The baby weight
Today Matt brought home chocolate donuts from the coffee shop. He set the paper bag on our patio table and the kids dug into it. We ate what was left over. Our 8mo girl crawled over to me and pulled up on my leg. I picked her up, broke off a piece of my donut and fed it to her. Then, when her blue eyes lifted for another bite, I wondered if I had made a mistake.
I never worried about our boys’ size. In fact, when our pediatrician mused, “I wish I had some of their height!” I beamed. Here I was raising big, strong boys, who could play football, lift furniture and fight back if a jock shoved them in a locker (The Breakfast Club traumatized me).
So I was surprised that I cared when my 8mo measured in the 95th percentile for both height and weight. Because she is just so perfect. She’s got shockingly dark hair, which is gradually lightening, that’s caused more than one stranger to ask where I adopted from (my uterus?). And already she knows how to charm. She sucks you in with her smile, and then growls at you, her party trick. Every time I look at her, I feel an unexpected joy.
I will think she’s perfect no matter what shape she comes in because she is. She is part of me, the part I love the most. It is more important to me that she be kind than thin, thoughtful than pretty. But I also know what it’s like to be a woman in our society.
I hope she will grow strong enough not to care what others think of her, but the truth is I’m not immune to what others think of me. I was skinny in high school, but gained 15 pounds in college from eating too much pizza after all-you-can drink happy hours (as if it didn’t matter if you ate the entire pie as long as you dabbed the oil off with napkins). It hadn’t occurred to me that I gained 15 pounds until one night, in a bar, a guy called me fat.
I’ve always felt I just inhabited this body, like it was where I lived, not who I was. But in that moment, I realized it took time for a person to know you, and your exterior gave others a snap judgement of who you were.
Now I feel this immense responsibility to teach my 8mo how to eat right, especially since there is so much stacked against her.
My mom used to make us take bagged lunches to school. At the time, I thought she did it purposely to make me an outcast (I fantasized I was some sort of Snow White, and she was — gasp — forcing an apple on me, while my peers ate tater tots; I can’t wait for the teen years) but now I wonder, how do you teach your kids to make healthy choices without making it personal?
My friend Catharine shares my concerns. She has twin 4yo boys and a 2yo girl who is off the charts in size. When Catharine hears her daughter referred to as “a big girl,” she cringes.
Catharine agrees her daughter is adorable. She has brown curls and brown eyes, with a certain sweetness and defiance about her (some days, she’ll just look at me and say, “No,” as if daring me to test her. Which I don’t.).
But Catharine is tall, the type of tall I would like to be, and so she knows what it’s like to be defined by a physical attribute. “When you’re outside the norm — when you don’t feel you’re fitting into the image — you feel uncomfortable,” she says. Especially when the adjectives used — “big, strong” — are typically reserved for the opposite gender.
My pediatrician has always said the more you make food an issue, the more of an issue it will be for your child. Your job is to provide healthy food choices; it’s their job to decide how much of it to eat. And it’s not like I’m feeding her potato chips and Pepsi out of a bottle. Well, at least not on a regular basis.
In fact, I’ve been making my own baby food, if you can call it that. Really, what I do is give her bites of whatever our boys are eating. I mash up a piece of their banana; I slice up their pear. It’s much cheaper than buying baby food at $1 and throwing half of it out, the jar scrapped in a land fill. She likes red pepper, watermelon, grapes, cheese, and paper.
Catharine and I both know intellectually we are being ridiculous. Neither of us like to think we buy into the stereotypes. But sometimes it’s hard to curb your emotions. Then, a tiny voice in our head says, “She’s just a baby,” and we squeeze their chubby thighs with delight.
No related posts.
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.