June 19, 2015
By Ekta R. Garg
In the last two months two different people have asked me whether I’m expecting another child. Given that neither of these women have ever had children themselves, I guess the little tummy pooch I’m sporting could look deceiving. They’ve never delivered babies, fallen in love with them, and then spent the next several years looking after said children while ignoring their own bodies.
Their questions didn’t offend me. The first occurred when I stood chatting someone. She literally looked down at my stomach, looked back at my face, and did a double-take. Later as I made my down the stairs slowly, she thought I was pregnant. I explained cheerfully that, no, I’d fallen down the stairs several days earlier, and the muscles I used to go up and down stairs ached in that motion. The woman apologized, and I just brushed it off.
The second time happened two weeks ago after the kids’ music recital when a young grad student who also teaches at the school said, “And you have another one on the way” at the end of our conversation. I shook my head and said no, it was just baby fat. I felt content with the two I had.
As I’ve thought about both incidents, I’ve also mulled my lack of offense in either instance. Is that a good thing? I don’t know. Possibly. Maybe even…yes.
Some of you fellow parents would probably cheer and say you agree, it was a good thing. I should accept my body as it is. It’s done what no man could ever do: produce children (no offense, guys, especially with Father’s Day this weekend!). In the larger scheme of things, you might say, people can always try harder and I should give myself credit for the fact that I do try. Although I’d be the first to tell you that I probably could try harder at keeping a regular exercise regimen.
Some might say my placid reaction constituted a complacent attitude. I shouldn’t settle for “good enough.” I should push harder, work out longer, sleep earlier, manage my time better, do something more, something more, more.
Really? Is that it? If so, I’d rather be complacent.
Or maybe there’s a third option. Maybe I should rejoice in the fact that I can shrug off these observations and also take them as a gentle reminder to up my game when I can.
Of course, I still wonder in the back of my mind whether I should have gotten offended. I wonder this in an objective sort of way, the way a person analyzes a scientific fact or a math problem. Even my analysis doesn’t rouse much emotion.
Given the fact that I often take a moment to observe my reflection right after the shower and feel a small puddle of dismay pooling at my feet, I surprised myself more than anyone else at my reaction. But I also wonder whether getting older (not old; never old. Just…more mature) means I’m starting to accept myself just as I am. I understand I can improve myself, but I’m also starting to accept that if my body doesn’t match that of a supermodel it means I’m normal. Wow, who thought normal was so attractive?
I’m declaring it right here, right now. Normal is the new sexy. And the new black. And the new bass.
At the risk of sounding like a really bad Lifetime movie, I’ve started to understand that I’m me and that really is okay. I emphasize this tenet for the kids day and night. Now that I’ve gotten it down for good, I hope I can continue to impart this important principle from the heart out and that they see it that way.