self esteem (one step at a time)

by humanmama on April 18, 2012

One of the many challenges of having children is that, besides an iron will, a gentle hand, a strong sense of discipline, some sort of schedule, a dietary plan, and (preferably) an on-call nanny, you also need to possess some serious self esteem. Well, that’s not true, it’s not necessary to have the self esteem. But it definitely helps.

No one I know really felt all that great at the end of pregnancy. Even the moms who said “but I loved every minute of it,” when pressed, agree that the end is pretty rough. You’re fairly huge, often a lot bigger with more things that stick out than you ever have been before in your life. Things swell. Things change. If you’re me, you might eagerly state somewhere near the 8th month “Nope! No stretch marks yet!” only to rue the day you didn’t invest in StriVectin or Bio Oil or something. [It’s actually genetic, people, for the most part, but polyhydramnios doesn’t help at all.]

feeling big, trying to feel just...beautiful. And trying to teach that everyone is.

When the kids get older, it’s really helpful to have some good strong self esteem. One, for the kids. No one wants to be raised by a mom who can’t take a compliment, one who is constantly bemoaning her “skinny jeans” and how they don’t fit anymore. Girls and boys raised by someone always complaining about wishing to be skinnier are more likely to think women should be that way (thinner, younger, skinnier…), and I’m sure you don’t want that, for your daughters or your sons.

But there’s another reason to have good self esteem: there’s an age (2…3…4…) that kids begin saying not only adorable things, but things that may stick with you. And you need to have the ovaries to shrug that off. Like when the 5-year-old came up the other day, put her hands on my legs, and when I smiled down at her, said to me:

“Mom, you have really chubby legs.”

Oh, ahem, well… I said something like “Yep! But soon when I have this baby a lot of me will go back to normal.” However, I’ve been thinking about that comment: maybe I should have said something more worldly, like “there are all kinds of shapes and sizes of people in the world! Isn’t that great?!”

There are many, many amazing pieces of writing about fat and being fat, but one of my favorites comes from The Last Mom on Earth, Amanda, who writes:

I don’t want [my daughters] to see that, if they ask me a question about electricity or cars or acorns, or whatever, I’m a totally cool and smart authority… but if they mention FAT, I suddenly start whispering to them in disjointed sentences how they aren’t fat, but how they shouldn’t ever call anybody else fat because fat is a big, dark secret thing that everybody sees but nobody mentions because what a FUCKING INSULT TO HUMANITY IT IS TO BE A PERSON WHO WALKS AROUND WITH FAT ON THEIR BODIES! (Mom, am I fat?)

Ahem. And that’s what I do not want, to stutter and hem and haw when they talk about fat, like it’s THE F-WORD, instead of just having this delightful notion that everyone is different and that they don’t need to judge anyone by how their outsides look.

Yep, I’d like to have my kids think that bodies are beautiful, while still striving to be as healthy in mind and body as they can. So when I’m walking up the hill in our yard, and my brilliant child says “Mom, your bum is waaaay bigger than mine!” I can reply, “yep!” and keep on moving. Not have it stick in my mind. Enjoy the power in my stride, and keep on keepin’ on.

One step at a time.



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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jess April 18, 2012 at 5:55 pm

One day, 4-y-o Raina said t o me “Va-Va, I hope when I’m really old, I have a big butt like you!” Awwww :) (Nevermind that she followed that by saying …”but I hope my boobies are different.”) Can’t win them all ;)


aj April 18, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Ha, fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.


bea bea April 18, 2012 at 7:20 pm

we have a no negative body-talk policy and our kid is 6 months old. I might be overly sensitive but I think he’ll find all that in pop culture, so he won’t hear it at home! we’ll do our best!


aj April 18, 2012 at 7:31 pm

He’ll get plenty of bad ju-ju elsewhere! No need to begin at home :)


hollyweasel April 23, 2012 at 11:03 am

Great post, something we all need to be aware of.


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