They say the last ten pounds is always the hardest to lose. You can cut carbs and sweat and exercise and restrict calories, but it’s that last ten pounds (for most of us) that always seems to hang on. Ask any mom: it’s that last ten pounds of baby weight. Ask any woman who’s tried to diet: it’s that last ten pounds. Your body always seems to want to hang onto those last ten pounds. “If I could only lose ten more,” we always seem to be saying. “Just ten more, and I’ll be happy. Just ten more. Ten more pounds.”
But what are those ten pounds, really? That ten pounds where your body really wants to just sit, those ten pounds you have to sweat and work and break yourself to lose, and just when you think you’ve lost them, you gain them back?
Those ten pounds are perfect. They are life’s rich pageant; they are the pleasures upon which the world turns. Those ten pounds are your beautiful moments coming together to make a glorious whole.
Those ten pounds are the cake you make for your son’s birthday party. You promised him a dinosaur cake, and a dinosaur cake you make, all Betty Crocker and buttercream, food dye and fake eyes. You ice in terrible teeth and terrible claws; you spike up spines. You stick in that number six — six, where did your baby go?! — and you carry it out to the table. His face glowing in the firelight, you sing Happy Birthday to the boy who made you a mother, who will always be your baby. You cut the cake. You eat a slice. This is your ten pounds.
Those ten pounds are the day your kids have spent running in circles and screaming. They have beaten each other with swords. They have taken the cushions off the couch. They have made messes and worn wolf suits and made mischief of one kind and another and not in cute ways, either. You are worn to the bone. You know you should go for a run. You know you should hop on an exercise bike. Instead, you soak in a warm tub with a bath bomb and a glass of wine. This is your ten pounds.
Those ten pounds are the day your boobs will not stop leaking, your baby will not stop screaming, your toddler will not stop throwing blocks and your cable will not stop blipping out. Your three-year-old wants a sandwich and your baby wants a boob and your dog wants outside and you just want motherfucking coffee. Those ten pounds are the venti Starbucks your saintly partner picks up on their way home from work, because they love you and they know your day was hell.
Those ten pounds are the day your dishes pile up. Your dust bunnies have become sentient. Your laundry will not stop staring at you and your cleaning supplies look resentful from disuse. You can’t remember the last time you swept the floor. You can’t remember the last time you washed your baseboards. You can’t remember the last time you scoured the tub. But instead of rolling up your sleeves and scrubbing down the house, you sit on your couch. You smell the head of your sleeping baby. You sit with this small, perfect being on your chest and feel them breathe against you. Those ten pounds are the day you decide to rock your baby instead of cleaning the house.
Those ten pounds are the shitty work week you spent working against deadline after deadline. Your spouse has been cranky and exhausted; you’ve been cranky and exhausted; the kids have been cranky and exhausted and god knows the dog has probably been cranky and exhausted, too. All you want is to pull the covers over your head and sleep, but you and your spouse already paid the sitter and planned a date night, so you throw on something nice and trudge out to a restaurant. Soon you’re laughing and eating and having a blast. You’ve forgotten the shit week, lost in each other, finally finding that peace and laughter that brought you together in the first place. You get the chocolate ganache for dessert; your partner gets the cheesecake, and you split them, giving each other bites off each other’s forks. Those are your ten pounds.
Your ten pounds are the pizza party you couldn’t miss because your kid got straight As.
Your ten pounds are the Girl Scout cookies you hid for two months and then snarfed that day you really, really needed a sweet treat.
Your ten pounds are the chocolate your thoughtful friend sent you for Valentine’s Day.
Your ten pounds are the times you didn’t work out because you wanted to spend more time with the kids. Or napping.
Your ten pounds are the steaks your partner grilled last weekend.
Your ten pounds are the s’mores your kids made over the campfire, just for you.
Your ten pounds are the jigsaw puzzle you did with your mother-in-law instead of going on a beach walk, because you knew she was tired and wanted the company.
Your ten pounds are the axis on which the world turns.
Your ten pounds are the niceties that make civilization worth living.
They are the cupcakes on your birthday. They are the cream in your coffee. They are the time you spend reading a novel, the extra snatch of sleep in the morning, the board games with your children and the driving lessons with your teen. Those last ten pounds are the moments that make up a life. A full, rich, beautiful life.
Sure, you could lose those last ten pounds. If you tried really hard. If you sweated it out. If you worked and denied yourself and beat yourself up and broke yourself on the exercise bike or at a Crossfit class. You could do it.
But it’s only ten pounds.
And life is made of love and marshmallows. And that last ten pounds should not stop you from living it, enjoying it, cherishing it.