Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Mommy, I'm Chubby!"

Yesterday, my daughter (who's 3, almost 4) and I were riding in the car together. She pipes up from the backseat, and out of the clear blue says, "Mommy, we match!" "How cute." I thought. But then I asked, "How do we match baby?" And she proudly proclaimed, "I'm chubby just like you!" I was like, "WHAT?!!!!" But I calmly asked her, "What do you mean chubby? What makes mommy chubby?" She quickly replied, "You have a fat tummy and I have a fat tummy. We match!" I just dropped the subject by telling her, "Baby, you're not fat, nor are you chubby. You're beautiful just the way you are."

 What a little 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 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 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 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. :)


  1. Prayers for you and Bobby. That was extremely courageous of you to admit, write and share! You can do this for her and you! May God richly bless you as you embark on this new journey of health for you and your beautiful daughter!

  2. Haven't read your blog in a long time but today it happened to pop up and so I read. I have always admired your honesty Angie. I LOVE your heart for the Lord. I have sat here praying and weeping for you. It's almost like I felt a tiny piece of your guilt. I am praying for wisdom like you asked... also for God to continue giving you the desire to play and be active with your sweet princess. One thing we do all the time in our home to let out some energy is turn on Praise music and have a worship dance party. We all have such a great time . . . all while praising our King. Love you girl.

  3. Angie I have been and am in the same shoes with my oldest son right now. Its hard and this blog really has my heart breaking not only for you but for me as well. He is old enough to go behind my back and get other sources of food now though so it's going to have to be his choice. I love you and your daughter you beautiful inside and out in my eyes :D

  4. In the future, if you in fact know that she is a "picky eater", they offer a "picky eaters" program at Cardinal Hill. Just wanted to mention that there are programs that address picking eating, and I know you are a great mom. I admire your courage to write about this!

  5. My heart is breaking for you! My babies are both very small, but I am definitely not - although pre-babies I was as well. But, I could definitely relate to a lot of what you said in this post. Putting the tv on so I can get online, trying to give them something else to do so I can get some cleaning done. Not playing with my kids, it is awful. I think part of the problem for me is that I feel like I never have a break. My daughter is almost 4 as well, and I have a 19 month old son. They are constantly going, and I can't keep up. My daughter is also very picky, preferring to only eat fruit/oatmeal/pasta then anything else. I am trying to do better by making a balanced meal for myself and telling her that is what we have to eat, and if she doesn't want it then she doesn't eat...kind of a hard line to take, but over the past few months we have been doing this she has started asking for more veggies, and seems to be eating our meals, albeit in a much smaller portion...sometimes just a few bites.

    I have to remember that she is small, she likes to eat several small meals throughout the day, and although my mom thinks that I am ruining her, I think that it makes more sense for her to have several snacky type meals throughout the day then 3 big meals. I hope that you are able to work out something that works for your family! I need to shut the tv off too...good luck!

  6. Hey Angie!
    Listen, I think that we can all say that we have done some of the same things. I think to myself all of the time that I need to take the kids out more often then I do to let them play. I too put them in front of the tv so that I can try to get something done for the time being. I too reward with McDonalds. Some of the things are not the same, but some of the things are. My children are not over weight but I worry that my boy is heading that way. I have fought my whole life to try and keep things at bay with my weight, which ends up with me hungry half of the time. However, I get on to my son SO much in fear that he will have the same problem that I will. So then we have the question... where is the happy medium? Do we get on to our children and make them feel ashamed for eating to much or do we let them eat more then they should and then have them feel ashamed for being over weight. Either way it sucks for the parent. BUT that is what we do... we watch out and make decisions that we think are the best for our kids. Taking the step to change things in your house is HUGE! I hope that you are able to stay the course and make the change! Good luck and I am thinking about you!
    Lindsay George-Wolburg

  7. It's the hardest thing in the world to change one's eating habits. A few years ago I (unilaterally) decided that my entire family should eat only local foods. I thought my family was going to totally revolt - and they did, sort of, but it's gotten much better.

    If you have space, you might consider growing a garden with your daughter. I've seen some studies (which, of course, I can't put my finger on right now ... figures, eh? *grin*) that show that kids are often more willing to eat something they've grown.

    If you don't have a yard, container gardening is wicked fun and very easy. The seed company, Johnny's Seed, has a list of container friendly vegetables, herbs and flowers (some of which are edible, which is also fun for kids ;).

    I always quip that I have the "pickiest eater in the world." My fifteen year old doesn't like anything except pepperoni pizza and hot dogs - which are okay every now and then, but not every day. She's the opposite of your daughter, though, as a dancer, and she's rail thin, which is also very concerning.

    Good luck! As I said, it's hard to change one's eating habits, and it'll take diligence and a lot of tenacity - on your part ;).

  8. I had the hardest time getting my kids to eat veggies. I cooked them everyway I knew how to try to find some way that they liked them. It finally dawned on my lightning fast mind that they were munching them up as I was cutting them up, but would not eat them after I cooked them. Have you tried serving just raw veggies? One of my kids favorites is sliced up bell pepper. They even eat raw potatoes. I have slowly gotten them to eat more now, but it was a struggle especially with Gabriel who was very picky. I have a house full or carnivores!


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