Subtitle: "In Which, Against Her Better Judgment (Which Has Been Defeated by P-Word Insomnia Anyways), Pretty Attempts to Be Serious for Five Minutes"
In a quote heard 'round the world - at the very least, the teensy corner of the internet occupied by P-Word
Debate aside (not to worry - I'll get there in one hot minute, darlings), her statement brings up a body image issue that I feel sometimes gets short shrift for those of us who struggle with the "Do I or don't I want kids?" question. Full Disclosure: since my earliest memory, I've been firmly on Team Kid. It has just been One of My Things I've known about myself, since forever. However, even I admit to a passing thought at this pre-baby - emotionally, vanity included (since I'm nothing if not vain), could I handle the whole carrying a child thing, assuming I was blessed enough to get pregnant? Could Miss Type A here accept that the many changes that will happen (note: are happening, one brownie at a time) to her body, weight gain included, are a healthy part of pregnancy?
Back to the specific quote controversy, if your gut take on Michaels' quote wasn't warm & fuzzy, you're not the only one - my initial reaction was one of judgment, "Whoa, vain much? And doesn't 'doing that to your body' imply that the many bodily changes a P-word lady goes through are akin to a loathsome disease to be avoided?" Taken to its logical extreme, the thought struck me as self-centered at best and incredibly insensitive to those of us who choose to be P-word and/or those of us who struggled or are struggling to conceive in the first place. I admit I questioned whether someone so obsessed with her appearance should be a mother at all, whether the children be biological or adopted.
That said, my second reaction after chewing on this for a bit was, "She has every right to decide for herself if this just isn't something she chooses to deal with, whatever the reasoning; even if I don't personally agree with it, kudos to her for being self-aware enough to say it. Plus, the body change stuff *is* weird."
One of the spiffy parts of doing / not doing this P-word thing in the 21st century? (Note: I am not, not, NOT about to launch into the pro-choice / pro-life stuff here. Really. Nanny nanny boo boo, you can't make me.) That the women amongst us, to the extent that any of this is in our control, can decide if and when to do the motherhood thing, in the manner that makes most sense for us & for our family. We all bring our bias to how this works out, of course - my pro-kid, Episcopalian, cookie-dough-eating lens I see things through necessarily colors how I think this happens. Bottom line, however, it's terrific that someone like Michaels can decide that for herself if and how to have kids (with the repeat caveat that, to my view, much of this is out of our human hands), just like I can decide those concerns absolutely don't outweigh the benefits for me.
In addition to this freedom thing, Michaels validly touches on a sensitive point for many of us - the weird body change thing. Here's my experience - it can be, you know, strange. I'm no workout fanatic, but I was athletic as a kid & have regularly exercised and kinda sorta kept an (lazy) eye on what I eat* since high school. Hence, there is a part of purposefully gaining weight, even when I know intellectually that it is for the best interests of my baby, that simply takes getting used to for me and, I suspect, for many of us. I've absolutely had my moments looking in the mirror and thinking to myself, "I look enormous. Fatter than fat. Will I always be this large? I wonder if my husband notices (hint: yes)?"
Admittedly, there was a teenaged time when I took to the latter part of my Grandmother's maxim, "You can never be too rich or too thin," a bit too literally. Thankfully, my extreme dieting flirtation was brief - as anyone who has seen me or my eating habits since can attest - but it does allow me to empathize to an extent with the body image & control issues Michaels mentions. I can only imagine how those are magnified for someone who makes a living looking fit & encouraging others to follow her example.
*Glaring sugar consumption habit aside - what I lack in natural sweetness I attempt to make up for in diet.
A happy surprise & vanity bonus of the body change stuff for me has been how it has improved - yes, improved - my self-image about certain body hangups. Those hips I previously liked to complain about, much to your certain delight and amusement? Are currently part of a curvier, balanced picture. It's been a cheap thrill seeing how the other, more voluptuous half lives. I now know what it's like for someone to not make eye contact with me while in conversation, even if the talk is increasingly being made in the direction of my burgeoning belly.
On a less vain and more important note, that I've been blessed enough to be able to carry a baby in this body thanks in part to said changes? Pretty cool. As someone who had fertility challenges going into this whole deal - ironically, possibly due in part to said past extreme dieting - I don't take this lightly. It is, in a word, awesome, and I can't adequately express how grateful I am. For me, and hopefully for many of you considering the whole P-word thing, this is a fat that feels pretty lightweight, all things considered. If not, like for Michaels, then that is absolutely your right as well.
Now that I've bored you senseless with my baggage, what's your take on this? And should I fear for my blog life now that I've dipped my (in dire need of pedicure, I have to confess) toes in more serious waters?