We just got back from just shy of a week in my hometown. The kids look forward to what has now become a yearly tradition, spending the Fourth of July holiday with my dad and stepmom. They love the fireworks show, the fact that Grandma makes them yummy dinners and the cats that roam through the sheds and the yard of the farm.
Nicholas and Erin both also love the scale in the bathroom. I don’t have a scale in their bathroom here at home, and to be honest I’m not sure why it’s so fun to hop on several times every day, checking to see how much more they weigh after lunch or how much less after doing something else in that bathroom.
Last night, as I sat at the dining room table trying to work, Erin bound over, plopped down and announced that she now weighs 96 pounds. She said it with a smile, almost like it was an achievement she’s been waiting to celebrate.
Then her face turned decidedly more somber, her voice dropped and she said ‘Nicholas said that it’s not good to weigh 96 pounds. He says there are grown adults who weigh only about 100 pounds, and I’m not even close to being an adult. That’s bad, right?’
I replied with what I thought was the ‘right’ mom answer. I said that the number on the scale isn’t good or bad, but it’s one way to keep track of whether or not we’re healthy. I told her that everyone’s ‘perfect’ number is different and that just because hers might be more or less than someone else’s, neither is good or bad. I told her that what matters more than that number on the scale is how she feels, if she has energy, if she’s happy.
She was quiet for a minute. Nodded her head—just once, slowly. Then she caught my eye, made sure I was paying attention, and said ‘is that how you feel, Mommy? I mean, about you?’
So there I sat, thinking surely a lifetime had passed while she watched me, feeling as naked as someone skinny dipping on a Catholic school trip and getting caught by the only nun without a sense of humor. Do I tell her the truth? Tell her that I am alternatively obsessed with and terrified of that number? Admit that I believe, more often than not, that because that number is too high I am not as worthy as others? Set her up for a lifetime of crappy self esteem and countless late night secret rendezvous with Ben and Jerry?
Her eyes—those gorgeous, innocent, expectant eyes—convinced me that I had to be honest. Because she’s not stupid, my girl; with those eyes she sees who I am even when I hope she doesn’t. She may not have put it all together yet, but she knows that I sometimes hate what I see in the mirror.
So I kept her gaze and told her that no, I don’t always feel that way. I told her that, in my case, the number on the scale might be the reason I am tired all the time, or why I can’t run like she does, or why I don’t wear shorts in the summer. I told her that it would be better for me to be healthier, and that I am trying to make the changes to make that happen, but that it takes time and sometimes I get frustrated.
And my girl; my 10 year old girl with the purple streak in her hair and the gummy bear earrings peeking out from underneath, reached her hand across the table and put it on top of mine. Then she caught my gaze again and said ‘I can be your personal trainer, mommy, if you want.’
What she doesn’t know is that she already is.
Linking up with #iPPP, which is hosted by Greta at G*Funk*ified and Sarah at The Sunday Spill. All you need is a blog post containing at least one photo from any phone camera. Link up at Greta’s place.