Thursday, March 24, 2011

Taking Up Arms


Max does this thing with me that is sweet-slash-horrifying. He clutches my upper arm and squishes the flesh, kneading it like dough, while he exclaims, "Squishy! Squishy!" I find it sweet because it's this little corner of my body that he has discovered and claimed as his own. It makes sense as I think about it. He's spent a lot of time with my upper arms; they cradled him as a baby, hoisted him around as a toddler, and shouldered snugly next to him as a reading buddy or fellow watcher of the Disney channel. It's the soft, warm security blanket he never had, I guess. The horrifying part, of course, is that few women (and probably men, too) enjoy having someone describe them as "squishy." With exclamation points.

Usually I ask him to stop. I try to be comfortable in my own skin, but it only takes about four squishy-s until I am sufficiently uncomfortable. And sometimes he seems genuinely hurt. He can't understand why I don't want my squishy arms celebrated! Frequently! In public!

Semi-related tangent: I remember this young couple from our church congregation when I was younger. The husband was whispy thin and his wife, while not fat per se, was quite thick, outweighing him by at least a few industrial bags of flour. Somewhere along the line I remember hearing that he was attracted to her soft, jiggly, fleshy arms because they reminded him of his mother. Aaaaaaaaaack! That kind of disturbing detail just doesn't leave you.

Okay, back to my story.

Beyond the regular, run-of-the-mill body image issues, I think the discomfort comes from somebody loving something about me that I find un-lovable, something I would like to change. Why isn't he obsessed with my sense of humor? My cooking? My blog?

I started doing pushups to de-squish my arms. They've always been bigger than I'd like, but once upon a time they were toned and muscular, so I decided to go retro with some exercise. I made the mistake of doing my pushups once while we were all watching TV together. Max cried out, "Noooo! Don't get rid of Squishy!"

Oh my gosh. Squishy isn't just an adjective, it's a proper noun. Kill me now.

We talked about it and struck a deal. I would keep Squishy as long as Max provided back scratches whenever I asked. (Let's break this down: I stay fat and get unlimited back scratches. Winning!) To his credit, I've received a few on-demand back scratches; however, I'm still doing pushups in the privacy of my own room (with no noticeable results). So we're both happy, I guess. Though I think the real exercise is finding a way to receive this very specific love. I'm not even sure where to begin. Every time I dip my toe into that pool, I can't help but think that someday Max will marry some wonderfully fleshy woman because it will remind him of meAaaaaaaaaack! And then I run away do more secret pushups.

What about you? Has somebody loved something about you that you dislike? How did you overcome?

20 comments:

Dede said...

I giggled through that whole thing!

One time when I cut bangs, James told me that they brought out my eyebrows...hmmm...okay? Thank you?

Becky said...

Oh my gosh! So funny! I'm so proud of you for working out such a great deal. :)

Leslie said...

Oh how I love you, and your writing, and your boy!

Ginnie said...

and I quote, "I shall call him 'Squishy,' and he shall be mine, and he shall be my Squishy."

kami @ nobiggie.net said...

"OMG - Squishy isn't just an adjective, it's a proper noun. Kill me now."


You kill me with your secret push ups.


Yes, I have it. It's my big butt. It causes me to always wear 2 sizes bigger (i think).

But, I am working on celebrating it...it's tough though.

Kim said...

"Mom, your fingers are hairy."
Looking at them I say, "No they're not."
"Oh, they just look old."

Thanks Abby.

Jennie Blaser said...

I have a mole on my face and my youngest likes to push it and then I magically say, "Buuuuuuuzzzzzz". She loves it. I hate it. But, I love her. So, she wins.

littlegypsy. said...

oh my gosh! hilarious! if it makes you feel any better, my nephew flicks my "squish" frequently and laughs wholeheartedly at my expense.

Jenny said...

My kids LOVE to point out every blemish or breakout on my face. Claire tells me I need a band aid for all my owies. Thanks. Thanks a lot.

Anneliese said...

ah hahahahah! i held back my laughter because i didn't want to try & explain Squishy to my husband. men don't see the humor in upper arm jokes.

Kari said...

I loved reading this, so funny!

Ethan squishes my arms too. He hasn't named them but he does do sound effects, really loud, sloppy sounding sound effects.

Annie said...

That story about the couple in your ward made me feel all cold inside.
The rest of the post made me laugh!

Shannon said...

Kate does the same thing with my arms--except she doesn't call them squishy. She just squishes them for fun. It bugs the crap out of me!

Kelly S. said...

Okay, this was pretty funny. My kids have asked why my sides are so much more "fluffy" as Ashlenne has put it. And I answer because Mommy has taken her sorrows out on pints of Haagen Dazs icecream.

Mia said...

This was too funny!! My kids like my squishy middle. They pinch it thinking they are tickling me and I have to force myself to laugh because I love them. Ack squishy parts!

Jesse C said...

Very funny. Everyone always tells me how skinny I am. I suppose if I were a girl that would be a great thing to hear, but I'm not. It is usually followed by something like "I mean REALLY skinny."

Uhh, thanks?

James said...

When we were visiting you guys this past fall, I was riding in the back of the van with Max and Christian on the way to NYC. Max grabbed my arm and I flexed and he said, "Your arms are like BATMAN!" I still laugh about that and I am pretty sure that made my year.

So, sorry Tiff, I think he is a good judge of arms. Just Kidding.

Dan said...

Oh, Tiff! You made my day. I can't stop laughing. My little Jesse likes to squeeze the extra chub around my tummy. He too labeled it squishy. It's real encouraging when you're trying to lose the last bit of baby weight.

Omgirl said...

When my husband and I got married, he was recently divorced and I was wife # 2. His former wife had been rather well-endowed. I, on the other hand, am not. It made me VERY self conscious. But my husband, the dear man he is, described my rather small chest as being "high performance." Bless his sweet heart.

Probably too personal to share in a blog comment, but there you have it.

Denise said...

I dislike the space between my front teeth, but have been told by my husband (and others) that it's "cute." Really? I keep thinking I'll break down and get braces, but at 48 I'm not sure how I feel about that, either. AUGH! The vanity gene. . . .

Love your blog, btw.

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