Monday, August 22, 2011


My daughter is greedy. How could she not be? After all, her mother is, too. Before having her I felt certain that my greediness was entirely a product of my upbringing. My mother and sister were both small. My mother tried to control what I ate, but my sister was constantly feeding me. I thought that push and pull had created food’s wanton hold on me, but since becoming a mother myself I know it’s not that simple. Fresh out of the womb, my daughter would nurse until she vomited. Whatever control switch they say babies have that tells them when they are full did not work with her. It was two weeks before I realized what was happening—that she was gorging herself on breast milk—and began latching her off before she had had too much. When she was a toddler she would literally eat until her belly button popped out. Everyday. Her belly button would pop out like the done-ness indicator on a Thanksgiving turkey, and we’d tell her she was done for the day. It was a joke at first, but it got less funny.

I felt awful. It was my fault she was that way. I dealt her the bad gene and I didn’t even know how to fix it. Isn’t that what mothers do? Fix things? The only thing I knew how to do was the same thing I had done for myself—surround her with healthy food. Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables served raw, whole grain bread, hormone-free dairy. No fast food. (We went to Sonic once on a road trip and she STILL talks about it.) Treats in moderation and usually baked in our kitchen. Despite all that, I worry that she will be overweight. Just like her mama.

My daughter is amazing. Surround that with stars and iridescent streamers. When I think of her I couldn’t be more proud. Just like her mama, she started reading before she was three and doesn’t remember what life was like before then. We have the same taste in books (Neil Gaiman, anyone?) and spend hours curled together reading. At age 6 she is an animal expert and self-proclaimed scientist. Often found digging up worms or chasing stray cats in her Punky Brewster-esque gear, she also loves telling jokes and playing pretend. If NOVA is on you may as well not talk to her.

My daughter is beautiful. Her face is lovely. Her spirit is kind and giving. Her weight is perfect. Not one bit over or under. She spins and dances and laughs, marching to the beat of her own drummer. So why am I concerned?

One day, after finishing off two (child-sized) bowls of cheerios with blueberries, she asked for a third. I resisted the temptation to do what my mother would have done. After all, what my mother did didn't work.

“That’s too much,” I said, “You’ve had plenty. Wait a little while and let it settle before you decide you’re still hungry.”

“I don’t mind getting fat,” she threw out matter-of-factly, as if that is what I had asked.

How did she know? How did she know that was what I was thinking? I've never said that to her. I've never told her she was anything but beautiful. A bit taken aback, I decided to pose a question. “Why? Wouldn’t you prefer to be just the way you are? You’re a perfect size.”

Without a beat she said, “Well, you’re beautiful AND you get to eat a lot. I want to be beautiful like you.”

That was when I realized we had been lying to her. Or at least I had. All her life we have taught her that people naturally come in different sizes and that every size is okay. The important thing, we said, was to eat healthy food so your body could be healthy and strong. But in that moment I knew I didn’t believe what I had been telling her. The awful truth was staring me in the face. I said those things to her because I didn't want her to judge ME. I didn't want her to look at ME and think of ME as anything less than beautiful. Being fat was absolutely fine for other people, but not for her. I do not want her to be fat. But since there is no simple way to tell your 6-year-old that you are a hypocrite, I said nothing.

My daughter is a child. She looks to her mother for answers, but her scientific mind is constantly drawing its own conclusions. I know she will learn from my baggage even more than she learns from my words. The most disquieting thing about parenthood is knowing that even though I can give her the tools to meet my definition of success, it will only be her definition that counts.

Children should come with a manual. Or else, their mothers should be wiser.

Monday, August 8, 2011

In Yo' Face, Dedication Gods!

They were definitely testing me, but I emerged victorious.

A few days ago someone stole my gym bag out of my car. Yes the car was unlocked, but before you step up on your soapbox you should know that my car is a 1999 Nissan Pathfinder with a cracked sideview mirror whose remote control door opener was destroyed years ago by baby number 1’s drool. Children. Rain. Fumbling for keys. You get the picture. I usually just leave it unlocked. Well, unbeknownst to me the hippies next door probably had a gathering (no, I don’t have anything against hippies, it’s just funnier when I call them that… but it *is* a commune…with chickens…just sayin’) with unsavory strangers in attendance because when I went out to my car the next morning my gym bag was gone. Not the (empty) purse on the backseat. Not the dollars we keep tucked in the visor for tolls. The gym bag with my sweaty, used items inside.

I have to admit that I freaked out a little bit when I found it gone. My running shoes were in there, and my little clip-on fan, and my sports bra and my awesome orange ankle socks that make me point and flex my foot a few times to admire the view before I slip on my shoes. Everything in there was replaceable, but what couldn’t be replaced was my ability to steal out and run at "lunch." I promise you that that little release has been enough to get me though a whole lot of B.S. My boss especially should thank me for it. But without my sweaty bag of items with no street value at all, I was grounded.

But, no biggie, I said to myself. I can handle this. So last night I dug out my old beat-up sneakers that give me blisters from the back of my closet and replaced most of the other lost items. I even used a *list* when I went to the store so I would be certain not to forget anything. So giddy was I at the prospect of finally getting to run in the morning that I almost couldn't fall asleep.

Enter the Dedication gods. A nasty bunch.

1. I left my set of house keys at my office. They are attached to my flashdrive and i left them in the computer where I had been feverishly working the last few days. I realized this when I first woke up at 4 a.m. No problem. I'll take the van and I'll have my keys with me to get back in the house at the end of the day.

2. Around 4:15, ready to head to the gym, I realized that I had forgotten to put earbuds on my shopping list. One of the remaining side effects of hurricane Katrina is we have very few 24 hour stores. No prob. Willing to drive to one.

3. I get down to the car only to realize I left my phone inside the house AND since I don't have my keys and my husband sleeps like the dead, I could not get back in to retrieve it.

4. Again. No problem. I drive to work, get my keys, drive back home and tear up the house looking for my phone only to realize... it was in my purse the whole time.

5. The 24hour walgreens could not find the key to the glass case with the earbuds.

6. I go to another walgreens, wait twenty minutes for them to open, buy the headphones and...

7. *sweet relief* made it to the gym. WITH a parking space.

Not Job, but as close as I ever want to be. I had a great run and an even better day, so again I say, "IN YO' FACE!"