If you have read any of the blogs I have written in the past, if you have not you can from this link, I often use this space to process my own parenting skills.
There are days when I get the "you are the greatest mom ever" from my boys and then there are moments where I just know, sigh, that I have no real definitive clue on what I am doing but I do know I could have done it better.
You have to add in, if you are trying to be self-aware like I am, those things you carry from your own childhood, the projections you place on your child and admit there will be times when you do something exactly like your parents. Both good things and yes some things you cringe and think f^&k why did I just do that when I hated it ?!
I am a person who struggles with weight. I do not know when this struggle started because as a young child, could be living in a Communist bloc country and the lack of variety of food had a lot to do with it, I was not an overweight kid. Actually I was an underweight kid for a long time because I suffered with tonsils until 3 and could eat very little.
I do not remember noticing my weight in first grade in Romania and it is not because we did not notice, as I also distinctly remember the mean jibes the three kids in my class got from other kids and worse from the teacher for being slightly more padded. I do not recall them being severely overweight and the horror of these memories revolve around the teacher in particular that we had calling them out on it. I am glad times have changed because that sucked for them and I am sure had some impact on the rest of us, knowing that it was not something you wanted to get attention for.
There are numerous pictures of me when I first arrived in the States and while I would have described myself a chubby if you asked, when I look at them I wonder why did I think that. I am not a skinny kid but I am not overweight.
By high school it was something I hated and again I found my graduation picture and where is that heavy girl I swore I would see? I did have friends who were teeny, tiny sizes but there were plenty of girls my size (and hey these size D boobs did nothing to help with the "skinny" look) or bigger who were not fat either. Yet I know it was a big deal to be thin, to be a certain size - but I have also always liked good food and diet food has yet to seem appealing.
By college I lost weight on the I have money for cigarettes and going out diet, not much left for actual food - not recommending. You are thin but your health and your lungs are giving you the finger.
I have struggled with body image, with how much I weigh, lose, look like. I have gotten to a better place with it in the last year, where I am looking to lose some weight but not obsessing about it. I cannot tell you how often I have changed before I left the house because something showed more of fat area than I was comfortable with. I cringe at the image of me without my clothes, I am glad I do not have to date new people and have that added burden to contend with (you know is he going to make a face when I take it off, mood lighting is code for I do not want you to see me). The only way you know the number on my pants would be if I told you and who cares, better to be my size and fit than the smaller size and I look like they are a torturous device. I am working on my own cringe.
I who do not like classes, tolerate the gym in small doses and miss walking through the city because walking through the 'burbs is snoozville have found one activity I love - tennis. Of note this city girl also finds empty streets and wooded areas much more frightening than anything the city has to offer. Tennis I love, I found a coordination I would have sworn did not exist, I look forward to it - I actually make plans to play and miss it. It could be the outfits, it could be the people I play with, it could be the fun times I associate with the times I get to play with a friend who coaches me. It is awesome and yes it took being in my 40s to find it.
Is it any wonder that I do not know how to approach my son who is gaining weight in a way that concerns me ? Who has no affinity for the gym or exercise for the most part ?
I mean how do I do it without all the negative stigma I associate with the comments my own parents had for me. My mother thought she was helpful, my father thought he could point out the shame and difficulty it would bring me. I heard none of that - I heard you are fat.
So here we are, the long road to this blog topic, how do I parent a child who needs it in a way that it is at 80% well received? I want him not to be the one laughing at his weight when others tease him because that is the way he can control the hurtful situation. I want him to want to lose the excess weight because it is better for him. I want to help him understand before his teens that changes that he makes do not mean deprivations.
He was not blessed with those metabolism genes, you know the ones that some people have where they eat and eat and oh yeah eat and I listen to them tell that story and gain weight.
Some days I am the "greatest mom" but many others I am the I am trying my best mom. I decided to approach it as a health and lifestyle choice. I am hoping those who read this who know him understand that he would not want to hear "advice" on the subject unless he approached them for it.
I am going to work with him as I work with this for my own issues, with getting into better shape. He knows I started weight watchers and I love that he said he has no idea why I need it.
The struggle with body image is real for boys and girls. The struggle with parenting to make it better is real for all of us who want to do this parenting thing as well as possible. I do not know if others have kids in this predicament but any ideas are welcome. I have these amazingly confident kids who just seem to want to keep being great - I just want to give them the tools to do that. I wish for my son not to have this be such a big part of his life, the way it was for mine, while never losing the fact that it is important to manage it well. I guess I want him to manage his weight not have his weight manage him.