Mumma? Do you think I’m fat and need to lose weight ‘cause I do…..
When Lucy asked me that question this morning, I was in the refrigerator pulling out our lunches
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath
This is one of those moments as a parent, depending on how you answer, how you react, will create such an indelible impression on your child that you want to make sure you get it as close to right as possible
That little voice pulled me out of the fridge and I leaned back so I could see her and she could see me
Her eyes were downcast and her chin was resting on her chest
Mumma….do you think I’m fat? And do you think you are? Do you think you need to lose weight?
I closed my eyes again
Luce, look at me honey
I dropped the lunches on the floor and knelt in front of her
Honey, why do you think you are fat?
Because I have a belly – and well, boy 1 and boy 2 at school said you are fat and I’m fat and we both need to lose weight….do you think we need to lose weight? They also said my lunches are too big
I put my hands on her shoulders and stretched my arms back trying to make her look me in the eyes
Honey, look at me
She picked her head up
Lucy, you are healthy – and that is all that matters – you are healthy and if you have a belly now at the age of 7, that does not mean you will always have a belly
But you do Mumma……..you have belly, and they said I would be fat because you are….so I think I need to lose weight to be healthy
Lucy, you brush your teeth twice a day, you eat your fruits and vegetables, you do soccer, swimming and karate…..does that sound healthy to you
Yeah…. She said as she dug her toe into the floor
And do you try to be kind and do your best every day?
I think I do Mumma
And do you think that every day you get better at something?
She started to brighten up a little
Yeah! I’m getting better at push-ups, just ask Daddy and Sensei!
Ok well then you know what honey, healthy isn’t just about the how you look or how much you weigh, it’s about how you live your life
Belly or no belly, as long as you are trying to live a healthy life, which includes being kind, eating well, brushing your teeth, doing your best, (said with a loving poke to her belly button and a giggle from her as she swatted my hands away), you are just the way you should be!
Ok Mumma – but Mumma
I don’t think you are fat even if boy 1 and 2 said you are, I think you are beautiful and me and Daddy love your belly!
I know you do honey, and I love your bellies! Both yours and Daddy’s!
I hugged her to my soft belly – the one which carried her for nine of my favorite months of my whole life – and wondered if I had handled it as well as I could have and should have
While dropping her off at school, I saw the two little boys who called her, us, fat
I wondered how, why, at such a tender age (7) they think it’s ok to say something like that to someone
But then I reminded myself they are only 7
And at 7, kids are still a bit too innocent and honest for their own good
Not that being 7 ever makes it ok to call someone fat or judge by appearance…but I guess I like to think their intentions were not wholly malicious
Kids are honest, kids call it like they see it
And I am fat
I don’t think Lucy is but yes, I am
I mean really, I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember
And I am okay with that
Sure, I got picked on when I was a kid – by my brother, my sisters, kids at school, a couple cousins, even some adults
I’ve even been picked and made fun of as an adult
It’s taken me a long time (30+ years) to be ok with myself – and with the way I was being picked on
Does not mean it is ok; it just means I process it in a way that bears minimal impact to me – to who I am because no matter what my weight is, my heart is still the same
It’s taken me 30+ years to be ok with it
And a lot of smoking….and eating…and losing weight….and drinking….and gaining it back……and losing it…..and gaining it back
You get the picture
And sure, it still bothers me when someone calls me fat (including when I call myself fat)
But not the way it used to
It bothers me for different reasons
But not as much as when someone calls my daughter fat
A couple of weeks ago, Lucy asked me to pack less in her lunch
When I asked her why, she just shrugged
I did not push for an answer and we pack her lunch together in the mornings
Now I know why
And I want to both hug and shake the two reasons why
I want to hug boy 1 and boy 2 because I think they need it
I want to shake them because at 7, they are already treating a little girl with utter disrespect….I
shudder to think what will happen as they get older
My losing weight will not change the seed planted in my daughter’s head
My treating myself with love and respect will
Taking a shower, brushing my teeth, being kind, trying my hardest, learning from my mistakes, asking for forgiveness and giving forgiveness are just as much a part of a healthy life as the number on my scale
I think they may actually be healthier….