What a little beauty...so sweet posing with our first spring daffodil blooms.
But the truth is, she wasn't speaking about herself in a way that seemed self defeating or self conscious about the way she looked. She was just stating an observation she had just made...quite proudly I might add. Mommy is indeed chubby and has a fat belly! But I'm the one who, with the best of intentions, told her she wasn't fat, but beautiful. As if being on the chubby side isn't beautiful. Healthy? No. But is she beautiful despite being chubby? A thousand times YES!!! And the child isn't dumb. She knows she's chubby, or she wouldn't have said it. But how she knows this is what's bugging me. I, nor my husband has ever told her she was chubby or fat. We just brag to her about how beautiful she is and how much we love her! But nonetheless, she made the astute observation and compared her round belly to mommy's round belly...calling it fat. What I'm afraid of, is that she's heard me, in moments of frustration and self-loathing call myself fat. "Look at this big fat belly of mine...isn't it gross?" Maybe I have said something like that around her, or to her. So, yes, it would be me that is responsible for her recognition that a big, round tummy = fat. And now she equates her round tummy with being "fat." UGH! What have I done?
Sweet smile...sweeter face.
And the truth is, my child is overweight. I've written about my worries concerning her weight before and the situation has only gotten worse. She is two months shy of turning 4 and she is 75 pounds! Her pediatrician told me that a normal weight for a four year old is 40 lbs. So my child is 35 lbs overweight?! Well, she's also VERY tall, so I would be satisfied if she were more like 50 pounds. But 75 is inexcusable! I feel like I should be one of those shameful parents on one of the Dr. Phil shows that highlight childhood obesity and the causes...which is ALWAYS the parents. I can remember sitting in such judgment (before I had my own child) watching those shows, scoffing at the grandmother who loaded her 4 year old's plate with link sausages and pancakes while the child sat on the carpet in front of the TV and ate a bigger breakfast than a lumberjack would eat! I would think, "What idiots! They can't understand why their kid is fat and the video clip just showed them making a mixing bowl full of Captain Crunch for them for breakfast? Sheesh!" But if I were being completely honest, I would have to say my behaviors and how I've chosen to feed my child and manage her activity level is nothing short of pitiful. She watches more TV than she actually plays. Not that she doesn't just beg me to play with her, daily (I usually turn her down and shoo her off to watch her shows...I could just cry admitting that). She doesn't eat a lot of junk food or sweets, but the portions I dole out to her are on the adult size for sure. And she does like the sweets, so to compensate for not having sweet snacks in the house, I give her Kool-Aid and chocolate milk. But the constant apple juice was what I believe created this longing for sweets. She wouldn't turn down ANYTHING that even resembled candy...it could be covered with dirt and dog hair and she'd still eat it I believe. And she hates veggies. She is truly a picky eater, which is also a problem. Too many chicken nuggets and french fries have dulled her palette to the point where anything remotely interesting tasting or interesting looking is considered "yucky" by her standards. If it's not that light brown color that all junk food (nuggets, fries, waffles, pancakes, corn dogs, chips, tater tots, burgers, etc) is, then she's not interested in it. Well, except for fruit...but that's sweet, so that's a given.
Riding the carousel at a birthday party. She loves to have fun!
So what's the bottom line? I don't blame my daughter. She only has taste for the foods that I have shaped for her. I'm the one who buys the frozen nuggets and convenience foods. She eats them because her mother, her primary care giver, gives them to her. I am the only one to blame for my child's obesity...no one else. I've spent the better part of this year in a state of confusion, always saying to people, "I don't know why she weighs so much, it's not like I feed her junk all the time!" But I've come to realize, or more like, the Lord has opened my eyes to my ownership as to why she's so overweight. I don't play with her enough, I don't get her outside in the sunshine and fresh air to run around and burn off her 3 year old energy. I use the television as a babysitter. I pretend I'm doing something good for her by taking her to McDonald's play place so she can climb and play and get some exercise, but the truth is, I just go there because there's free internet access and she will play long enough not to bother me while I surf the web (yuck). And while we're there, she fills up on high fat, high sodium, fried, fast food (ouch).
I use the excuse that I don't feed my child any differently than other parents who I know go to eat fast food 3 to 4 days a week and who's kids watch TV all day, and I resent the fact that their children are skinny and mine is fat. And I wonder, "Why me? Why does my child have to get fat when I'm not doing anything any differently than anybody else?" Which is just me separating myself from having any responsibility for the fact that she's 30 lbs overweight. Could I be any more selfish and childish?
Watching her new "movie player" she got for Christmas.
We mostly use this for long trips.
So there it is. The sad truth. But what do they say? The hardest part of the battle is first admitting the truth. And the truth is, if I'm not the one who makes changes for the better for my child, then she's going to suffer. Plain and simple. It's no fun being fat. I know for heaven's sake!!! Your clothes are always too tight, you get winded easily, you are teased at school, sports and games are no fun for you because you can't participate like the other kids, you have greater risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, cavities, and a host of other health problems no child should have to deal with. I've been too lazy or too scared to admit that it's me who has to change. But now, I can honestly say that I am willing to...for her. She is so beautiful, so bright, so happy, so loving, so curious, so funny and such an amazing spirit. I love her so much and I want other people to see her and know her for these same things...for who she really is. And I've been robbing her of that.
Such a happy little girl!
Things are going to change. I'm not sure how yet. But I do know one thing. The TV has to be cut off and mama needs to get up off her lazy bum and interact with her baby! I can't even think about her eating for now...my brain will go into overload! But one thing I can do is move with her. And I will!
I will keep you posted...
And please...don't judge, as I have done in the past. But please pray for wisdom for me and my husband. That God will continue to open up our eyes to how we can do better by our daughter. Thank you. :)