Father of the Bride

I couldn’t really decide the best way to pay tribute to my dad, so this is sort of two blogs in one.

“FORCE FIELD”

My sister got married when I was 19. I remember dancing with him at her wedding and promising that I wouldn’t get married for a long time and it wouldn’t be a big affair…..I kept one of those promises.

Honestly? I’ve got a bone to pick with my dad. I don’t think it would have been so difficult for me to find the right guy if he hadn’t been such an outstanding model of what a man should be. Not just a man in a marriage and a man as a father, but a man as a human being. Because of my father, I expected the man I marry to be strong, stable, reliable, funny, intelligent and giving.

Believe it or not, it was a lot to ask of all the myriad of jerks and hipsters that I dated in my 20’s. In fact, I probably went out of my way to avoid guys like my dad in an attempt to not be like my mother (see Mother’s Day post). But in the back of my mind I knew it was inevitable. Like my sister, a mini version of my grandmother, married a not so mini version of my grandfather (my brother-in-law clocks in at 6’5), my eventual marriage would be Jackie and Dave part two.

My dad always made me feel safe. I looked for my mom’s approval first in a lot of things I did in my life. But I looked to my dad for the final nod. Not because of some patriarchal thing in my family. If anything our family was a matriarchy, with my mother and grandmother as very strong forces in my sister and I’s life. No, I looked to my dad because not only was he able to look at everything logically and unemotionally (unlike my mother and I) but because he just has this air about him that makes everything feel like whatever he said to do was the right thing, the best thing. Even the unsafe things I chose to do. (The unsafe things I chose to TELL him about at least).

There is this great quote that I post every Father’s Day on Facebook, where he is thankfully not a member, in his honor that is the perfect tribute to everything he did for me.

“There’s a look little girls have who are adored by their fathers,’ Bea said. ‘It’s that facial expression of being totally impervious to the badness of the world. If they can keep that look into their twenties, they’re pretty much okay, they’ve got a force field around them.”

—Maile Meloy, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It

 

“WILLIE, MICKEY, AND THE DUKE”

Every relationship has a language and my dad and I speak baseball. My father loves America’s past time with such a passion. And my sister and my mother never really loved it. But I fell in love at some point when I was 7 or 8. My father would take us to ball games on every family vacation and he and I would sit and keep score while my mother and sister would sit bored eating hot dogs. My sister was the athlete of the family but I played softball. My dad coached me until I was 13 until coaching teenage girls became too much. But I kept playing until I graduated high school. After high school when I went away to London my dad and I would talk, not about what I was doing or what was going on at home, but we would talk about baseball. When I was so lonely in my first year in New York I would call my dad on Sunday mornings when I knew my mother wasn’t home to ask all her questions about my life (I’m still broke, sad and tired) but we would talk about baseball. When I first started dating my fiance…..my dad and I talked baseball instead. But when it really mattered, when I was faced with some pretty big decision in my life, I could always call on a Sunday morning and talk it out, and then talk baseball. It’s kind of appropriate that Father’s Day is on a Sunday.

When I was a kid, my dad had this cassette that I played until it broke, “Baseball’s Greatest Hits”. It had Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on First” and songs about baseball greats like Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson and my dad’s favorite, Say Hey Willie Mays. It had a few general songs about baseball and one song called “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request”. As a Cub fan it hits home “to the home of the brave, the land of the free and the door mat of the National League”. And to my father, it was a hilarious song. We listened to it all the time.  My sister and my mom thought it was weird and morbid how much we loved this song. So when I told him I was getting married, the first decision we made was to dance to that song at my wedding. Before I booked a band, caterer, found a dress, found a venue or anything, we had the song…..now we just have to get the band to play it.

 

 

Becky and Dad 1990

(Side note: My mother is the photographer here and while she is a multi-talented…photography is not one of them)

Weight a Minute

With almost 5 months until the big day, I’ve had a lot on my mind. A lot of my hips, thighs and butt to be exact. And to be honest, I’m freaking the f**k out about it.

