Monday, March 27, 2006

Weighty issues

Saturday morning we got out of the house early for what was most likely our last breakfast at Silk City. I’ve been a patron for over 11 years now, and I spent so much time hanging out in the bar and diner in 1995 that I moved to Northern Liberties just to be close. For me it MADE this neighborhood inviting, and I’m so very sad to see it go. I’ll miss the vegetarian black russian, the sweet potato fries, the chocolate bread pudding, and most of all the vibe. I could write a whole damn mushy eulogy – but I’ll spare you.

At 10 am we headed to Liberty Lands Park to take part in the spring cleanup. I spent about an hour shoveling and raking new mulch around the playground equipment while Mark and Noah checked some clowns that were performing for the kids. Mark said Noah was really awestruck by the performance and was one of only two kids who didn’t get bored and start wandering around. Meanwhile I pulled muscles in my upper body I never knew I had. It was hard to push the stroller home – but totally worth it. I’m sure we are going to get a lot of use out of that park this spring and summer and I wanted to contribute.

At noon Patrice came by with our lovely little Bella-tubey. She hung out with us and the babies for a few fun hours before hitting the road. Sean got to our place around four to eat Mexican grub with us and collect his lovely daughter. It was nice having the Milligans over – it seemed like it had been a long time. Oh and while Sean and Bella were here we watched the Teletubbies segment with THE MAN in the house. Noah was obviously a little freaked out but he handled it really well and I do think watching it again with Mark and I reassuring him that THE MAN was just singing a funny song seemed to help. Noah has still brought him up a few times since then, but in a much less distressed manner.

Yesterday we went to Lowes to price screen doors. Though we currently have a screen door on our back door, it was improperly installed by Mark and my Mom (sorry guys) a few years ago. It has no latching mechanism so it will flop open if Noah leans on it, tossing him head first on to the concrete slab that is our backyard – and it isn’t even an effective screen because it doesn’t fit properly in the frame and bugs can get around it. So it’s imperative that we replace it so that we can get some blow through breeze through the house when it gets warmer. Unfortunately what we realized at Lowes is that we either had to drop an arm and a leg on some sort of specially sized door, cut it ourselves which was the problem last time, or pay an arm and a leg to have it installed. It was very frustrating trip, especially since I was already feeling a bit moody for no apparent reason. I also looked at outdoor carpeting because I’m thinking it would be nice to have a little cushioning back there for Noah’s outdoor play area. Anyone have any outdoor turf experience?

Yesterday afternoon I got all fired up reading a blogging debate that has been raging on a few Mommy blogs. It all started with this post on Morphing into Mama where in essence she says that wives must maintain their appearance for their husbands – or else the husbands have succumbed to false advertising. “Five years ago when Husband and I married, I was 120 pounds. I now weigh 125. I would have to use extreme measures to get back down to 120. That’s not a weight gain I can control within reason. However, if I’d maintained the 40 pounds I’d gained during pregnancy, well, that would be unfair since I can actually do something about that.” Obviously this post pissed off a bunch of people, including myself. I didn’t comment or anything, I just ended up flitting around to read a bunch of bloggers sounding off. Homesick Home, Tertia, Moxie, Suburban Bliss, City Mama. In particular I was nodding my head vigorously in agreement as I read Moxie’s post – “What’s got to give in the family’s life for a mom to lose her pregnancy weight?” Her comments about time, comfort food and our bodies as symbols rang my bells. But here is my take on Morphing into Mama’s original post: False advertising MY ASS. Life takes us on an unseen path where changes are inevitable – not just changes in circumstances but in self. People are pliable and what they are and what they become are dictated in some degree by the path they are on. When you marry someone you are pledging to be a constant partner, supporter and companion to them – for the good changes and the bad. Marriage is not selling someone a concrete bill of goods that should be then degraded or exchanged if expectations are not met.

What do you think?


Allison said...

I would probably have been mad too. I know I weigh a lot more than 5 lbs. more, it seems it's even harder to get the weight off the second time! For me to weigh what I weighed when we got married, I would have to lose 33 lbs.!!! I am currently working on it (for the past month). I started working out at the gym 6 days a week for an hour and am doing 30 minutes (3 miles) on the ellipticals a day. I had a stint of about 7 days I didn't work out b/c I went out of town and my kids both got the dreaded stomach virus. I was thrilled though when I weighed myself at the grocery store and I was 5 lbs. less!!! Weight loss is definitely NOT an easy thing!!!!! All that said, I probably wouldn't comment, but definitely would be reading the comments!!!!!

Missuz J said...

Any time I go to Lowes, or Home Depot, I get pissed. Sounds like our houses are similar, in that nothing is standard size, and everything ends up having to be custom.

It sounds weird, but my outside entry way has outdoor carpet/astroturf, whatever. It's brown and old, but actually not that bad. I sweep it once a month, (Ok--that was just to make me look good. I sweep it like, twice a year) and it cleans up fairly well.

As for the false advertising thing--dude, I don't even think I should get started on that one. Other than, fuck that--seriously. Fuck that.

shawnak said...

