I never struggled with body image issues as a little girl. It wasn’t until I was a woman that those ugly things started popping up in my head. Yesterday, my son experienced a tiny meltdown about his weight thanks to his Bio. He’s seven years old.
A typical trip to the Pediatrician led to a Bio-induced conversation about the Monkey’s weight. Where was he? Is he too heavy? Should he diet? I sat there in shock watching the look on Monkey’s face drop from elation to sheer sadness. I listened as the Bio and the Pediatrician discussed this very sensitive matter in front of a very sensitive little boy with a giant heart. Pushing tears back, I very plainly said to my Monkey, “Don’t worry honey, you’re fine just the way you are”.
Is that just Mama sticking her head in the sand? No, it really is not. Monkey is ridiculously active. He swims daily. Runs with me when we can. Rides his bike all over the place. Plays street hockey with me and the Boyfriend. We eat like crazy healthy people, only making exceptions once-in-awhile for food adventures. My entire goal with food and exercise was to avoid the issues his Bio has with his own body and food. He’s never been happy with who he is physically, and I’ve known him for over twenty years now. My greatest fear as a co-parent with this man-child was that he would eventually put the same stressors on Monkey, and sadly it has begun.
After the doctor, my Mom and I took Monkey to lunch. He was wary of eating anything at Fuddruckers, a wicked family favorite whenever we travel to my hometown. He had announced he wanted a cheeseburger with apples and then back-peddled to a chicken sandwich and then after I looked him in the eyes and told him this was a food adventure restaurant, he settled on food items that made him happy. Ear-to-ear grin. I love that kid. Serious.
On the drive home, he asked questions. The sound of the words resonated in my heart and head.
“Why doesn’t my Dad like how I look?”
“How come he says such not nice things about me?”
In the short drive home from my parents house it was clear to me that I had so much more work to do. Battling the Mean Boys at school and now having to defend my Monkey against the man who helped bring him into this world. The Boyfriend and I work daily to ensure that Monkey has a positive sense of self, mixed in with a good dose of humility and integrity. And as we chatted about his feelings, I had flashback to being 105lbs. because I feared him seeing me as imperfect. I ran 6 miles a day, smoked two packs a day and drank more coffee than anyone should consume – all while barely consuming a ounce of food. Tears streamed down my face as we talked about being confident in yourself no matter what anyone else says, and that it’s okay to tell his Bio how this attitude makes him feel. I punish myself by thinking of how I did this to my own flesh and blood. I sentenced this poor little Monkey to a life with a man who finds nothing satisfying. While I know there are those who will disagree with me and maybe I’m wrong, but it’s really hard to swallow today.
My Monkey is not overweight. He is not obese. He is not unhealthy. I will do everything I can to make sure he knows that he is amazing and loved.
My heart is breaking today. Hug your kiddos.