One day my child will most likely try to suffocate me in my sleep for writing this but it’s what on my mind. I want her to one day be able to read this and know mama understood her “growing pains” and just how perfect she is despite how she may feel.
The subject: children and how they feel about their bodies.
So, here’s a little background on yours truly. I was never the super skinny kid in elementary school. In fact, I grew faster than all my friends, so fast in fact, that I was the unfortunate recipient of stretch marks. Not only that, but I had a prominent belly and was considered a “chunky” little girl until around the seventh grade when mother nature graced me with hormones and the activity necessary to lean out. Also, this was around the time I became involved in sports and band and was so busy burning calories, that I didn’t realize my body was changing for the leaner. The key point here: I don’t remember being overly concerned with my appearance. Comparing maybe, but not enough to where it affected my confidence.
When I was a child, most of my friends were much skinnier than me. I loved food, ate what I wanted and was generally always the taller, rounder kid in the room. My mother didn’t feed me a lot of fast food and tried her best to put healthy options in front of me. Most of my friends were bean poles, could eat anything they wanted to and remained bean poles. Do I remember it bothering me? Yes. Do I remember a kid or two making a comment about it? Yes. Was it a life altering of a situation? Fortunately, no.
The situation that I’m fretting over at the moment is that my daughter is built just like me at her age and I’ve seen her struggling over how she views her body. Yes, some kids have said things insinuating she is fat. Not cool. You never really forget how people make you feel, right?
Last night, I took her to a seasonal production performance practice where she danced for about an hour with several of her close friends and tried on her performance outfit. All was fine UNTIL it was time for the trying on of the costumes. From the moment she was handed that red leotard, I instantly saw the look of dread wash over her rosy cheeked, perspired face. Pure panic. Girlfriend not only had me lock the dressing room door, but I had to literally stand there with my hand on the door handle just to make sure no one barged in on her.
She tried my patience I’m not even going to lie. I wanted to scream, “Just put the dang thing on so we can get out of here and to your next extracurricular activity that I’m taking you to on a FRIDAY night chika!”
Girls are drama. For the past few years, it’s the same issue with each shopping trip, every time she has to put on a swimsuit where her friends will be there and any time she has to change clothes with someone besides me around.
It is what it is. She looked different from her friends, knew it and it was devastating her. I mean, heck, I would cry if I had to put on a leotard too!
A mother wants to fix things right?: In this case, cook healthier, limit fast food, put the child in high calorie burning sports. Anything to help the kiddo get physically fit without making it enough of an issue to where dangerous self image issues manifest into the teen years and beyond.
I’ve tried all that over the years. Maybe it’s just one of those epic mom fails or maybe it’s genetics.
After we got in the car last night when the trying on of the hideous red leotard was over, she slide into her seat and burst into tears. “I don’t like my body mama! I look different than all my friends.”
“Honey, mama felt the exact same way when I was your age. I’m sorry you feel this way. I had friends that were so skinny that they didn’t like their bodies either. You are beautiful inside and out and I love you. We can always eat healthier and exercise more but we are who we are and we have to learn to love ourselves despite what stage of life our body is in.” (Which is kind of like the pot calling the kettle 50 shades of complete and utter pitch black since I had my tummy fixed last year. Maybe she’ll understand after her body is destroyed bringing life into the world, BUT moving on… 🙂 )
All I know, is that we are signed up for basketball, then soccer, I put fruit and veggie options on her plate most days, she loves food like I did, is a great student, is a pretty darn good piano player, she sees me working out and having a balance of the types of food eaten and I try not to make it a big issue since all the experts say DON’T. You all know why.
If you see her, don’t mention mama wrote a blog post about her. The introverted diva darling would seriously slip her homemade slime in my food to show out.
My daughter knows we adore her and will support her every step of her journey in this crazy world. Who knows. Maybe one day when she has leaned out and is smoking hot with curves I may wish for these days to return!
Parenthood: all of us figuring it all out on the job and who ever REALLY has it figured out. 🙂