I love when I get a chance to volunteer at Brooke’s school. As a working mama, it can be tough but I’ve always done my best to schedule in the time for field trips and special events. One of my favorite events at which to lend a hand is Field Day. I like it so much because the kids get to have fun, be outside, run around, let off steam, get competitive at times and I’m always so impressed with the work the staff does to organize the event.
I was assigned to the inflatables field which is among my favorite areas. And I was super excited to have Brooke’s class in my line for the first rotation. It was a great start to the day and I was having a blast watching the kids race each other.
After a couple turns, Brooke walked up to where I was watching as pairs would race through the obstacle course inflatable, making sure one pair of kiddos had gotten through far enough before unleashing the next. She was clearly upset. There were no tears yet but they appeared to be just below the surface.
“Sweetie, what’s wrong?”
“Mom, the other kids said you’re fat. They think you’re pregnant.”
Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting that. I instantly realized though that my response here was going to be important. In recent weeks, my sweet 8-year-old has started making more comments about her body – even calling herself fat. I had to establish a good foundation.
Fortunately, I have found the Healthy Habits Happy Moms Facebook group and joined their Balance 365 program. Through that program, among other things, I have started what they refer to as “Diet Deprogramming” in which you abandon the idea that your worth as a person has anything to do with the number on the scale or the waistband of your jeans. That it’s okay to be okay with your body and it’s also okay to want to make changes to it at the same time. That crash diets and excessive exercise are not sustainable but creating habits slowly, at your own pace and one at a time is how you make an everlasting change.
It’s also where I learned to change how I view the word “fat”. It’s no longer an insult to me. I do not equate that word with “bad”, “undesirable”, “failure” – all words that were synonymous to fat when I applied them to the person I saw in the mirror. The word “fat” is an adjective – the same as “tall”, “smart” or “yellow”.
So when I heard that a group of 8-year-olds had decided to tell my sweet Brooke that I was fat, I wasn’t hurt. I felt horrible for Brooke because I could tell she didn’t like the idea of anyone talking about her momma that way. I’ve had comments directed at me before that have completely crushed my spirit. But in this instance, I was almost thankful. Crazy, right?
I was thankful because it gave me an opportunity to approach this issue head-on with Brooke right then and there.
“Well, honey, I am fat. My body is bigger. But that doesn’t change who I am. I’m still a good person. It’s okay, sweetie. Fat isn’t a bad word. It doesn’t bother me so don’t let it bother you”
Honestly and unfortunately, I don’t remember how the conversation ended. I was still doing my best to monitor the kids on the inflatables and make sure no one collided or cut in line. But I remember giving her a hug and telling her one more time “It’s okay, go have fun”. And she did and so did I. The day went on and that’s was it.
The best part of that situation was being proud of the response I showed to my daughter in that situation. The second best part was knowing that I really believe it.