Friday, July 27, 2007

Earning the Right To Bare Arms

Long before I had a kid, when I still had a waistline, I visited a
private trainer who fancied himself a health guy. He told me he hated,
hated, hated working with clients who said they just wanted to "look
good in a bathing suit." He was interested in helping people improve
their health. So what, he asked me, would I like to work on?

blinked a few times. I was 22 and healthy. I couldn't think of a
reasonable lie, so I told him the truth: "I want arms like TLC."

body was fine – sure, I would have liked bigger boobs, but whatever. My
only aspiration was to have appendages as cut and strong-looking as
then-living singer Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and the rest of her all-girl
pop band.

The trainer gave me a look. I didn't hire him, and I never did work on those arms.

out, though, I didn't have to. All I had to do was add 10 pounds of
belly flab and a C-section scar to my bod, and – voila – arms so cut
they could scratch glass.

I had no idea that one day a toddler
would become my one and only piece of fitness equipment. But there he
is, all smiles and 25 pounds of him, refusing his stroller, demanding
my arms and – constantly – handing me things.

Whenever Zev finds
a rock or a twig or a scrap of paper that tickles his fancy, he thrusts
it into my hands. I'm asked to carry pebbles, toys, even imaginary
balls. He'll sometimes inexplicably demand, with the utmost
earnestness, that I stop making dinner that very moment, accept one of
his toy trains and "hold it tight."

I think he'd store things in my nose if he could reach that high.

weekend that the Disneyland submarine ride made its triumphant return,
I stood in a two-hour line. In the heat. Without water. Carrying a
couple of rocks in my pocket and my son in my arms.

There was
plenty of time for people-watching, so I took note of the fact that
every parent I saw was holding stuff. Sticky stuff, messy stuff,
ridiculous stuff (the sunburned linebacker-looking-dude holding the
miniature pink Cinderella backpack was my favorite). One common theme
to the stuff: None of it seemed to belong to the parents themselves.
They were all just schlepping their kids' junk.

So when Hubby swung by completely unencumbered, I was furious.

"Where's the backpack?" I hissed at him.

"It's in the stroller," he said, motioning to some far-off corner of the theme park where he'd abandoned it. "It's heavy."

demanded that he go get it. Not only did the backpack contain my
wallet, but it is a backpack – it's supposed to be on our backs. My
first 45 minutes standing in that line confirmed that carrying a bunch
of junk is the whole point of parenthood. So get with the program,
buddy, and start schlepping.

Besides, carrying stuff may be the only thing keeping most parents from expanding at the same rate as the universe.

was in a dressing room at Bloomingdale's recently, trying on swimsuits
and thinking about that personal trainer I never hired. Zev had snagged
a number of bikinis off the low racks and carried them into the
dressing room. As I tried on one of my selections, he kept handing me
his. Without even thinking about it, I took one. Then another. Then a

Before long, I was standing before a full-length mirror,
assessing the horror show that is my body, while holding fistfuls of

"Zev!" I finally said, realizing what I was doing. "Please don't give me any more. I can't hold them."

I wouldn't hold them, Zev reasoned, then he should be allowed to hang
them on the dressing room hooks. So I hoisted him up, and while he
carefully and patience-testingly placed one swimsuit on a hook at a
time, I caught another glimpse of myself in the mirror.

My thighs touched. My belly pooched. But … look at those arms! Unmistakably well-defined triceps. Undeniably strong biceps.

may have a few more pounds – and many more pebbles, twigs and toys – on
me than I'd like. But at least being Zev's living fanny pack has paid
off in one area: I finally have those arms I always wanted. They're cut
like TLC.

Sigh. I have to think that somewhere in the world, a health-conscious fitness trainer is laughing his rock-hard glutes off.

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