In the last year and a few months, I’ve lost a lot of weight. And by a lot, I mean over 100 lbs. I still have another 20-40 that I would like to lose, but I’m pretty happy with where I am compared to where I was a year ago. I’m not telling you this to get a pat on the back or for people to tell me what a great job I did or how hard it must have been. I’m telling you because it’s important to the story I’m about to tell.
My kids are generally pretty observant people. If I’m in the living room downstairs and whisper something to their dad that I don’t want them to hear, they’ll hear it from upstairs in their bedrooms through closed doors and concrete floors. My almost ten year old son has a great ear for music, and can tell you when a note is “off.” (Me? I’m pretty sure I’m tone deaf!) I think my seven year old daughter will grow up to be a police officer, because she always gets on my case when she thinks I’m driving too fast or following too closely or I make a Mexican stop at a stop sign (they really don’t stop at ALTO signs here – stopping is likely to get you rear ended!). She doesn’t let me get away with ANYTHING, that girl! My five year old son knows if I move one of his million and a half Little People to a new location, and he’s perfectly willing to give me hell about it. Again, my point is that they notice things. However, until a few days ago not one of them seemed to have noticed their rapidly shrinking mother.
Part of this is because I’ve actively refrained from mentioning it to them. My mom was constantly dieting when I was a child (and a teen) (and an adult) and it really negatively impacted whole view of weight and food issues. I also had the feeling that she was constantly “worried” about my weight, and that contributed to a very poor body image. I spent all of high school believing I was “fat” at 140 lbs (and I so wasn’t!). I don’t want that for my kids, particularly my daughter. While there’s no way anyone could reasonably call her fat/chubby/chunky, etc. , she’s very, very tall for her age and often feels self conscious about it. If she’s anything like the other women in my family, puberty will likely hit young (I was only a year older than her when I started wearing my first bra) and I want her to be as comfortable in her own skin as possible when that happens. Having the body of a woman when you’re ten is problematic in a lot of ways, and body image is one thing I can have some positive impact on.
Oh yes. There was a story I was going to tell. Okay. Last week, after several weeks of Northern Baja/Southern California “winter,” it hit 80 degrees. (Or, since I live in Mexico, I guess I should say 27 degrees.) I put on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt that actually fit me, after months of baggy clothes that I was shrinking out of. As I was pulling on my shorts, I noticed a buldge in each of my thighs that hadn’t been there before. It was muscle! Awesome! As I was walking down the stairs to start my day, I encountered my daughter, lying at the bottom, her nose buried in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. As she squinted up at me, I thought the glaring white of my legs might be blinding her. But then she gave me a big smile and said, “Mommy, you look like you’re getting SO strong!” and buried her nose back in her book.
Both the feminist and the mother in me got a little teary. My daughter’s first comment about my weight loss was about how strong she sees me as a mother, as a woman. It wasn’t a “Mommy, you’re so skinny!” or “Mommy, you’re so pretty!” – it was about strength. I felt a little orgasmic burst of “I’m doing something right!” pride. At least some of what I’m trying to teach her about what it means to be a woman is sinking in, and I can’t stop smiling about it.