It's no secret in my family that I've gained a noticeable amount of weight over the last few years. My former days of svelte are gone, and I am now the oh-so-round and comfortable owner of more than one pair of granny panties and a respectable collection of elastic waist pants and skirts--all sized a very ambiguous 2, on a scale of 1 to 3. Even so, I'm well aware that nothing short of a mumu is going to hide this sneetch-like belly of mine.
I've debated on how to handle this new super-sized me with my kids. Do I pretend I'm skinny like I used to be and call a moratorium on my burgeoning waistline? Do I go on and on about healthy eating and exercise and let them watch me work out like crazy to try to turn back the clock? Or do I pretend it doesn't matter at all and go ahead and live in my pajamas while ordering another round of yummy chocolate covered cream-filled cupcakes?
After a year of traveling in countries where a nice round belly is a sign of well-being and good-fortune, I decided my first move would be radical self-acceptance, no matter what the scale says. I am not twenty-five anymore, and my days of being able to skip lunch and watch my muffin top disappear are long over. I am a forty-something, middle-aged mom with a metabolism to match. This body of mine, which is showing signs of wear and tear--and yes, maybe one too many bowls of guacamole before dinner--has carried me through enormous changes, life-altering experiences and essential acts of love and/or domestic monotony. When I die, this old girl is coming with me, and if I won't love this dear body now, when do you imagine would be a more appropriate time? When I'm fifty and even more fluffy? Or when I'm sixty and by some miracle have mastered the art of moderation?
I have decided there is no better time than right now.
To symbolize my commitment to honor my body (and to not give youthful perfection unnecessary airplay in my mind), I dubbed my middle "The Chubby" and vehemently defended her whenever my kids started to play rough enough where someone nearby (i.e. me) could get hurt. Hey, guys! Watch out for The Chubby! I called out one day without really thinking during a serious roughhousing. Both kids immediately laughed and loved it that I was being both protective and playful.
From that day forward, The Chubby became a regular point of conversation between us, and I was shocked to see how lovingly both kids regarded The Chubby in the face of my newfound lack of shame in her very round presence.
I began to see that this glaring imperfection of mine was actually an avenue for my kids to embrace me as a soft, available, accessible, comforting presence. It feels good to hug someone who is a little more wobbly around the middle, and my kids could finally say so without worrying about hurting my feelings. I think they liked no longer having to pretend I wasn't a little bit fat, especially now that they could see I wasn't embarrassed that there was more of me to hold.
These days I really am paying attention to my well-being and my general health. I'm walking everyday and eating more bowlfuls of kale than candy and making sure that every meal is full of choices that will give me wholesome, natural energy. I've lost a little weight, but I'm pretty sure at my age and with my particular body type that The Chubby will always be with me, no matter what.
"Don't worry," I tell Carter when he begins to panic that all this good eating will be the disappearance of The Chubby. "Some signs of imperfection are also signs of comfort and they are meant to always stay." This I say as he folds himself happily into a deliciously round, warm hug.
What do you think? Can you celebrate The Chubby at your house or do you think that sends the wrong message to kids about the importance of fitness and health? What do you think about separating the idea of how much you weigh from your body image? You can be honest. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
*picture above shot by tracey clark, catching my better side, depending on how you look at it.