Originally published at Chicago Moms Blog in February 2009. And here I am back in the same spot!
Never mind that I've been carrying around a few extra pounds around for a few too many years, now that I've started losing weight I feel comfortable preaching to my ten-year-old about the importance of self-discipline. And why not present my svelte self as very the model of self-control? I've been watching what I eat and exercising daily for a whole month now.
So during a recent mother-son chat about a certain someone's lack of self-discipline I explained, "I know it can be hard to curb our impulses. But look at me, I started exercising and making careful choices about what I eat and I've lost five pounds."
He turned to me. He looked me over. Twice.
"Mom, I don't mean to be rude," he admitted. "But it doesn't look like you've lost any weight."
I'm only five feet tall. Five pounds missing from a five-foot frame means something. It shows. But that's beside the point. Our conversation was headed in a new direction and there was no turning back. Obviously, I had a more pressing lesson to impart.
"Let me tell you something. Don't ever say that to a girl or a women," I instructed.
"But, I was being honest. I mean, you look the same," my clueless, but honest, son told me.
"Well, your father is complaining that my breasts are shrinking!" I might have replied. But instead, I went on to explain that girls are often very sensitive about their weight. I told him that his manly duty involves making his girlfriend or wife comfortable with her body. In order to do this, he might have to, nay, he will have to lie.
"When a girl asks you if she looks like she lost weight, you look her over, smile and say, 'Wow, you look great!' or 'All that exercise is paying off!' instead of 'Um, not really,'" I explain.
I continue, "If she asks you if she looks fat, you must evade a true answer at all costs. Tell her she looks great, tell her you like her the way she is. She may accuse you of giving a non-answer, but once you so much as hint that she's getting a bit chubby, she never let you forget it."
Even though I generally encourage honestly in relationships, when it comes to a woman's weight, at least this woman's weight, it gets murky. A couple of summer ago when I felt my hips and all it holds getting wider, I asked my husband if he noticed my gain. A wise man, he evaded the question at first and later, reluctantly echoed my own words, but in my mind it was the same as him saying I was getting fat.
Complaining about my weight is like complaining about my family; it's okay if I do it, but if someone else does, I get protective, defensive, maybe even a bit angry. It's best to simply change the subject and move on.
My son sat there taking it in, no doubt thinking I'm an odd mom and, by the way, girls are generally odd creatures. Honestly, he's right on both counts