Sunday, July 7, 2013

Look at Those Cheeks!!

Everyone, or at least 90% of everyone, who meets Molly comments on her amazing cheeks. She's a very happy girl, and she has very notable cheeks.
And now it's documented, for her to know forever.

Weighing on My Mind

My daughter is beautiful.

Sometimes I look at her and can't believe what a lovely girl she is. But I try not to tell her too often, cause I don't want her to get a complex. And I don't want it to define her. I do not want her to think someday that if she's not beautiful, it doesn't matter what else she is.

I want her to know that she's also funny, and silly, and smart, and strong, and that she can do anything she wants in this world.

And that she has a lot to offer, no matter what she looks like.

Still, I want her to feel good about her body, and to be comfortable in it. I'd like her always to love standing in front of a full-length mirror in a swimming suit watching herself make silly poses and pull strange faces.
 Okay, I'm not sure she has to love it, but I can tell you that this is an activity in which I would never engage. There would be a lot of scrutiny involved, but it wouldn't be a positive experience if I did something similar.

These days, I spend a substantial amount of time exercising. I've had two babies lately, and there's some weight I need to stop carrying around. Plus, I have so much more energy when I'm in good shape. And I want to set a good example for my kids. Of necessity, the kids are around when I'm doing yoga, returning from a run or doing a weight training workout. And they like to join in.

I'm very careful how I talk about it in front of them. I try really hard never to mention size or weight loss. I talk about getting stronger muscles, which Virginia genuinely needs to do, and about feeling good. I do weigh myself every day, and the kids know this too (they take turns playing on the scale after me). And it seems they've put some things together. Because a few weeks ago, Virginia decided she was going to do yoga on the scale.

Talk about watching the pounds melt off! Funny, but a little worrying.

I worried even more when, a few days later, she told me she was going to exersize and get skinny, really really skinny. And then she would be thin. I told her she already is thin (She is! This child has no hips.), but she claimed to be fat. I was horrified! She didn't get that from me, and I had a hard time not reacting strongly to it. And I had one of those moments where you realize that you can't protect your children from the messages they'll hear out there in the world.

She discovered princesses, even though we never really told her about them.

We didn't really discourage it (what would be the point?), but we didn't encourage either. And yet, she loves princess stories of all kinds. And I'm okay with that theoretically. I do wonder what she'll think about how she should look, though?

Does a princess need to be blonde?

And dress a certain way? In a certain color? Must she have curly hair to be beautiful?

Will she think that her most important job in life is to find, catch and marry a "prince," about whom she knows almost nothing, and spend the rest of her life waiting on him?

I have no problem with most of these activities, but I want there to be other appealing alternatives as well. Because if the princess story line doesn't work out, I think there are a lot of ways she can still enjoy her life just as much, maybe more.

How do I help her enjoy looking good, without obsessing over her looks? How do I exercise to lose weight without having her worry about her weight? How can she enjoy all the fun things about being a little girl, but still know that there are many versions of every fairy tale, and not every happy ending looks the same?

How do I help her to live in the world, with all its influences, and still be herself?!

For now, I think the answer is that I can't. I can be a good example as much as possible. I can tell her stories about women doing all sorts of things, and only some of them are princesses. I can value her for her looks, but also (and probably more) for her other qualities. And, most of all, I can talk to her and listen to her.

Hopefully then, when the day inevitably comes that when she feels ugly or stupid or that she's not any of the things she'd like to be in life, she and I can talk about it. And I can support her until she's happy and comfortable with herself again.