (as he should! 39 years old and still pulling that teenage trick!).

I have had to accept that I’ve lost part of my emotional control.

I get giddy at the certain things. For instance, there’s a car commercial right now welcoming the beginning of spring. One image is of newborn baby birds stretching their necks eagerly out of the nest in search of Mother Robin. Every time I see it, I ooh and coo like I’ve never seen birds before.

It makes me positively hyper with joy.

Of course, I also cry at the drop of a milk carton and worry every time some kid at church bumps into me.

Worry is one of my new universal constants. My latest worry (like I needed a new one) is that Sam will be born with autism or be one of those ADD kids you want to duct tape to the wall.

All of this, because I read an article about how those conditions are more likely to happen when a kid’s parents are older.

Now, obviously, we’ll love Sam no matter what. But, we’ve also found a nice distraction from worry. We play the What If game.

What if he’s tall? What if he’s chubby? What if he’s blond? What if he wants to play sports (gulp!)?

It all started way back - before we even knew if we could have kids.

Having been fat 95% of my life, I always told Brett I hoped, if we had kids, they would get his family’s super-metabolism. All Soderstroms are beanpoles growing up!

Being a fat girl was not a pleasant way to grow up. Just take a breeze through my recollection of the Bully Chronicles (at right).

Now, I’m going to make a blatantly sexist statement here, but it is my firm belief it is much easier to be a “big boy” than a “big girl.”

We expect men to be bigger and stronger. We even use phrases like, “big, strapping young man.” Coaches reliably recruit big young men for football and big ticket sports.

Even schlubby guys like Seth Rogen and Jack Black make big bucks starring as the fat, funny guy in movies. And they usually end up with the hot skinny girl.

The societal expectation of women is much stricter when it comes to size and perceived level of attraction. Camryn Manheim and Kathy Bates are the exception, not the rule. Positive role models for women of weight are not abundant.

All that to say, I am grateful to be having a boy, just in case he inherits my portly genes.

Part of me is torn, however.

Being a behemoth brought me strength of character. It helped me build a tough outer shell and honed my sense of self-deprecation and sarcastic wit. It held me back from certain temptations (Oh no, Chuck wants me to sleep with him! Whatever will I do?)

I think of my dad. All that sterling character, moral fortitude, and fierce conviction packed into a 5 foot, 6 inch frame. I have to smile as I weigh the chances of Sam taking on the characteristics, physical or otherwise, of his maternal grandfather.

The world could always use more Bob Trotters.

In my tiny school, I was one of maybe three girls in my weight class. The majority of girls were slender or at least thinner than me (by 50 pounds or so).

I felt like a platypus who accidentally waddled into a swan sanctuary.

I elevated these girls to supermodel status in my own mind, and it wasn’t until college I learned differently.

I have to credit my cousin Charity with steering me in the right direction.

After a somewhat adversarial relationship as children, Charity and I became unlikely and fast friends after high school. She faithfully wrote me letters in college, even convincing me to take a long distance trip to visit our cousin Aaron.

When Brett asked me to marry him (for the third time), I asked Charity to be my maid-of-honor, as she was the closest thing I had to a sister.

The two of us were sitting around talking one day, and I mentioned how difficult it was growing up as a fat slob next to such beautiful girls.

“Who, exactly, are you talking about?” Charity asked me.

“You know, So-and-so. She was so skinny with long, blond hair, and she could play the piano.”

“Yeah,” Charity said, “You know her hair was WAY over-processed, right? She had no chest and really noticeable varicose veins.”

“She did?” I marveled. “What about Such-and-such? She was a cheerleader and always had a boyfriend.”

“She also had horrible acne and caked on make-up.” Charity stated, matter-of-factly.

“Huh,” I thought.

Sure enough, I pulled out my high school yearbook and looked at the girls I had admired.

Charity was right on the money. We were certainly not the cast of America’s Next Top Model. We looked exactly like what we were – somewhat dorky Christian school kids.

Our hair was teased and sprayed in full 80’s style, a full decade behind the rest of the world. We all had high necklines, shiny faces, and cheesy grins. I couldn’t help but laugh.

All of us that is, except the exquisite and ruggedly handsome Mike J. He was freakishly attractive with other worldly blue eyes and an enticing “aw, shucks” grin. His photo still holds up to scrutiny today.

Poor Mike, a swan among platypuses.

I don’t know if Sam will struggle with his weight like his mom, or eat his way through buffets (as Brett did) and stay rail-thin.

I only hope and pray that whatever the scale tells him, he’ll have developed the wit and wisdom not to care.


Rebekah said...

Supermodels huh? Now I know I wasn't one of those, but I can picture a few who in my mind were better than I. Ah, the good ol' days ... well, the old days anyhow.

Anyways, back on topic, I think that with you as a mom, he'll do just fine with whatever his weight is. :-)


Juliet said...

What if he comes out laughing!!!! Then we know we have a winner!!!

Heidi said...

I agree with Rebekah. He will adjust to whatever as well as learning to make healthy choices can also alter whatever genes may bring forth.

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

I once cried when I couldn't get the pickles open. You are normal. :-)

And no one is perfect. No one. Even the REAL supermodels have doctored photographs (or plastic surgery.)

I'm sure those "perfect girls" in high school struggled with their own insecurities. I've never been overweight, but I was one who had bad acne.

And, really, it would sure make me sad to think that others were analyzing my "caked on make-up" when I was already insecure and self-conscious. I'm glad, though, that Candice made you feel better by reminding you that everyone struggles with something. And whatever that person is dealing with sure feels like the wost possible ailment to have, I can assure you.

The important thing is that he is being born into a great and loving family! My parents loved me with all of their hearts, and I love my own children with all of my heart.