Thursday, June 02, 2011

Thank Heavens for Little Girls, and Big Ones Too...By Liimu

I have a theory. I believe that the size of my kids directly correlates not with their weight at birth, but rather with how much weight I gained during each pregnancy. When my eldest daughter was born, she weighed 6.5 pounds and her thighs were so skinny, I could circle one of them with my thumb and middle finger and have finger left to spare. Now, at 8 years old, she wears a size 7.5 women's shoe, is nearly 5 feet tall and weighs as much as many of my friends. I gained 90 pounds when I was pregnant with her. 16 months later, after gaining only 45 pounds, I gave birth to her sister, who weighed in at a respectable 7.5 pounds, but had not reached Devon's 2-month length by her 4-month birthday. She is 7.5 years old now and shares clothes with her 4 year old sister.

I've tried to explain this to my 8 year old when she complains that she wants to lose weight (sad, but true) because she wants to weigh what the other girls in her class weigh (75 pounds, vs. her 110). I try to explain to her that she is growing at exactly the rate she has her entire life - which is literally heads and shoulders above her peers. I tried to explain that when she was 6 months old, she wore 12 months clothes, and when she was 12 months old, she wore 2T, and when she was 2 years old, she wore 4t, etc. Nothing has changed. I tried to explain to her that as long as she stays active and makes healthy choices, she will continue to be healthy and beautiful. I try to set a good example for her of how to do just that.

My sister pointed out that there is one thing I could do better than I'm doing now, which is to set a good example for her around loving and accepting myself. I realized recently that the extent to which I have been pushing myself to get back to my prepregnancy weight quickly (like all those freaking celebrities do that are all over the tabloids - think Penelope Cruz), I have been sending a conflicting message to the love-yourself-you're-perfect-just-the-way-you-are message I've been trying to send her since she saw her first class photo that looked like she had taken a wrong turn from the elementary school and ended up in a day care center. Much the same way my beautiful 8-year old daughter is built to be closer in size to her 12 year old cousin than her 7-year old sister, I'm built to make big, strong healthy babies by having big strong, healthy pregnancies. Love it, deal with it, accept it and get over it. And just as sure as she will blossom into a statuesque beauty in her teens and adulthood, I know for a fact I will be back to my beautiful, sassy post-partum self in no time. I've done it before (three times!!), and I will definitely do it again.

So to all my girls all over the world, whether you're 4'10" or 5'10", whether you gain only 10 pounds when you're pregnant or you gain 100, I challenge you to love and accept yourself as you love and accept your children, your nieces, your mothers, your sisters and your friends. I challenge you to hold yourself to the same firm but gentle standard of healthy eating and activity you would want your daughters to follow. I will not force myself to workout for an hour every day anymore than I would force my children to. But I will try to find ways to be active. And if it's a beautiful day and I've been working on the computer all day, I will say to myself, "hey, get outside for awhile!" just like I would say it to my kids. And when I reach for that second piece of cake, I will lovingly ask myself if I'm really still hungry or just wanting to taste a little bit more, just like I do my kids - and if it's the latter, I promise myself that I can have it again in a day or two (and I even put it in the freezer so I can do just that).

It was a huge epiphany for me to realize that (a) I'm doing a pretty good job managing the beast of insecurity that threatens to take hold of my girls and (b) the one area where I can improve is to slay the beast within myself.

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