One of the things we spoke about (during one of our many wonderful conversations this summer) was if there was any fear I’d pass along my disordered past to my daughter.
I’ll be honest; this is something that weighed on me long before I ever got a positive on a pee stick … or found out we were having a girl.
And while I can’t make any certain statements about the future, what I do know is this: though I realize I might always have some food issues — I still sometimes emotionally eat; sometimes mindlessly munch; sometimes have to stop myself from using exercise to “undo” a heavy eating weekend; sometimes have to remind myself that it’s OK to eat formerly “off-limits” foods without guilt — I am going to do my damndest not to actively pass on my insecurities to her.
So here’s the million dollar question … HOW?
Well, for starters, I don’t want her to see me staring/poking/prodding/preening in front of the mirror. (I sometimes catch myself doing this now — especially being pregnant, it’s all about preening and admiring my growing belly — as evidenced by my BUMP page–updated Friday!!)
I don’t want her to hear any “fat-talk,” period –by me or anyone. (I will need to remember this post-baby because, well, I will inevitably have some baby weight to lose that isn’t lost immediately post-partum!)
I want to lead by example — continuing to exercise and providing healthy, balanced meals for my family to enjoy together. (Confession: I need to cut back on my own candy consumption in order to be a good role model; this is something I need to work on. Moderation! Candy every day is not the best example!)
I want her to see Mommy enjoying an ice cream cone with her and Daddy and Rocco, without commentary about how caloric/fattening/sugary it is. (This I have been really good about the past two years–no commentary when I eat!)
I don’t want her to see me counting/journaling/etc. (It doesn’t mean I won’t do it … I still plan to journal, but I’ve gotten far more discrete about it and sometimes wait til the end of the day now to tally up my day.)
I want her to always feel LOVED, special, confident, smart, and beautiful … as my parents always made me feel, no matter what I looked like. (Even when I struggled to find clothes that fit my curvy body from my pre-teen years and on, my mom always helped me find things that flattered my figure and made me feel confident and beautiful.)
Of course, I realize even if I am successful at doing all these things, I can’t protect her in a bubble; society will inevitably influence her to some extent — and that influence can be a great life-lesson, depending on how we approach it. I’m hoping maintaining an honest dialogue with her (as my mom did with me) will be the way to go as she grows up.
And, as I noted to Kate, while I don’t plan to just ever bring it up out of the blue, there could come a time down the road where it becomes relevant for me to share my disordered past–mostly in the vein of overcoming it and how I did it; what I learned through my experiences. I also would want her to know that the prospect of her (or any future children) was really what got me to a place where I knew I was ready to put aside my own selfish issues to become a mom.
Ultimately, I don’t think the past needs to be prologue to the future. It doesn’t mean it won’t influence my future (how could it not?!) but if anything, I hope it’d provide a jumping off point for the future.
I also don’t think it has to mean that history will repeat itself — for me or my future daughter. And I think being hyper-vigilant and so ridiculously aware of my own short-comings and issues will be helpful so I don’t go down that ugly path ever again … and naturally I hope she never finds that path, herself.
But if she does, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I have to have faith that she won’t; I know a lot of my habits stemmed from anxiety related to perfectionism. And if she does, hopefully we will be able to nip that in the bud if we see a Type A personality manifesting itself in her — or at least try! At the very least, I’ll be armed with the tools I’ve learned along the way.
What’s most important to me is that she loves herself and is proud of who she is, every day, regardless of the size of her jeans (though I do hope she inherits her mama’s ample booty ;))
How about you? If you have children or have thought about having children, will you share your journey with them? What lessons would you like them to learn?