The mania to lose weight before your wedding is insane. I’ve always been overweight, but at no point in my life have people just said out loud TO MY FACE “So you are going to lose weight. right?” Like….what?! But when you get engaged, among a lot of stupid things people say to you, the weight loss question gets brought up the most. And I’ve seen it happen to brides much skinnier than me. I mean, no one ever says to the groom “I bet you are going to get rid of that gut before the wedding”.   But somehow the idea of brides on juice fasts is just another part of the wedding industry machine.

Guys, I really thought I had this part of wedding planning covered. I’m old pro at dieting. Food has been my best frenemy since middle school. Years of therapy helped me pinpoint the triggers to unhealthy eating and dieting habits. And a HUGE event deadline? Well let’s just say that  I thank God every day for therapy because without that, I’d be an even bigger mess about wedding weight loss than I am today.

For those of you fortunate enough to never have to go through this, let me lay it out for you. You’re going along fine, eating whatever you want, then you get yourself on a diet. You measure your Greek yogurt, you put your fruit in Tupperware and when everyone is having cake for Helen in accounting’s birthday, you politely decline and have a carrot. You’re so proud of yourself and the weight is coming off. Then something happens….you stop losing, you have a really bad day,  or you’re too tired one night to make your baked chicken and steamed spinach for dinner, so you order a pizza. Then you figure, well I had pizza, might as well get some ice cream. And then you remember how much better pizza and ice cream is than baked chicken. And it’s over. There’s tons of self loathing, which leads to more eating. And now you are back to where you started, plus 5 pounds.

THAT is one of the many reasons why going on some crazy diet or meal plan is not something I am interested in. Because while I haven’t lost much weight, I haven’t gained it either. And as they said back in my Weight Watchers days, sometimes no gain is a loss.

But if I’m totally honest with you the whole weight loss issue boils down to one thing: pictures.  Pictures that last for the rest of your life, that you hang in your house as a reminder of that special day, that your grand kids will look at one day and say “Gee Grammy, you were so pretty!” or “Oh wow Grammy, you look exactly the same!”.  I don’t want to be going through my wedding photos and nixing gorgeous shots because I think my arm looks fat or I have a double chin.

Part of me feels like this is an unavoidable thing since most women whether they’re thin, average, overweight or professional models all think they look terrible in pictures. I have one friend with not an ounce of fat on her, that thinks her smile is weird. I have another gorgeous friend who hates her arms ( I can relate), and another who works hard at avoiding a double chin in photos so much that she contorts herself in ways unimaginable before taking a photo. Women are so hard on themselves.

I go to spin class and inevitably in almost every class there is a bride-to-be working her ass off and an instructor yelling “YOU WANT TO LOOK GOOD IN THAT DRESS!”. It’s upsetting and disturbing. But you better believe I start pushing harder too. I certainly don’t want to look back on wedding photos and be embarrassed at the big fat girl stuffing her face with cake.

I know that tons of you out there will be helpful and say, “I know a great diet!”. And let me say in advance, thanks but no thanks. It is dieting that messed me up so much in the first place, so I’m good without the 30 Day All Pineapple plan or the 22 week Protein Solution or whatever. And you are probably saying to yourself, “it’s only 5 months, get over it”. And part of me agrees with you. But its the principle here.

As a lifelong dieter, I’m sick of it. Sick of counting fat, calories, carbs, sodium or whatever we are supposed to be counting these days. I swear, if I have to measure one more cup of Greek yogurt I’m going to scream! And plain steamed broccoli?! No one really wants to eat that, if they say they do, they are lying!  I want to eat delicious things! As an adult, I’ve learned that delicious doesn’t mean fattening…. all the time. But I want to want fruits and vegetables because they are fresh and taste good, not because they are zero points on Weight Watchers. I want to want to workout not because some trainer is shouting at me about dress sizes, but because I want to run faster and be stronger.

This is a rough conclusion to come to at this moment in my life. This moment where enthusiasm for steamed broccoli and Greek yogurt needs to be at an all time high and desire for  donuts needs to be eliminated. Especially because if I do want to lose weight I’ve found that counting is the best way to do it.

This post took me 2 weeks to write because this is such a loaded topic, not just for me and not just for brides-to-be but for lots of women. I have no real solution. No real answer that will both let me eat pizza and ice cream and lose weight. Or eat Greek yogurt and steam spinach and feel satisfied.

All I know is I’m wearing a wedding dress in 5 months…and I hate my arms.