Saturday, December 13, 2014

The four words my daughter said that broke my heart

"Mom, and I skinny?"  Olivia asked me this question a little while ago while we were in the car.  It was heartbreaking.  Not because there is anything wrong with being skinny, that's not what I'm saying, but so often, skinny is associated with beauty and that was what she was doing.  She wanted to know if she was pretty.  And I wish I could say that I knew exactly what to say in that moment, that I pulled out all of my amazing mom advice and sayings and answered her question perfectly, but I didn't.  I was quiet for a second because I was sad that the thought ever came to her mind, and then I was angry.  This subject doesn't come up in my house.  We don't use the words fat, skinny, thin, or anything associated.  They have never seen me stand on a scale and I have never said in front of them that I feel fat.  I've said it in front of Hubert, of course, but never in front of my girls.  It is something I have worked so hard on.  I was angry because I knew it didn't come from me, it came from the outside, from television, from standing in line at the grocery store and looking at magazines, and from people.  I'm not stupid.  I know how the world is, what society focuses on.  But she's five, and barely five.  The first time I ever remember wondering that was in junior high, thanks to my mom who also never talked about things like that with me and never focused on how I looked, but more on how I felt.  I appreciate that more than ever now.  So, finally, I started talking.  I asked her what she meant by that question.  She didn't really know the answer either.  So I started asking more questions: "How do you feel?" "Do you have fun riding your bike?" "Do you like jumping on Grandpa's trampoline?" "Do you have fun running around with Ellie all the time?"

Her answers were all yes.  And then I said that being skinny isn't important, being healthy is.  Being able to run, jump, play, ride bikes, that's what's important.  She then said this to me, "Mom, you're not skinny."  Honestly, it was music to my ears because I'm not, but I am a lot of other things.  I said back to her that she was right, but what are some things I can do?  She replied with a few things that I am able to do, things that make me healthy.  This is so badly what I wanted to hear from her because I want her to strive to be a healthy person, not an unhealthy person.  Again, being skinny isn't bad.  Many of my friends are and they are fit and strong and healthy and I love them.

The conversation ended positively and she hasn't brought it up again and hopefully she won't for a very long time.  Having girls has been so wonderful, but there are so many challenges and I know this one will be a lifetime challenge.  They will feel insecurities and bad about themselves.  These things will happen, not if, but when.  I just didn't expect it to happen when she is five.  I love this little girl so much.  She makes me happy in ways I can't describe and my happiness doesn't come from how she looks, it comes from her belly laughs, her inability to not ever walk and only ever run, her love for dancing and watching her dance all over the house, her love for playing soccer and how she just wants to score "goalies."  Her smile if infectious.  She loves her sisters.  She's a wonderful little girl, not because of how she looks, but because of how she loves.  I'm so grateful that I get to be her mom.

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