It doesn’t take long to realize that whatever we blow the most air into pretty much floats to the top. Buoys up with eventual force to pop through the surface. Make no mistake about it. I am learning very quickly that this applies to the airtime that we give to topics in front of our children. This can be a good thing. This can also flip an asset right on its head and make it an enormous liability. To get to the point, I saw a blurb somewhere recently that said something to the effect of:
People think women dream of a perfect man. Bullshit. Women dream of eating without getting fat.
Oh, do I get that to a certain vain and ridiculous extent. That must be why it made me giggle. And I’ll be damned, there’s more than a pound of truth to it. I cannot tell you how many times I have whined more than audibly in front of my daughter about not being able to button my jeans. I have allowed myself to be reduced to tears behind closed doors as naked as I came into this world atop of a scale- trying to pass the puffy red eyes off as seasonal allergies when she asks what it wrong.
The long, short, fat, skinny and stout of it: I have body image issues and am terrified that I have unknowingly passed some of this destructive thinking onto my 8-year-old daughter. I really thought that she was too young to actually catch onto this vicious cycle of self-loathing and loving that moms everywhere succumb to on any given bloated or emotional day.
It isn’t really much fun to blog about such a Debbie Downer of a topic. Sometimes, you just gotta suck it up and air the dirty laundry even if it is a size to which you don’t want to own up. This is an important topic. Not fun but important. Women gain weight when they have kids. This no-duh unrevelation frequently leads us to tip the post-partum scales at a number that we do not like. I admit it. I am a work in progress on this issue. But I will tell you where I have made immediate changes that have absolutely nothing to do with counting carbs or calories burned. I have stopped talking about it in front of my kids. Both of them. Period.
Don’t get me wrong. We still stress nutrition and try to migrate towards the Kashi over the Cocoa Puffs on the cereal aisle. Now though, I refrain from saying things like I can’t have that on an offer from the kid to share the Friday afternoon ice cream scoop. The unwelcome epiphany came one day when I saw Olivia scowling at the side of the box of Cheez-Its in the kitchen. She acted appalled at the calorie count. On another occasion, she chastised me for getting 2% milk rather than skim. On another occasion, I caught her sucking her already tiny stomach in at her reflection in the mirror until her ribs showed.
It is the kind of moment that a mother experiences when they notice that the latch to the poisonous kitchen products has been loosened. There is a moment of sickening uncertainty about whether or not any poison has been consumed by a child. Gut. Wrenching. No other way to describe it.
I could probably take a minute or two to go and google some startling statistics about the rise in eating disorders among pre-adolescents. Instead, I will tell you a story about a neighbor and dear friend who still wears the scars of this type of upbringing to this day. She just turned 40 last June. Growing up, her mother was very weight conscious and frequently made snide remarks about size and the way clothing fit. I would like to believe that it was meant as some form of constructive criticism but I am here to tell you that it just has not played out that way. My neighbor admittedly has body image issues to this day. She blames her mother. It has permanently affected the quality of their relationship. At this point, the damage to that relationship seems somewhat irreversible. I hope not but evidence seems to point that way.
Folks say that the statute of limitations expires on most childhood traumas. This is simply not one that I care to have on my record with my kid. This is simply not one that I care to blow any more air into because really, the only thing that needs to float to the surface around here are things which help us have fun and enjoy this maniacal ride called childhood and parenting. I may continue to grow on that horizontal plane but, in the meantime, I think that I will enjoy a minute of growing as a parent. Thanks for listening. Bottoms up.