In answer to the “Ask Me Anything” question posed to me yesterday:
My husband and I have been married for a few years and we have decided it’s time to start a family. We are both really excited about being in a place in our lives where we feel we have the resources and the maturity to become parents. At a family party a few weeks ago at my in-laws house my husband’s aunt blurted out that question that seems to be thrown at every young married couple: “when are you two going to give this family a grandbaby?” My husband and I smiled and started giggling at the question which made several people ask if we were already expecting and we shyly admitted that we were not but that we would like to be. Later at the party my mother in law took me aside and sweetly offered to buy me a gym membership because she was worried that my weight might make it harder to conceive and she also worried that my “being so heavy might make it hard to have the energy to take care of a baby.”
I am willing to admit that I carry about 40 extra pounds, which obviously bothers my weight obsessed mother in law, but it does not bother me. I have never been happier and I feel so sad that, disguising her own narrow minded attitude as “help” my husband’s mother feels entitled to impose her beliefs on me. I told her that I would think about it and let her know later. I do not want to go to the gym. I am happy with my life and my size and I don’t know how to graciously refuse her offer.
Mom To Be
Sweet Mom To Be
What you present to me is a multi-faceted issue. Today, I am going to address the weight related response you need to immediately take up with your husband’s mother, but I want you to keep my email address handy because from the sounds of it you are going to need plenty of advice and support navigating motherhood in the company of your buttinsky MIL (mother-in-law) and I will advise you to start asserting yourself with her RIGHT NOW on this issue.
There is a school of thought that we should never deal directly with an insulting comment as it might be too confrontational. Following our grandmothers’ wisdom of: “dear, it is beneath your dignity to respond to an insult” means that no change will ever occur. We MUST respond in order to be the change we want to see in the world.
You cannot advocate for yourself or for any cause through silence, and ladies and gentlemen…Body Acceptance is a cause worth taking up. Speaking out for your right to feel happiness unfettered by the opinions of others is a cause worth taking up. Helping to educate someone that bigotry and superiority are damaging to both sides of that equation is worth a little personal risk. I will say though that being calm and kind in your response IS critical to effectively reach the brain of the already biased.
Tell your mother in law that you appreciate her showing you that she enthusiastically embraces the idea of becoming a grandmother and that it is heartening to know that she is offering support for you…support you will count on in the years ahead. Tell her that you knew you were ready to become a mother when you developed the maturity to see in yourself some of the things that made her son fall in love with you: you have a great deal to offer a child, not the least of which is a solid sense of who you are and your own self-worth, as loving one’s self is key to loving others. You are going to pass on the gym membership as that is not something you care to pursue. You plan to model for your child that any person’s value is not dictated by their size but rather by their actions. Round and kind is just who you want to be, as a woman AND as a mother.
If you do not feel you can stand up to her disapproving gaze while you tell her this in person, pick out some nice stationary and write it in a note but do it immediately in hopes of discouraging her futher intrusion into your very personal life.
Laying the ground rules for how you will be treated is critical here, Mother To Be. I would say it is always fair to clarify the rules of engagement with whomever you deal. Beauty is self-confidence and you have a right to claim both. Enjoy the baby making and keep me updated. I can offer you this encouragement; I and millions of other women carrying a pound or 40 extra managed to get pregnant, lovingly care for their babies and muster the energy to chase them around the playground too.
May the Bunny Be With you!!
Suzy from “Peaches and Poundcake”