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One thing about walking around with an extra 15 or 20 pounds on your body: Your opportunities to experience low self-esteem are nearly limitless.
Take, for instance, a trip to the nearby record store. On a recent Saturday afternoon, I popped into a local store called The Disc Exchange with Truman on my hip to pick up the new Decemberists' CD, "The Crane Wife." We did some browsing around—or I did some browsing, Truman did some knocking around of CD cases—and were having a nice leisurely shopping experience. Until we went to check out.
We were greeted at the cash register by a very young girl, approximately the age, size, and shape of an Olsen twin. She smiled at me; I returned the favor, and noticed a picture of a newborn baby girl taped to her name badge. "Awwwwwwww, how cute!" I exclaimed. "Did your friend have a baby?"
"No," she replied, "that's my baby. Her name is Ebolyn, with a b."
"Oh," I replied, a little confused. "Really? Well. How old is she now?"
"She's 10 weeks old," the girl answered.
I was, literally, flummoxed. This simply did not compute. The girl looked like a whippet, not someone who had so recently given birth. "You mean you had a baby 10 weeks ago?" Affirmative. "Yourself?" Yes. "You had her?" Uh-huh.
"Wow," I said, looking her up and down. "You do not look like you just had a baby!"
She, in return, looked me up and down, price scanner held aloft. There was an awkward silence. ThenÂ
"How old is your baby?"
I must sure have turned three shades of red. I felt lumpen, like a blob, like some totally different species from this tiny sylph of a girl. Worse, I felt ashamed of myself. Ugh.
"Um, he's, uh, ten...months old," I said quietly.
And then—to my own chagrin—I started to make excuses for myself. "But I'm much older than you! Plus, I'm having migraine headaches. I just can't get to the gym as much as I'd like. I'm just so busy, because I'm trying to work at home. You know? And did I mention I'm older than you?"
And I was older—by 15 or 20 years, I'd guess. Not that she needed to know that information; not that I needed to tell her. She just smiled, and said, "Well, it's different for everyone." Then she turned on her little size-two heel and went about her business, probably eager to get home to little Ebolyn and on with her life.
I went home and sulked about how old and fat I am, until my husband helpfully pointed out that sulking doesn't really burn calories at the same rate as the elliptical trainer does. And so, I left Truman in his hands, and headed out for the Y.
Stomping away on the elliptical, I felt a little better, and thought to myself: I may not be young, I may not be thin, I may not look anything like Mary Kate or Ashley, but I am strong and healthy and old enough to know that it doesn't really matter that much. Right? (But since it matters just a little, I'll put in an extra five minutes this timeÂ
Hillari Dowdle will fit back into her favorite pants one of these
days. Check this column every week, and you will no doubt be among the
first to read all about it!