When I began to take photos of myself each morning (well, my husband does it, not me), I had decided that it was good not only for me, but for my daughter as well. It's my duty as the mother of a 6-year-old who just loves princesses to remind her as often as possible that skinny doesn't automatically mean beautiful (you know, like the princesses). I want to be sure she realizes that beauty is more than just how you look, but also that beauty is what you make it to be. (Along with that, we talk about being smart, getting good grades, being nice to people, sharing, and all the other "good parent" topics.)
But as a woman who has had weight issues her entire life, even when I wasn't *actually* overweight (I'd like to thank my dad for always reminding me I didn't need that extra helping of food), I'm hyper conscious about my daughter feeling that way as well. My hope is that in 20 years, when she's a grown woman, living her life, she will know and understand beauty, and feel comfortable being herself. I also hope that she'll look back fondly on our relationship, and how I loved her, and how I loved myself.
That seems weird to say, but honestly, I don't want her to write a post (or actually a book) like the one Kasey Edwards wrote titled "When Your Mother Says She's Fat." I highly recommend you read it, as it will help to understand what I don't want to do. I want to be nurturing, and help my daughter understand the importance of eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise. But my goal is to never make her feel bad, or ugly, or unimportant, or unloved because she's not thin. I was going to make headway on this goal by making sure she realized that even though I'm big, I'm still beautiful (as she actually says to me often).
Now, this morning, my daughter was having a playdate with a couple friends at our house, and then heading to a birthday party in the afternoon. But for some reason she was throwing down some real attitude about everything. At one point while her friends were over, I asked them to stop running in the house before someone got hurt (you know... as you do as a parent). All the kids got a little grumpy about that and mine walked over to the front door and said, "I'm outta here!" We all just looked at her, because there's a kid-proof doorknob it, and she can't get out... I may have even smiled, knowing she couldn't go anywhere. But what came next from her, I simply couldn't have prepared for.
"You're not that skinny, you know!"
Her friend looked at me with huge, astonished eyes, then back at her.
"Wait, what did you say?" I asked, wanting to be clear on what I'd heard.
She gasped and immediately started bawling. She ran to her room yelling how sorry she was, and cried on her bed for a while. I didn't actually know what to do. I was in shock.
Since this morning, she's apologized several times, and she often tells me how beautiful I am (perhaps as much as I tell her). I'm not actually upset with her at all; I'm finding that I just keep questioning myself, my motives, and trying to figure out what she meant exactly.
Did I do something that I didn't realize, that made her say that (even when it seemed so random)?
Does she see through me saying I feel pretty, knowing full well that I really don't like the way I look?
Does she think that I think that I'm skinny?
Does she simply know that I worry too much about my weight, so she knew my weight was an easy target when she was angry?
I don't really know the answer to any of these questions, and I'm not totally sure I want to know the answer. But what I do know is that the things I do, say and feel... affect her as well. She picks up on things, and sees through me, and reads me. I'm pretty sure she knows if I'm bullsh*tting her. So I need to work harder on getting myself together, because she needs me to. Hell, I need me to.
This post originally appeared on Jen's blog.