This afternoon, I betook myself and the latest Bust magazine to the tub in an attempt to counteract both the trash-ass Us Weekly I'd just read and the disappointingly low household temperature. Not surprisingly, I was overwhelmed by the CD reviews that both evaluated and casually alluded to bands I've never heard of, so Bust was set aside till I had better lighting and perhaps a stout Mountain Dew to sustain me. Lying back without the magazine to protect me, all I could see in the tub were roundnesses: thighs, belly, breasts (making their second, rapid-fire blog appearance), and all I could do was wonder why we didn't have a deep enough goddamn tub that everything would be fully submerged.
We get caught up in is-she-or-isn't-she (yes, we know she's gay; I'm not talking about that), but this morning Heather said, "What if I am pregnant? Do you realize we're going to be parents?"
I said, "Oh, I know! It's going to be awesome. We're going to be great." But probably most people think they're going to be great parents till it happens. Everyone sucks as parents, says Louis C.K.-- my role model, and yours, no doubt, in all things familial-- and those mistakes stick. (C.K., Louis, "Daddy, I don't like chicken," Chewed Up, 2009.) I don't want those mistakes to leave my own daughter yearning to hide her body under bubbles, preferring not to acknowledge its reality. For that matter, I don't want her to think of her body as "a reality."
How much control do we have? I'm not sure. I remember some ridiculous book coming into our house when I was eight about diet, exercise and health, prompting one of the short-lived but passionate enthusiasms my older sister and I shared (generally according to her instruction). We made plain popcorn like it said, and tried to follow all of its other mandates. Kristin was delighted, for example, when I had a minor injury playing in the backyard and she was able to put into practice the book's RICE system: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. At bedtime, I prattled to Mom about it, and, one night, she said, hesitatingly, that she didn't want me to become critical of my body or expect it to look a certain way. I was eight and thought she was crazy.
Still, twenty years later, she has one daughter who hasn't publicly worn shorts since ninth grade, and another who's reached the too-skinny mark-- which should be offensive to say, but, I think if Kristin read it, she'd be perversely pleased.
Right now, our greatest fantasy is that there's an embryo snuggled into the lining of Heather's uterus. In twenty years, I hope our baby's greatest fantasy won't be to hear that she's too skinny. She will never be allowed to read Us Weekly.