A couple of months before Zoe was born, Gwyneth Paltrow shared her views on new mothers losing the baby weight through exercise. She said, “Every woman can make time---every woman---and you can do it with your baby in the room. There have been countless times where I've worked out with my kids crawling around all over the place. You just make it work, and if it’s important to you, it’ll be important to them.”
I only heard about what she’d said after I gave birth to Zoe, probably about eight weeks after, because that was when the doctor said it was safe to start exercising again following a c-section, and I plunged right back into a daily routine. Excuse me a moment while I wipe the tears of laughter off my face. It took longer than that for me to return to exercising at all not to mention with any regularity. Fact is, I am not like Every Woman/Gwyneth Paltrow. I was tired. You see, I’d been getting up several times a night to feed a baby, then, after I went back to work full time, there was commuting, plus day-care pickups, preparing meals, doing laundry, trying on designer dresses, keeping up with my exciting nightlife . . . oh wait, those last two were from Gwyneth’s life. Her every woman-ness is insidious like that, you start having her thoughts.
"Zoe vs. Exercise" was the alternative name for this post.
Zoe's not against exercise, to judge by her constant state of movement, aka her waking life. She’s against me, and to a lesser extent, her father, exercising. And I’m not including here endless rounds of “Ring Around the Rosy” (Why don’t two-year-olds get dizzy?). Or performing extra vehement renditions of “Wheels on the Bus” to engage your obliques. I’m talking about weights, lunges, and all those variations on plank that are supposed to tighten the core muscles and get me back into those jeans I could barely zip all the way up before I got pregnant.
Toddlers have a tendency to want attention. So it was a real head-scratcher to me how Gwyneth could exercise with her kids in the room. It was one thing when Zoe was an infant but when she became ambulatory, forget it. As soon as I get down on the floor to start stretching, Zoe’s all over me. I get in push-up position, and Zoe sees it as an invitation to play horsey. Sit-ups she interprets as a variation on peek-a-boo, with her little forehead intercepting mine on the up motion: “Ow, boo-boo.” “I sorry.” “Hi, Mommy!”
Mommy magazines suggest using your baby as a kind of free weight, holding them while doing squats, balancing them on your legs as you do crunches. I did this a few times but eventually gave up because: Ow, boo-boo. I considered baby yoga but I don’t see how you can expect these little beings to hold poses when they can’t even hold their bladders. Even when she’s not literally in my face, she’s trying to get my attention, calling for mommy, asking for juice, yelling, “I poop!” And I have to stop what I’m doing to see if she pooped, though I eventually learn that if she tells me she pooped she hasn’t because if she has she’ll never admit it.
Our eventual solution was to use Elmo as a distraction, running his DVDs back to back. I will be very embarrassed if Gwyneth finds out. I heard somewhere that she only lets her kids watch cartoons in French or Aramaic or something just, you know, Better.
So how was Gwyneth able to exercise while Apple and Moses crawled around all over the place? My theory? They don't know she's their mother. And I’m just gonna assume that Gwynnie had a little help, like a nanny, or two nannies, or a team of nannies and housekeepers, cooks and stylists, and that maybe this paved her way just a little bit.
I also take issue with her last sentence, that if it’s important to you it’ll be important to your children. It doesn’t make me all mad like her previous comments. I’m more baffled. Now I can see what she’s saying in an overall family values way, like eventually, someday, in the far distant future, when my bones are too brittle for any sustained movement, Zoe will recall my foolhardy and doomed attempts at exercise and see me as a good example, but right now, I have to say, there is nothing that is important to me that Zoe has also recognized as important. Not Mommy sleeping, not Mommy drinking a cup of coffee while it’s still hot, certainly not Mommy going to the bathroom.
Now that her kids are older, and in school, Gwyneth exercises for two hours a day with a celebrity trainer. And if her kids were around, maybe they’d be keeping each other busy conferring via top-of-the-line electronic devices on how old they have to be before they can legally change their names.
But as for my husband and me, for now we are taking turns, and through the grace of Elmo I will someday again almost fit in those jeans.
Zoe: 3; Universe: 0