Dear mom I saw at the grocery store:
I saw you there in the cold section, I was picking up yogurt for my family and you were there with your three kids – 2 in the cart and one walking beside you. Your little ones were what people affectionately call chubby, but I want you to know that cute chubbiness is going to change and what happens from there will shape your children’s lives. Your little girl, walking beside the cart, I’m guessing she was 7 or 8 and I’m sure everyone still teases her about her “baby fat” but those eating habits she has right now, they’re only going to get worse.
You see, I was that little girl the one with the baby fat. But once you hit Jr. High, no one calls it baby fat anymore. But then it’s just fat and people will still comment on it. There will be that boy who somehow gets a hold of her yearbook and writes in it cruelly, “save the whales, harpoon the fat chicks.” And there will be that girl who points and tells her that fat girls shouldn’t wear mini skirts. There will be the boy she has a crush on, the one who never looks her way and she’ll go home sad and only get sadder. And bigger.
Mom, know now that you are the one capable of changing her eating habits, of teaching her about healthy choices, fruits and vegetable and no, that doesn’t include french fries. Know that every time you offer her a candy bar or an ice cream cone when she’s sad, that only teaches her to continue to reach for those when she needs some comfort. Know that if you don’t fix it, she will have to, someday when she’s ready, if she’s ready, but that the burden of those extra pounds will cause her health problems and emotional damage that she’ll live with forever.
Mom, I know you love those kids, I could see it on your face, but I glanced in your grocery cart and honestly I don’t mean to judge, but please be careful with those choices for your babies. I know they’re kids, I know they should be able to eat fun “kid food” chips and cookies and every sugary thing in between. But they’re kids and they’ll love fruit if you give it to them, it’s sweet and natural and yes, it can be more expensive, but there is always some fruit in season or there’s frozen fruit. There are ways to do it. And you can do it!
Your window of opportunity is small, eventually this blame will leave you and fall to her. It will be her choices, those things she puts in her mouth. But right now, while she’s still little, you can help shape her view of food and her body and her health. Right now, you still have time…
That’s what I want to tell them, every time I see moms with “chubby” kids. It hurts me. I ache for those children because I know, first hand, how horribly cruel kids can be and it only gets worse as you grow up. I hope that letter doesn’t make it sound like I blame my own mom because I most certainly do not. Things were different when I was growing up, no one knew much about nutrition in the way that we all know now. Convenience was king and still is to some degree, but we’re having a bit of a renaissance where people are getting back to growing their own food and infusing their daily food intake with more whole foods, grains, veggies and the like. We know more now. And for right now while we prepare our kids food, it is our responsibility to teach them about healthy eating. Of course that doesn’t take into consideration the picky eaters…but that is for another blog.
So do y’all ever pass someone you don’t know and want to say something to them – whether good or bad? I mean sometimes I see that frazzled mom at the store and I just want to go up to her and tell her she’s doing a great job. What do you think about the epidemic facing our kids today with the unhealthy eating and sedentary lifestyles?
You’ve probably heard of the Myers-Brigg personality assessment. If you’re a writer, I know you have. In any case there are 16 types and you can take a test, there are a slew of online ones and they tell you about your personality type. It’s just components, certainly not all inclusive. Now I say as a writer I know you’ve heard about it because us writers are pros when it comes to personality tests and we’re on a first-name basis with all our baggage. For example, I know I’m a total control-freak (also very common among writers, well and moms), I’m reluctant to try new things because I’m not sure I’ll be able to do them right (AKA perfectionist), I have serious body-image issues, and I’m bossy as hell (is that the same thing as being a control freak?)
One of the other things I know about myself, and to bring us back to the subject matter and the Myers-Brigg assessment is that I am an introvert. Now I don’t know if there are levels of introverts, but if there are, I’d think I was a Class 4 (on a scale from 1-5), nearly as introverted as one can get. This doesn’t mean I can’t function socially, but I do need my space. Which brings us to the problem with being an introverted mom. Okay so there’s probably not just one problem, but there is a significant one.
There are days when I wake up and though I might not recognize it immediately, it is a day when I need to be alone. Not simply because I need to recharge, but because if I’m around other people I tend to get snippy. I’m not in the mood to talk. At all. I just want to be inside my head and have quiet. These are the days when I’m the worst sort of mom. Most of the time I won’t even notice it until mid-afternoon and I realize I’ve been grumpy with my girls all day. I’ll try to stop and reassess the situation, think of ways I can either (a) be more patient or (b) occupy them without having to engage too much. It’s not that I want to ignore them, but as an introvert, I crave, I need, alone, quiet time in order to function properly. And sleeping doesn’t count. I need awake time to be quiet and alone.
