Meredith’s Musings: I Don’t Need Your Numbers
article by Meredtih McKinnie
A childhood friend of mine recently gave birth for the first time. This is an odd dynamic, as I feel I have three groups of friends. One group did their birthing ten plus years ago, others are just getting around to it, and the third turns their noses up at the conventional institution of parenthood. Having for the last ten years been a part of the latter group and only recently come around to the idea of wanting kids, I clearly have mixed emotions about the whole process. But as a fringe outsider, I’m observing everything with a newfound curiosity that I didn’t have a decade ago. I hope/fear/hope this will be me in the near future.
So imagine my surprise when said first-time mother friend didn’t know how much weight she’d gained during her pregnancy. She refused to know. The nurse came in post-birth and requested her starting weight, and she simply shrugged her shoulders. Turns out, at every doctor’s appointment for the entire nine months of gestation, she had mounted the dreaded scale backwards and threatened the unsuspecting nurse holding the chart to keep the dreaded number to herself. She had no clue. She got bigger. She bought new clothes. She avoided social situations for the last few months, but as far as a number, she’s clueless. The post-birth nurse simply stared at her when she uttered, “I don’t need your numbers.” How liberating, and it got me thinking, how many other numbers could we ditch and thus lower our stress levels?
In my teen years, where I was always the pudgy one, though not until junior year of high school becoming the obese one, I dreaded numbers. I avoided the scale all together, which was not difficult considering my mother kept it downstairs in her walk-in closet, and my room was an entire floor away. Even if I had had the sudden urge to know my number, I would have talked myself out of it by the time I reached the bottom step and turned to ascend the stairs with my newfound confidence in refusing to depress myself. As one who fluctuated in weight, I now have all these clothes with the tags cut out, no idea what size they are. I didn’t need a once weekly reminder that I was a twelve. What’s a twelve? I refused to be defined by a scale or a tag or a double-digit number.
A few summers ago I was in California visiting my sister. We went out to lunch, just the two of us. I remember it fondly as the lunch I fell in love with mojitos, but it was also a battle of numbers. And I’m not talking two limes or three. The menu had calorie counts beside each selection. I wanted a burger. I had been craving a burger. I had even skipped the bacon at breakfast in anticipation of my burger. But the burger was almost 900 calories. Imagine my shock! It was the only burger on the menu, and it looked delicious. I immediately started editing in my head. What could I remove from this burger to drop 300 calories? But the sacrifice wasn’t worth the headache, and I settled on fish, the 450 calorie grilled fish. And with every fishy bite soaked in mango salsa, I was just wishing I could morph that fish into cow meat. The darn numbers are the same reason I have yet to order a single food item from my favorite coffee shop, less you count a cake pop for a child I had in tow, notably the lowest calorie count in the clear bakery box due to it being the size of a walnut on a stick.
So much like my liberated, forward thinking, stubborn, “I won’t play by your pregnancy rules” friend, I also don’t need your numbers. You can keep your weight numbers, sizes, measurements, percentages, BMI charts and calorie counts. Don’t let being a single, part of a couple, or God-forbid, the third wheel make you feel less than someone defined by another number. If numbers gratify you in some way or serve to define progress, have at it. And if it comes to that, perhaps I’ll revisit them. But for now, we’re on a break.