The other day I was working at my laptop while my daughter (10) and my boyfriend’s daughter (8) were leafing through old photo albums beside me. They came upon a picture of me from University and my daughter instantly exclaimed “Mom, you were so small!”.

Awkward pause.

My boyfriend’s daughter (the protector) piped up: “Like you were shorter, she means.” To which my daughter, now thinking she may have said something that could have hurt my feelings, replied “Yeah. It’s a good picture, mom.”

I knew which picture it was without looking and in that moment I realized many things at once.

I realized that in that picture I was probably the thinnest I have ever been, but I was also fucking miserable. I was full-on bulimic and constantly anxious. I cried all the time and found it near impossible to live with myself. Thoughts about my body were obsessive and dangerous.

I realized I didn’t much care that I was thinner then. There is an ease to the relationship I have with my body now that I have NEVER had before and, frankly, never knew was possible. I still struggle at times, but the patience I have with myself is remarkable.

I realized these beautiful girls, despite what we- as mothers- try to do, already judge their bodies and their outward appearances. They struggle. Even now.

I realized that all I can really do is model gentleness. All I can really do is model honesty. All I can really do is love myself as I am.

They have both heard me say time and time again that size doesn’t matter, that kindness is all that ever does. And as much as I adore words, without the action backing them up, they are meaningless.

So in that moment, all I did was look up at them from my screen and smiled, “Thanks, babies,” I said.

And I made a commitment to honour them as they are: intelligent, strong, kind-hearted, hilarious, creative, sassy, loud, quiet, out-going, shy, affectionate, reserved…gorgeous souls.

May I be a model of gentle acceptance for them, for my son, for myself, for all.

Amen.

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