Early one Saturday morning, with the sunlight slanting through the blinds over my sleepy face, my four year old crawled in bed with me to give me a hug. His sweet face hovered close over mine as he searched my eyes for signs of awakening.
He asked in his innocent, curious voice, “Mama, are you a fat lady?”
My breath caught.
He was still earnestly staring into my eyes, waiting for the answer. I wanted to lie and deny it, but it wasn’t feasible. Besides, it’s more important he learn the truth about eating and nutrition. Lying would only hurt both of us.
I swallowed hard and told him the truth.
I remember being disappointed with my wedding dress fitting eight years ago. All of my measurements, 39-26-38, were above the popular 36-24-36. Wasn’t I exercising enough and eating properly? I weighed 129 lbs, why couldn’t I drop those last nine pounds?
Ah, young Mary. So naïve. If I only knew.
Now? Well, now my body has birthed three boys. Before I could completely shed the weight after my first child, I found out I was pregnant again…this time with TWINS. Talk about gaining weight!
But like the way childless people judge the parents of mischievous children, “my kids will never do that”, I was determined I would “never be one of those moms who didn’t lose the weight”. I smugly assumed since I had gone to the gym four times a week (pre-baby) and kept a strict vegetarian diet, surely I would be an exception to all those stories of mom weight gain.
Then real life hit me in the face. And it ravaged my poor, once healthy body, leaving all this extra unseemly fat all over.
Now, I feel like a hypocrite. I believe firmly in healthy living, but it doesn’t look like I practice what I preach. I try and I try to lose weight, but keep failing, over and over and over. Part of it is my fault, part of it I cannot identify. Is it the antidepressant in addition to sheer exhaustion? Whatever – I feel like I am making excuses, which shames me.
Clothes shopping is now depressing. People treat you differently. I remember learning about this in social psychology, not really thinking much about it since that wouldn’t be me. Sigh. Now I know it’s absolutely true. People think you are less smart when you are fat, and instead of being “quirky and offbeat”, you just become “weird”.
So is it surprising I am adamant about my sons’ nutrition? Or that I go out of my way to shop at healthy grocery stores and farmer’s markets? Despite the image my body reflects?
I silently freaked out at Valentine’s Day, finding my kids’ bags full of classmate’s well-wishes in the form of hard candy made from high fructose corn syrup, Red 40, and little else. I gave them one treat each and deftly hid the bags, then spent a few hours after their bedtime separating the cards from the candy. I had an irrational guilt trip about everyone’s heart being in the right place and wasting “food”.
Was I overreacting and being a buzzkill?
An image kept coming to mind – these 93 packages of candy, all this candy holiday after holiday, at birthday parties every weekend, lollipops at school…it’s just as unhealthy as handing them a cigarette. An occasional treat is okay, but having a sugar pig-out often is not – a lesson I hope to teach them so they can avoid weight struggles and associated health issues.
The next day I handed them the cards, and much to my surprise they forgot about the candy. (Something I sadly couldn’t forget as easily.) The boys were focused on the cards, and enjoyed them so much they are still wishing people a “Happy Valentine’s Day!” in early March. Truly it was the thought that counted, and my boys are none-the-worse for not eating the candy.
I don’t want my kids to suffer with weight the way I suffer. I want them to understand healthy eating and make the right choices. I’m working on being a better role model, and though I still have a ways to go, I’m still fighting to get back to healthy me I once knew.
Do you have a mommy truth you’d like to share? Learn more about the Moms for Moms Day initiative where YOU can help make a difference in a safe and supportive environment, as well show love and support for other moms.