Monday, March 29, 2010
Fat is a family affair
Bryn, Caelyn, cousin Emily
I have two beautiful daughters. Caelyn, my oldest, is nine years old. Bryn will be seven on April 12th. They are both intelligent, happy children. Being a mother is probably the single-most wonderful thing in my life. I really don’t want to mess it up!
Bryn is a normal eater 100%. She is a little bitty thing. She eats when she is hungry and stops when she is full. She loves sweets and fattening foods, but she won’t finish them.
Caelyn is like me. Or rather she is like I was at age nine. She is bigger than most of her classmates. She is the tallest girl in her class. She isn’t fat, but she has a little tummy and she is starting to develop a bit. She also loves food. A few months ago she got in trouble for stealing 13 candy bars from the vending machine stock at my office. When I was her age, I used to steal change from my dad’s dresser and go to the neighborhood store and buy candy.
I’ve always tried to encourage my kids to eat well and exercise. They both play sports and are vegetarians. I have talked to them about making sure they are eating because they are hungry. I’ve also told them that only they can decide what to eat. Oftentimes if they will ask for a sweet, I will remind them of something they will be having later and encourage them to decide what they want. For example, if we are going to a birthday party where there will be cake and they want to have a cookie or something earlier in the day, I tell them to choose one or the other. I think that when kids get to make those choices themselves, it teaches them to make good choices when they are adults. I also model regular exercise habits and prepare balanced meals. We seldom eat fast food and their lunches at school are brought from home. We always have lots of fruits and vegetables at home and my girls know they can have them whenever they want. They don’t need to ask for a healthy snack.
I can’t help projecting my own issues on Caelyn. I never say anything about her shape, but I think about it every time I look at her. I don’t want her to become self-conscious or to head down the diet path that I went down. After all, I truly believe that diets are responsible for distorting my relationship with food so much that I now don’t even know what is normal eating and what is abnormal eating. It kills me that I’ve passed on my problem to her.
Even as I write this posting, I wonder if I’ll put it up. I’m truly ashamed of myself for harming my daughter in this way. If I knew specifically what it was that I’ve done, I’d stop, but I don’t. Maybe it is just the result of having a compulsive eater for a mother. If so, I hope that she will see my recovery as a model to follow. My own mother is overweight and has been all of my life. She also tried hard to serve healthful meals in our home. She made pretty much everything from scratch when I was growing up. We seldom had soda or fast food. She even baked homemade French fries in the oven to go with our homemade hamburgers (served on slices of bread instead of buns). We always had salads and another vegetable with dinner. We also ate dinner together at the dinner table every night.
When I was pregnant, I really wanted to have daughters – just like the home I grew up in. I feel so blessed to have such wonderful children. I want them to have peaceful, happy lives. I don’t want either of them to go down this road that I’ve taken.