“Mommy, don’t ever call me fat.”
The statement from my barely on the weight charts 3 year old took me by surprise. “Why would I ever call you fat?” I asked her.
“Because you call yourself fat all the time.”
Her words stopped me in my tracks. Were the harmless jabs I took at myself not so harmless after all?
I’ve been the mother of boys for a while now. I’m used to boys. I’m used to the fact that my boys will gladly put on whatever clothes I hand them and wear them for three days straight until I tell them to change. I’m used to encouraging my boys to believe they are awesome by congratulating them when they can burp the alphabet.
Then I had 3 girls in 2 years.
I became the mother of girls when I never thought I would have a daughter. Now these little girls want to change their clothes 7 times a day (granted the twins are changing their clothes because they dribble food all over them . . . my 3 year old is changing just because). These little girls are looking to me to help them develop a positive body image and learn to be strong in a world where so many things are waiting to tear them down.
Three years in and I’m already failing.
After a twin pregnancy with lots of bedrest, my own body image took a bit of a beating. I’m proud of what I accomplished. I’m grateful that this body was able to carry two babies to 35 weeks even though I was once told I’d never be able to carry even one baby past 24 weeks.
But that extra belly fat and the stretch marks in weird places . . . that I was not proud of. Strangers still routinely ask me when my baby is due. I’m still wearing my maternity clothes 14 months in.
My daughter’s words are making me rethink my own thought patterns though. I’m trying to see the bigger picture. If I criticize my extra belly fat in front of my daughters what will they think when they bring their first baby home from the hospital and look at the leftovers left on their own belly?
I suspect that I’ll hear my own words, the words I’ve repeated to myself too many times over. My daughter’s will tell me that they are fat and uncomfortable in their own skin. And it will make me cringe that they don’t know how amazing they are. I know that in that moment I’m going to want to tell them how strong they are, what a miraculous job their body has just done creating another tiny human.
Why can’t I be kind to myself and believe that now?
Ever since I promised my daughter I wouldn’t ever call her fat she’s been running around the house saying, “My Mommy is fat! My mommy is fat!”.
When I asked her to stop because that wasn’t nice she said, “Why? You say it all the time?”.
My 3 year old may be smarter than me.
It’s time to stop saying I’m fat. My daughter deservers better than that and so do I.