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The morning started out in usual hectic fashion. Ben and I were heading to Chicago with friends for our first overnight trip without the kids since before Fiona was born, and I had, in true procrastinator fashion, left all the packing to the morning. After furiously stuffing all of the kid's supplies into suitcases and bags, I started my packing. I knew we were going out to a nice place that night, so I grabbed my old standby, a black cotton sundress, pumps, and everything else I could think of, and ran out of the house.
The rest of the day went smoothly, relaxing even, as we ate and shopped our way down the Michigan Mile. Even the salesperson from Victoria's Secret couldn't damper my spirit, even after she gave me the once-over and told me that I should buy the "bigger size".
I could even chuckle after my escapade in the restroom at Volare, the Italian restaurant we went to for dinner. There was a long line, one working stall, and the kitchen staff yelling in Italian outside the door. An older woman came out of the stall, took one look at me in my high waisted dress and tummy pooched out from my dinner of ricotta gnocchi and vodka sauce, and told me that I should go first, "because I was pregnant". I calmly corrected her and moved up in line, inwardly rolling my eyes at her remark.
But later, as we sat listening to a jazz band and gorging ourselves on a beautiful chocolate buffet at The Peninsula, the unthinkable happened. The waiter stopped by our table to refill my water glass, and asks me, "So, are you celebrating the new baby tonight?"
I wish I could have laughed it off and joked about how I ate too many chocolate parfaits. I wish that I could have said something wittier than "Um, I'm not pregnant." But the smile wouldn't come, and instead, tears started to trickle out of the corners of my eyes. I quickly excused myself, and found myself sitting in a bathroom stall, furious with myself for crying, but not able to stop.
This was my weekend away from the daily grind of ponytails, t-shirts, and flip flops. I was supposed to feel special and pretty, but instead I felt like a frumpy fraud. With that one question, my self-esteem had been shredded into pieces and handed back to me on a shiny silver platter.
The thing is? It was an honest mistake by the waiter. A horrible mistake, but we did ask whether there was alcohol in the chocolate drink, and I just happened to be wearing that dastardly high-waisted dress. It could have happened to anyone. It just happened to be me...for the second time in one night.
Mistake or not...one time or two...it is one thing to have parts of your body that you don't like; it's another thing to have one of them called out in public...by a stranger. I felt pitiful, embarrassed, and unattractive. Where was my confidence? My thick skin? My "rock what you got" attitude? I had nothing.
Thankfully, my friend Jenni came and rescued me from my misery, and somehow, I survived the rest of the evening without any more tears. We even ended up getting our dessert for free, which was a small consolation for the major damper on the evening.
But thinking about it now, almost a week later, I am still dumbfounded by how flimsy my armor is. I consider myself a confident and competent person, but I can still be brought to my knees by an offhand comment by a well-meaning waiter. It is a painful realization, and it makes me worry about teaching my daughters to stand strong when others say hurtful things when I can't hack it myself. And...do I truly have such a low opinion of myself?
Frankly, I don't know. But what I do know is that I can either wallow in self-pity about how I don't have the time or energy to work off my belly fat or I can work on accepting myself...flaws included.
Hmm...I think it is time to upgrade my armor...