A wise friend once told me “The story of your weight is boring to everyone but you.”
This morning my almost 6-year-old son watched as I tried to manipulate my digital scale to do what I want.
“Can I get on?” he asked.
“Yes, but just a minute,” I said grumpily, as I tilted a little to the left, then to the right.
“I want it to go down,” I muttered.
“Why?” he asked innocently.
This hit me hard. I let him witness my insanity. He didn’t understand it, but I did.
I’ve tried really hard not to talk about my constant desire to lose weight around my boys. The parenting slip-up this morning reminded me of all the time I’ve spent cajoling a scale.
It started when I was 13.
In college, I would let a two-pound gain ruin my day—I was 105. Now at 46 and having had babies, the numbers are higher and I’m playing the same soul-sucking game.
I realize this obsession doesn’t make me special. So many women are in the battle.
Recently, a wise friend told me, “Girl, I think the food/fat issue is a nasty ass bitch that never goes away. You just have to continue to tell her to walk on every time she shows up.”
I love this.
Another friend said, “The story of your weight is boring to everyone but you.”
It’s true. My weight isn’t why I have my friends and family.
I have a pretty great life. I adore my husband and three kids, like my job, my parents are living, and I have fantastic friends. Dig deep and I’ve survived divorce, crippling migraines, and the thing that makes the rest look easy, the life-threatening illness of one of my kids.
Yet, I’m still hyper-focused on my weight. And I know I’m not the only one. What woman doesn’t get sucked into this never-ending hamster wheel? Recently I shared with a coworker that I knew someone writing a memoir about her eating disorder. She told me that when she was a teaching assistant in graduate school, everyone wrote about their eating disorders. We laughed but really, what is funny about college-age women and 50-year-old women struggling with food and self-love?
Not a thing.
I watch my boys and they are so innocent and free. They run around. They love their reflections. They are beautiful.
I’ve often thought that one of the reasons I was meant to be a mom to boys is that I wouldn’t mess them up when it comes to their weight.
This morning when I let some light shine on my insecurities in front of my son, I remembered that boys aren’t immune to the self-destructiveness of dieting and image either. In high school, I was an ally to boys with similar bad habits. One popular guy advised me to eat salad all day so you could save your calories for beer on the weekend. That’s what he did, although he did pass out in football practice. The wrestlers making weight were also good for tips. I didn’t succumb to spitting, but tried other starvation tips.
One great thing about being a mom to my boys is that they teach me too. They love my body, jiggly parts and all. They often tell me I’m pretty. The other time I slipped up and mentioned weight around them, I said something about getting rid of my belly. With big innocent eyes and sweet faces, they asked, “Why?”
I’m proud that at 40, I carried twin babies. My body made those sweet little boys.
So, I’m going to try, for them and myself. And tell my food issues to walk on by.
Julia Mace is the mom to 6-year-old twin boys and a 24-year-old stepson. She blogs at I Love Kids Books. She’s been published in Scary Mommy Club Mid.