It’s not so much that I don’t like people (though there are days…) it really just has to do with my energy level. The stuff I need to be the best me, that stuff only gets refilled during those alone moments. They’re few and far between these days. And this week, which marks the third year we’ve had our girls, I’m so thankful for my children and the family we’ve become. But I also believing knowing this about myself and taking action to make sure they aren’t the butt of my grumps, makes me a better mom.
So how about you? Do you know where you are on the spectrum? Do you think your personality brings challenges to your parenting or to any of your other relationships?
The Norwegian had to work on Valentine’s Day (we celebrated in the evening). It gave me a wonderful opportunity to spend the day with my other best guy, my father. We went out for lunch and then we did our favorite thing — we took a long walk — about three miles in all — around a lake not far from his place.
My dad and I have always been close and we enjoy walking together. When he and my stepmom lived in North Carolina (before she passed away), he and I would make time to hike on the Appalachian Trail each time I visited. Now, he’s back in Florida and closer to us. We don’t have the gorgeous wooded trails down here like we did up there (at least not in our area), but we do have each other’s company. However, now that we’re living in the same town again, we talk on the phone nearly every day, but we don’t walk together as much as we should. Isn’t that crazy? He’s busy, and sometimes I get so wrapped up in my deadlines and other demands that I lose sight of what’s truly important.
After our Valentine’s Day together, I spent some time reflecting on how lucky I am to have this time with my dad — time to walk and share our thoughts on the large and small things that make up our lives. He has such a great outlook and he’s fun to be around. Our walks are filled with great conversation and laughter and just the right amount of companionable silence. I’ve made a Valentine’s Day vow to make sure we do this regularly. I guess it simply took a walk with my father to remind me of what’s really important.
What’s important to you? I’ll give a $5 Amazon gift card to one person who comments.
P.S. The two landscape pictures are from our walk around the lake.
Does your family have any silly nicknames for one another? Those affectionate labels can be pretty ridiculous, especially when outsiders have no idea where they came from.
Our family seems to love them. When Girlchild was an infant, she had a little cloth ball in her crib, and when it moved it made a darling “bink-bonk” chiming sound. She was energetic, and sometimes His Highness and I would smile from the other room at the melodies she’d create with her wriggling. “There she goes, binky-bonkying around,” he’d say.
And suddenly, she was Binky Bonk. Then just Binky. We called her Binky almost exclusively for years.
Guess when we stopped? Yep. The day she got old enough to bring home buddies to play. That afternoon, she informed me solemnly that Binky was fine when it was just us, but expressly forbidden in front of outsiders. (And, hey, isn’t she going to appreciate my announcing it here? )
The other day, out of nowhere, I suddenly remembered a name my mom used to call my sister and me. Ooofty-goof. Where did the term come from? I have no idea, but it made me smile to remember hearing it in her teasing voice.
My dad called me Bourney, which was a babyism for Mavourneen, which was taken from the old Irish song, Kathleen Mavourneen. I have notes I wrote to him, saved from first grade, signed BBB. In that magical way nicknames have, Bourney had become Bourney Baby Bird.
I loved it, but I’m pretty sure I never mentioned that to my school buddies.
How about you? Does your family do this? Do you have any memories of those special names, spoken in loving, laughing voices that perhaps are long gone…except in your heart?
I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen poster today, so I hope you’ll join the chat!
One of my most-enjoyed morning rituals is sending good wishes to my Facebook friends who are having a birthday today. Some I know well, in Real Life. Others I have met only online, but have come to cherish as friends. But many are still essentially just strangers who share my interest in reading and writing.
When I was younger, I might not have reached out to that last group at all. Whether it was a birthday or a wedding or a death in their family, I felt oddly silly offering my good thoughts to people who might look at my message and think, “HUH? Who is she? Why do I care what this stranger thinks?”
But all that changed the first time I had a real, up-close tragedy in my own life. My sister’s husband died, and our whole family was pole-axed with grief…for him, and for her.
A flood of affection and good wishes poured in, and you know what? Never once did I look at a card or a bouquet and think, “HUH? Who is that? Why do I care what this stranger thinks?”
Far from it. I was deeply grateful for the generous impulse that had led that person to reach out and try to comfort us. I was moved by the intense, new awareness that, when it came to heartbreak, we were all the same. The person behind the card might not have known my brother-in-law, or even my sister, but they knew grief. And they wanted to help.
So now I don’t think twice. I just extend my wishes for happiness, for health, for an easing of pain, for a new home, a new baby, a new job…whatever is needed. Because while I don’t know that person very well, I do know we’re all essentially just human beings trying to find joy in lives that can sometimes be very tough. And I want to help.
How about you? Do you feel silly reaching out to people you don’t know very well, especially now that the internet has made the world so much smaller? Do you enjoy getting birthday or get-well wishes from Facebook friends who aren’t necessarily Real Life friends?
I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen poster today, so I hope you’ll take a minute to share your thoughts.