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We all think our kids are the most beautiful ever, but mine really is. She’s ten and has this long, blonde hair, huge pool-water blue eyes, and a smile that she must have stolen from her dad…because it’s the same smile that made me fall in love with him. And smart? This kid remembers just about everything. She’s perfect is all I’m saying. So the other day I was in the laundry room folding clothes and I heard my precious daughter in the bathroom talking. I held my breath for a second so I could eaves drop… Am I the only one who does that? I love catching those little moments. I love listening to her when she doesn’t know I’m listening because she says things in those moments that she’d never say if she knew I could hear her. “Ugh,” she started. “I am so fat. I have to go on a diet.”
The Reason I Will Never Criticize Myself In Front Of My Daughter Again
My heart beat hard against my ribcage. Then, anger. Pure, raw anger. Whoever told this tiny human of mine that she was too fat was going to die a brutal, painful death.
I set the clothes down to go find out who I would have to murder when she said this: “And these arms. One strong wind and I’ll fly away.”
My breath caught. That’s what I say. I say it all the time. But she’s tiny…how could she think that about herself? I swallowed and went to the bathroom. “Hey baby, what’cha doing?”
She startled and turned to look at me. “Nothing. Can I go outside to play?”
I never realized that she listened to me when I criticized myself. And it’s not that I do it all the time, but we all have those moments of weakness, you know? Those moments where we feel just a little bit too bloated, or just a smidge too blah in our own skin. Or when we start to wonder if we’ll ever lose the 45 extra pounds that stuck around after our last pregnancy.
Sometimes it feels like a lot, living in this skin. I’m insecure and maybe if I criticize myself, I can get all the insulting things other people are saying out of the way before they have a chance to say them.
That double chin.
That underarm floppiness.
Those stretch marks.
My muffin top.
And I’ll stand in the bathroom mirror and examine myself like I’m a horse at auction.
But I never knew she was listening.
Hearing her repeat those words cut deep into my soul. I don’t think it ever dawned on me before I heard it that the way I see myself is going to shape the way she sees herself. I mean, I’d always Always made sure she understood just how beautiful, incredible, and completely loved she is, but in putting myself down, I made it okay for her to look for flaws in herself…flaws that aren’t even there.
At dinner that night I watched as she shoved food around her plate. “Not hungry?” I asked, remember exactly what she’d said into the mirror earlier.
“No,” she told me. Even though she’d had a long day at school. And had been playing outside.
“I think after dinner you and I should go get an ice cream,” I told her.
Ice cream is her favorite. Always has been.
I want to tell her I’m sorry.
That I’ll make this right somehow.
That her body is perfect exactly as it is.
But before I can do any of that, I’ll have to make sure she knows I feel the same way about mine.
I’ll have to fake it until I believe it.
Because she’s watching. And if I ever hear her talking about herself in the bathroom mirror again, I want her to be saying all the wonderful things I feel about her…not the bad things I feel about myself.
I just really hope I’m not too late.
Have you ever gone through something like this with your own daughter? Tell us about it in the comments below!