We are off to Pump it Up with friends... but....
I want to talk to you today about Children and their "body image". You see, we all know that children hurt one another's feelings - "Your head is big. Your legs are so skinny. Your hair is too short. You are fat. Why are you so much taller than everyone, that's not normal!" They notice differences.
This is what my son said to me a couple days ago after a visit to the doctors. "Mom, I hope the thyroid medicine works." I said, "we are going to see if it is the thyroid honey". And he said, "I don't want to be the fat kid mom". Man it broke my heart.
Well, when I was young, I was average build, not skinny, not fat. But because I was not tall and thin like my sister, mother called me fat. I call her Mother because Mom is an endearing term, and there is nothing endearing about her, or at least there wasn't as a child. I'm not sure now, as I have had no relationship with her for decades really.
For decades I was bulimic and had such a bad self-image. I thought I was HUGE in high school. Um I weighed 120 lbs. I was muscular, but not HUGE. But I thought I was because I was constantly told I was. I remember in 7th grade, when the mom was measuring for my first cheer leading outfit, she said "I have never seen such a small girl with such broad shoulders". THANKS LADY! Mother was all upset that I was going to be in my sister's wedding because I wore a size 8-10 and that was FAT! She felt it would be embarrassing. Of course, she didn't say it to me, but my sister told me. My sister called me FAT all the time. Sure she apologized when we were in our early 40's because her daughter is shaped like me, and p.s. she is a beautiful girl and not fat. She realized her daughter was bigger than me in school and not fat. Imagine that? But by then, the damage was done. Sure I forgave her, but you know what I mean. Meanwhile the abuse from mother on the issue was far more detailed, but I'll pass on boring you with those details. Bottom line if your mother tells you that you are fat and ugly...
And now, here are a few pictures from HS/College.
Senior Year Choir Pic (I'm the blonde in the middle on the bottom).
10 year HS reunion
With my bestie Domenica circa 1987
When Christopher was born, he was small (early, not Preemie really, but three weeks early). He only weighed 6.15 and was 20 inches long. He had a big head, and we knew he'd grow into it. He's always been much taller than his peers. He was on a ton of steroids because of his allergies, asthma, etc... and I thought that is why he became chubby at age three. But - a year later, because of a lump the dentist saw in an Xray, we found out he was born with half a thyroid.
Yep. He had a lump in his parotid gland. The first scan showed it needed to be further viewed, so we scheduled an MRI to coincide with tonsil surgery. The lump ended up being nothing more than his body fighting whatever it was (the parotid is associated with the immune system). Anyway - after his tonsillectomy and MRI, the surgeon said "why didn't you tell me he'd had half of his thyroid removed?" We both said "because he hasn't". She said it looked like it was surgically cut down the middle. We talked about what we should do. She said to wait because some people's bodies function normally with half a thyroid.
Fast forward to this past Monday. When we went to the docs, there was a large spike in his weight. Figuring in that this past six months is the first time that we have not done sports, and that we could be better at doing daily PE in our little school, there is no way he ate enough to gain 20 lbs since December. So just like the ENT said five years ago, we are off to get Thyroid testing around age ten. In some ways, I am heartbroken because anything unknown is scary in a way. But I know God will lead us to the best doctor and the best diet and get him well.
But what is heartbreaking is that Christopher, who was bullied in our neighborhood and by kids at school, he has always known he was bigger than them. I acknowledged he was heavier, but his foot is three sizes larger too and he's at least 6 inches taller than many of his peers. But - it is hard for him when he sees the much smaller children to not just see it in terms of weightiness.
I also never realized that my words and actions would affect him. I should have picked up on it sooner. AND I should have actually gotten thinner and been a better example. DANGIT!
Anyway - I realize that I am not kind to myself because I am so heavy AND I don't want to be THAT person anymore. I'm working on my weight, but it is a slow thing at almost 50. Trust me!
Here are a couple of sites where you can read about Body Image and your children. Please take some time to read them. You being critical of yourself not only affects your daughters, it affects your sons. And it affects YOU! Be kind to yourself.
- B-Inspired Mama - body image
- WebMd - Mothers Help Kids Body Image
- Moms in Vaud - Body Image
- Triad Moms - Body Image and your Child
As a Catholic Mom, a Christian, we are called to honor God by raising Godly children. We are called to instill our values in them and raise our children to be the best, most virtuous person they can be. I will not allow negative body image to stop my child from reaching his potential as a great young man!
Anywhoooooo - the way I see it, we are called to be tolerant, compassionate, etc., we should extend our compassion and tolerance to people who look differently than we do - whether it is weight, hair, scarring, a disability, whatever - just be nice.
Look how beautiful my boy is:
I hope you found this blog post useful and that you will take it to heart.
Happy 2nd Friday in Lent!
Love and hugs,