Thursday, October 09, 2008

Turning this over in my mind

When I was 19, I worked for a professor babysitting his two kids. His son was 6, and his daughter was 8. Every day, I took the T out to the suburbs, picked them up from school, walked them home, gave them a snack and helped them with their homework.

I smoked back then, something that didn't come up until some time later because they hadn't asked. It didn't smoke in front of their kids. I think it came up because I'd left something in their car, and they returned to the train station where I was having a cigarette while waiting on the T back into the city. They were unhappy about it...and I recall after I left the job after a year, that the posting for the next sitter said "nonsmokers only".

When I met the sitter who watches my girls, since one of her jobs was to feed them dinner, I let her know that we don't do food punishments or rewards in our house. If the kids don't want to eat something, they aren't made to. If there is dessert, they get it regardless of how much dinner they ate. I explained the reasons why, and she said it wasn't something she'd thought about before.

As she was leaving on Tuesday evening, she mentioned in passing that she was on her way to the gym. "Wow, it's late" I replied. "I like working out in the morning.'

"Yeah, I worked out this morning."


"I'm trying to fit into this dress I bought for a wedding. I have to lose 15 pounds in 3 weeks, so I am going to the gym twice a day."

I think my jaw dropped. I realized I hadn't seen until that moment under her "college wear" - loose-fitting jeans and hoodie, that she had lost quite a bit of weight since last I saw her. I guess even if I had noticed, it's been a few months.

I replied quickly that I'd just dropped off a couple of dresses I'd worn before I was pregnant to formal affairs at the church thrift shop, and I was sure if she went in with $5 she could buy one of them which would cheaply and easily be altered to fit her in 3 weeks time. She smiled politely but it was clear that she was still heading for the gym.

There's a normalcy of this behavior. Plenty of women who I know lose huge amounts of weight to look good in a dress or wedding pictures or whatever. This sort of behavior is praised. I tried not to sound like the professor's wife, but I was entirely at a loss for words.


karen said...

I understand having a goal outfit if you're dieting...but shouldn't the goal be realistic? Dropping 15 pounds in three weeks just doesn't seem possible from any starting point!

Anonymous said...

i praise you for keeping a healthy attitude with the girls.... i love you

LMP said...

I wish so desperately for women everywhere that we could all see ourselves as the people who love us see us. This story breaks my heart a little.

*pab said...

I'm a little concerned for her physical health. Losing that much weight, in that short time frame, is very damaging to the human heart muscle.

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

Is this how it all starts?