Little Ears Are Listening

I rarely use this blog for personal thoughts, but this is on my heart and was too long for a facebook post.

The other day my son, who is almost five years old, patted his tummy and remarked that he needed to get in shape and that he was getting fat. WHAT?? HUH? OH NO! It was funny for half a second and then I was like no honey… Immediately I realized that he must hear me say this often. I know I think it to myself, but didn’t realize how much I say it out loud. Ouch.

This led to thoughts about my mom and how much I appreciate the way she raised my sisters and me. There are many things she did well, but the one I’ve been thinking about today is that I never heard my mom talking about body shape/size, or that she needed to get in shape. She did exercise when she had time and we did eat healthy meals together, but I never heard her commenting that she needed to get in shape. She didn’t talk about it, but did take care of herself. As a result, I was not self-conscience of my body the first 16 years of my life. Just a happy, self-confident kid who loved school and my friends. (There were a couple instances around 11-13 yrs old when the pediatrician said I weighed 10 pounds more than she’d like; this was news to me and I didn’t really like that her after that. And then of course the mean boy in a the middle school hall who called me fat – Must have hurt my feelings if I remember it 17 years later). But on the whole, I didn’t battle any body-image issues until I was 16 and watched the video of my surprise birthday party and thought, “Is that what I look like?” At that moment when I decided I wanted to make changes, my mom encouraged “a little more exercise and better food choices,” rather than any fad-crash diets. (I tried those too and they were a waste of money.) Mom’s motto was “Moderation and balance.” So I got after it, and probably became too obsessed. I never skipped meals, but I didn’t eat any fat (p.s. That’s not healthy), and did exercise daily. One time when I was 17 and had lost quite a bit of weight we were going in a building I couldn’t get the door open and my mom said, “You do need to be able to open doors…” She also told me it wasn’t attractive to see my bones. (I have more meat on my bones now :))

Looking back at college years, working at summer camp for 6 years, and working with brides, I’ve met ladies and friends who also have been consumed with their image and weight. They are beautiful ladies who don’t see themselves that way. It is kinda sad to be around someone who is fixated on body image– who only sees flaws. So it is eye-opening to realize I’ve also been that gal, rarely satisfied with herself, usually trying to get to a “goal weight.” In contrast, it is so much more enjoyable to spend time with someone who is at peace with who they are, just loving and living life. They may not be fulfilled in every aspect of life, but they have more about them than concern for their weight. (Thank you to my friends who put up with me). Being obsessed with weight/image really is kinda self-centered/vain, and it’s a tough lesson to realize I am selfish! (That’s come to my attention more after being married and having kids).

I looked at our wedding pictures yesterday and thought, wow I was a little heavy, but I sure do look happy. That’s interesting. Big smile with eyes disappearing in my cheeks 🙂 I was happy when I was big and pregnant too 🙂 When I talk about needing to get in shape, my husband says, “Round is a shape.” Haha, but actually it’s very nice to be loved as you are, and feel secure. So in addition to being thankful for Mom, and I’m thankful for a great husband!

Back to parenting and wrapping up… Some things you do and say as a parent are just like what your parents did with you. Sometimes you might intentionally do things differently than your parents, but I just realized there were some positive things my mom did for us that I was NOT doing for my kids, and I want to change that so my kids can also grow up secure & confident in who they are! I’m glad Ty said what he said out loud so I could have this wake-up call.

On health and fitness: My degree from OSU is in Health Promotion and I loved it! I just bought new tennis shoes yesterday, signed up for the OKC half marathon, have run twice this week, and feel great! The point of this post was not to diminish the importance of exercise and healthy eating, but rather to say my hope is to continue with healthy habits without making them an obsession, and most importantly considering the words I say out loud, because little ears are listening. I may always battle these thoughts, or maybe the Lord will relieve me of them. (But then again, it is good to be aware of our weaknesses to rely all the more on His strength). For now, I’m just amazed at how much I’m learning from my kids. Mom says having kids is like having a mirror in front of you, and that seems to be true.