I agree with you 100%! False advertising my ass too! Life is unpredicitable and if you truly love someone, you love them for WHO they are not WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE!
Love your blog by the way! Here from MissuzJ.

TD said...

It's so awesome that you guys volunteered at Liberty Lands! And it's so sad that Silk City is closing. I had no idea.

I hope I don’t offend anyone with this comment; it’s purely my opinion based on my experiences. I read MIM's post as well as several of the counter-posts. While I think the phrase "false advertising" was a horrible choice, I don't completely disagree with everything MIM was saying. I can't relate to post-pregnancy weight gain (which seemed to be the focus of a lot of the other bloggers who commented on MIM’s blog), but I do believe I can relate it to a personal experience.

I lost 35 lbs. before I started dating my husband. I didn't do it to attract a partner, much less him; I did it because I was overweight and unhappy with how I looked and felt. That said, I worked at the same company as my future husband for well over a year at my heavier weight, and we never so much as exchanged hellos, though I knew who he was and passed him in the hall frequently. I've discussed this with him, and he assures me that it was a coincidence that we started talking after I lost the weight, that it had more to do with our social circles colliding than anything. And while I believe him, there are two things that will always stick in the back of my mind: 1) he can't recall ever having noticed me in the office at my heavier weight and 2) when he sees pictures of me at that weight, he says things like, "I can't believe that's you" or "Wow, you look like a different person."

I don't think this means my husband is shallow or superficial. What I do think it means is that he is an active, fit person who exercises regularly who tends to be attracted to active, fit people who exercise regularly. I know that being overweight and active/fit are not mutually exclusive, but in my case, they were. I was overweight at that particular time in my life because I ate tons of junk food, watched too much TV, and never exercised. I'm not so naive as to think I won't be overweight again (life happens, after all), but it won't be for that specific reason, if I can help it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I know my husband loves me for who I am, not for how I look. He loves me because we share similar ideals, interests, and goals, and one of those goals is to lead happy, healthy, active lives together. If he suddenly gave up running (not due to an injury), started eating burgers & fries every day, and spent the bulk of his free time horizontal on the couch, I’d have some concerns to voice, and they wouldn’t be about his weight. I would expect the same from him.

On a final note, while I think MIM made a few valid points, I found her overall tone to be smug and off-putting. Unfortunately for her, that's the quickest way to turn a potentially interesting debate into an emotional maelstrom, as evidenced by several of the nastier comments on her post.

Sorry I've been an inactive commenter lately! I promise I'm still reading.

Jen said...

All this talk makes me happy to know that my husband loves me for who I am and at any weight. If I diet (which I do perpetually) and exercise more, it is because I want to, not because of something he has said or implied. He thinks I am beautiful always, and it is for my own satisfaction that I make an effort. I like it that way. Having someone tell me I was a fatass would not help me lose weight; it would only depress me.

NME said...

Theresa makes a good point. IF you think of physical fitness as a hobby, like running, that the said couple shared and helped cement their relationship, it would be disconcerting if one lost interest.

However the false advertising label that MIM applied to it would presuppose that the one mate who lost interest in running had never really been interested in running from the start - but merely used it to attract their mate. And I find that pretty ludicrous. My point is that sometimes interests change, or circumstances change and we no longer have the energy or the time to pursue the interest - and when you are married you have to work with your mate, roll with the punches, and support them rather than worry about what they put in their "ad."

Jen O. said...

Anyone who correlates relationship "courting" to "advertising" should be shot. It's about so much more than packaging. Don't let these people rile you. They're the same people who read and followed "The Rules."

patrice said...

I surely hope that her husband hasn't gained any weight. he better not have lost any hair. or get any wrinkles. or ever be impotent.

I didn't even read it yet and I'm pissed.

I can only think of one word: SUPERFICIAL.

patrice said...

oh for chrissake.

and all the people agreeing!

this is the one thing about blogs that I hate: one person's opinion, spread as gospel, and people there to read it and agree or disagree. fuck you, MIM - glad I'm not in the same arrangement as you. you go have fun worrying about drastic measures to lose 5 more pounds. I'm just going to hang with my husband who is sooooo not your husband and enjoy life.

Katiemagic said...

This is a sensitive issue for me. I've gained quite a bit of weight since Kent and I started dating and most of it was before my pregnancy. My dad left my mom when she was at her heaviest, and I'm convinced that it was one of the main reasons.

I know that when I am thinner I am a happier person, and more importantly a more confident person. And that fact alone makes me a better partner. Maybe that makes it my responsibility to stay fit. What isn't my responsibility is to be fit so that I can continue to be my husbands eye candy, or so that he doesn't leave me. That is a bunch of ass. I know women who buy into that idea and I think that they are the reason some men still buy into it too.

Katiemagic said...

Ok I just read the entry and some of the comments and, wow. The assertion that people gain weight because they have lost their self respect makes me want to reach throught the computer and punch that bitch. The assumption that overweight people are lazy, stupid, have no self respect, and are generally not as good as thinner people are what make heavier people (or maybe I should just say make ME as a heavier person) feel like shit.

And what's with closing comments as soon as someone disagrees with her?

MIM said...

