Oh, hi. Did I grab your attention? That phrase hit me figuratively and literally as the Angry Toddler (our four-year-old daughter, Delaney) said it to me the other night during our nighttime book/songs/potty/songs/potty/drink/POTTY (sheesh) routine. I cuddled up close to her, with my husband on the other side, as we sang “Delaney Talks to Statues” by Jimmy Buffett. She hugged and prodded my arm as that phrase flew out from the mouth of babes. Can you hear the tires in my head screeching like a banshee yet?
Now, I know I’ve talked a bit about this before, but I’m an eating disorder survivor (because it really was hell, and it still is at times) of over a decade. My self-esteem isn’t where it should be, despite my amazing husband telling me that he loves me every day and that I’m beautiful or despite my mom and sister telling me that I rock (thanks, guys!). I don’t know how to describe it except to say you know how it feels if you’ve had an eating disorder. (I pray you’re never part of THAT cool kids club.) There’s always going to be that voice inside your head that rejects the positives about yourself. It spews hateful words to counteract your PMA (positive mental attitude) no matter how chipper you may be on any given day.
Tom and I have been trying to teach the Angry Toddler not to use the F-A-T word toward people. We try to gently and wisely explain that it can be a descriptive word for, y’know, cute, cuddly puppies or the like. I don’t know. But just not people, OK? And I think she truly does understand that for the most part. But in that moment, all she felt was literal fat on my arm. I get that. It is nice and pillowy. I really can’t fault her for it, but those words were like a tiny cocktail dagger in my heart for a split second. I quickly explained (as did Tom) that all people have that on their arms, as I slipped in, “And Mommy’s working on it, right?”
Slow down, killer. Hold the phone. Why did I feel the need to add that last bit? It wasn’t necessary. She doesn’t really understand why I lift our little five-pound weights while watching Doctor Who or The Leftovers. Why isn’t it enough that I just, well, am what I am?!
That was a huge mind bender for me as I thought about it later that night. As she grows and matures, I’m not always going to be able to side step my real reactions around her without her noticing. I need to come to grips with my body and realize that I’m so much stronger than I think I am.
All I can do is fuel my body with real foods, keep my running game alive, and show her how to properly take care of her body. I hope I’ve done a fairly decent job of that so far, but I know it’s only going to get harder as she grows up.