Get­ting my just dessert

Maryland Independent - - Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

We got out of the house (alone!) on Satur­day, and I wore a brand new dress.

It sounds sim­ple, but co­or­di­nat­ing care for two young chil­dren re­quires plan­ning. And some beg­ging. When we re­ceived an in­vite to a friend’s wed­ding in Fe­bru­ary, I im­me­di­ately asked my par­ents to jot down the date. For per­spec­tive, my due date with Hadley was still more than a month out; I was ar­rang­ing babysit­ting for a two-month-old who had yet to be born. I re­ally wanted to go.

My mom and dad don’t book up as fast as, say, an ex­clu­sive on-base day­care cen­ter, but they’re plan­ners. On the week­ends, es­pe­cially, Dad is ac­tive as a tour guide who sched­ules months in ad­vance. Mom is typ­i­cally re­lax­ing af­ter a long work week be­fore launch­ing into an­other one. Know­ing I would or­di­nar­ily re­quest both of them just to care for two-year-old Oliver, two adults watch­ing a tod­dler and in­fant seemed wise. They gra­ciously agreed.

So Satur­day was Eric and Emily’s big day: the cul­mi­na­tion of months of plan­ning. These love­birds must have spe­cial-or­dered the per­fect May af­ter­noon, ‘cause they got it. I’d been look­ing for­ward to the cel­e­bra­tion — and our kid-free af­ter­noon! — for months. But I had noth­ing to wear. Paw­ing through my closet these days is like brows­ing a bak­ery on a rigid diet. I see plenty of things I would love to eat (OK — wear), but can­not. Some weight came off in March, but the lin­ger­ing post-baby pounds make it tough to com­fort­ably fit into my wardrobe. I could wedge my­self into a few things, but not with­out a lot of cring­ing and dif­fi­cult breath­ing.

My cloth­ing ranges from size six to 16, but most of the larger items I owned were do­nated af­ter a ma­jor weight loss in 2013. Four years and two kids later, what I kept — the skinny clothes, nat­u­rally — all mock me. I did pur­chase some tops and pants out of ne­ces­sity af­ter Oliver was born, but for the most part? I didn’t re­place my big­ger stuff be­cause, in my in­san­ity, I thought that would drive me to lose the baby weight. Don’t do that. Like many peo­ple, my body size and di­etary habits are al­ways fluc­tu­at­ing. I love when I’m ac­tive, eat­ing well and chug­ging wa­ter — but that re­quires willpower and plan­ning, and some­times I just don’t have ei­ther.

Old me would have rolled her eyes at that. When I was heav­ily com­mit­ted to a pop­u­lar weight loss pro­gram, I at­tended weekly meet­ings in Wal­dorf — 30 min­utes re­served for mem­bers to share their strug­gles and suc­cesses. We all had a rea­son for be­ing there; I was newly en­gaged and hop­ing to get a han­dle on my bad eat­ing habits be­fore two wed­dings.

The at­ten­dees were all friendly folks, but one woman in par­tic­u­lar has stayed with me. She faith­fully at­tended our Wed­nes­day meet-ups, but made no bones about the fact that she never tracked what she ate — a non-ne­go­tiable key to the pro­gram.

How can you hold your­self ac­count­able if you’re not . . . tak­ing ac­count?

I re­li­giously tracked my food choices us­ing a phone app, in­clud­ing even three al­monds or a ta­ble­spoon of but­ter. Forty pounds fell away, but it took mil­i­tant de­vo­tion to the cause (a low calo­rie count, that is). Of course, liv­ing at home, I had lit­tle to fo­cus on but my­self; it was easy to vi­su­al­ize my­self in a wed­ding dress, “thin” for the first time in my adult life, and work to­ward that goal ev­ery day.

The woman in a base­ball hat at meet­ings — let’s call her Jane — was years be­yond her own nup­tials. She typ­i­cally en­tered the ses­sion last and sat right in front, ca­su­ally dressed and fre­quently check­ing her iPhone.

Jane of­ten men­tioned her teen chil­dren, their crazy sched­ules and the food she had to buy to fill their bot­tom­less stom­achs. Com­mon tips like not bring­ing junk into the house didn’t fly with her. Jane was funny and sup­port­ive of oth­ers, but un­apolo­getic in her dis­missal of ideas di­rected at her. When Jane replied with things like, “Well, you tell my kids why there are no cook­ies,” even the up­beat in­struc­tor seemed flum­moxed.

I used to won­der why she paid the siz­able monthly fee and showed up week af­ter week, in snow and rain and sun. If Jane wasn’t go­ing to prac­tice what the pro­gram preached, why did she bother?

As a hag­gard mother of two sur­viv­ing on cold cof­fee and gra­nola straight from a bag, I now re­flect on her com­ments dif­fer­ently. Maybe they weren’t ac­tu­ally ex­cuses, but veiled re­quests: for in­spi­ra­tion, mo­ti­va­tion, ca­ma­raderie, sup­port.

So if you’re out there, Jane, I would like to apol­o­gize. That Wed­nes­day night meet­ing may have been your only time away from a child, spouse, par­ent or boss — a time when noth­ing was be­ing re­quested of you, when you could an­swer to no one. Maybe you came be­cause, be­neath the dis­mis­sive com­ments, that half hour was still help­ing to shape you into a stronger ver­sion of your­self.

More than any­thing, it just wasn’t for me to judge.

As I got ready for the wed­ding on Satur­day, I pulled out a blue flo­ral dress I’d re­cently grabbed at Tar­get. I im­me­di­ately fell in love with its vin­tage ap­peal, and there had been only one in my size — but I hes­i­tated on buy­ing it. I’m ac­tively eat­ing bet­ter, ex­er­cis­ing and try­ing to slim down. Did I re­ally want to “in­vest” in cloth­ing I might not wear again? The an­swer, for once, was yes. This was not a ma­jor splurge. I rarely do any fun shop­ping — and def­i­nitely not for my­self. Spencer and I haven’t dressed up and gone out as a cou­ple in ages. For half of what we spend on di­a­pers weekly, I treated my­self to some­thing that just . . . made me feel good.

Health is ev­ery­thing — and goals are im­por­tant, too. But we also de­serve to be happy.

Not to­mor­row. Not 20 pounds from now.

So I had dessert, too.

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