No offense, but your interpretation of my post is not what I meant. I wasn't talking about the WIFE needing to maintain her appearance for her HUSBAND. I was talking about SPOUSES needing to be considerate of each other and how this consideration can extend to physical appearance. I think people are misinterpreting what I said because a) I'm a woamn, b) weight happened to be the topic in my class, c) I *happen* to be thin, and d) I used the term "false advertising."

I used "false advertising" because people's habits or decisions can be based on conscous and subconscious motivations. For instance, a woman may take care of herself a certain way to attract a man while single. A man may project himself a certain way while single. Once married, these projections may change due to "comfort" in the relationship. That can -- sometimes -- mean "letting onself go." So decisions re appearance before marriage may have been unsciously made to attract a man. Decisions after marriage re appearance may be unconsciously made based on "comfort." The motivations for such decisions may remain unconscious because it's too painful for the person to admit. I used the term "false advertising" in my class to try to bring these unconscious motivations to the surface -- especially for the woman who admitted to "plumping up" once comfortable in her relationship. The ironic thing is that she was not at all offended by my remarks. In fact, she said she had never looked at her getting comfortable and caring less about her appearance as possibly taking her partner for granted. She didn't find this insulting to her -- she it found it thoughtful to her partner.

Now, some people think even caring about physical appearance is superficial. Love, after all, is more important in a relationship. Love, respect, friendship, kindness -- these are all much more important. But in the fabric of a rich relationship, physical appearance is a thread. To the deny is that is idealistic and unrealistic. And, for *some* relationships, not all, when this thread drastically changes, it can adversely affect the partner or the relationship.

Anyway, sorry to take up so much space.

NME said...

MIM- thanks for visiting and thank you for your comments.

First I will admit that my initial depiction of your post being about wives was misleading. I just said wives because we here are *mostly* all wives. (Hi honey!)

In the vows my husband and I wrote for our wedding we promised to try to be our best selves and to be there for each other even when we were not - because even the greatest among us can only be their best five percent of the time. I understand that keeping oneself physically fit is one way to keep oneself at their "best" for oneself and their mate - and I can't really argue that point. My problem with your post is that TO ME it is that sort of thinking that condones men ridiculing and belittling their wives because they are carrying extra weight. Weight that they put on bearing their kids, and keep on while setting aside their own personal body agendas to raise those kids.

Anyway MIM - again I appreciate your input. You touched off a really heated issue and I thank you for starting an interesting level of discourse though I don't entirely agree with your point of view.

MIM said...

Please keep in mind that I wrote that post from MY perspective. I am in a very supportive and emotionally loving relationship with my best friend who I have known for 24 years. I do NOT at all condone husbands who belittle wives for how they look. That is horrible, unloving, and completely unacceptable. I was speaking from the perspective of a healthy, emotionally supportive partnership.

~A~ said...

What an interesting topic, one that I'll have to bring to my online mommy group for discussion.

Although I don't agree with MIM's statement about the advertising, her other points about underline issues with the sudden or unaccounted for, as in pregnancy, weight gain I found interesting and do agree with to some degree.

For myself, my weight loss battle after having 4 kids in just under 5 years has been for me. Does my husband enjoy my "sexay body", stretch marks and all, yes, but I do it for me because it was hard to be as active as I am with the extra 50 lbs I was toting around.

Back to health issues, I've mentioned somewhere before, I think in a response to the beautiful Missuz J that I have a cousin who became seriously over weight. Part to what most of us in the family saw as laziness, but there may have been something else there too. making a mental note that when the weight topic comes up in discussion to ask. My cousin, pushing the high side of 280 lbs had developed knee pain, something her doctor and honestly many family members including myself thought was because of the stress her weight had on her joints. After much complaining and eventually testing it turned out that she had a cancer tumor on her knee. Lucky for her she was able to beat it, but it was a scary time for the family, especially her husband and two young kids.

It wasn't easy for me to lose all my baby weight. Nearly 6.5 years of being pregnant and nursing I picked up some bad eating habits. I ate healthy food but continued to eat pregnancy and nursing portions and although I exercised all that did was maintain. Once I relearned how to eat I finally started to lose weight. I'm still not where I want to be but that's because it takes 7 years after birth for bones that get moved in pregnancy to go back. I'll be a hippy (as in big hipped) bitch for another three years.

Shit, I rambled more than I intended. Great topic.

NME said...

MIM - I understand that you were speaking from your own perspective. And I don't think your post was intended to be inflammatory, hurtful or to condone verbal abuse. And it really sucks that you've been getting such hurtful comments and emails.

For the most part in your original post you clearly talk about your relationship and the expectations you and your spouse have. However in the sentence "It would be false advertising if he’d married his 120 pound girlfriend and ended up with a 160 pound wife" you broaden your topic from you to others. And in talking about others,, in my opinion, you condone verbal spousal abuse.

Don't get me wrong - my husband is great. He's loved me heavy, thin and back again (but this time with a pregnancy to blame it on) and he would NEVER heckle me about weight issues. But many men do. We've all seen it happen - and it's heartbreaking. And I think that is the nerve you touched on.

Anyway - hope it all passes soon. I'm sure life's been a little intense in your house lately.