We were laying in bed nose to nose whispering sweet little “I love you’s” when my son said it.
“Momma you are beautiful… and fat.”
My heart that had at first began to fill with love and gratitude plummeted to a pit in my stomach. A myriad of thoughts ran through my head like a freight train bound for Negativeville. But as I looked at his precious face I realized he was smiling. This was not a sneaky grin but rather one full of joy and love. A smile I usually bestow on my own little kiddletts when my heart runs over with appreciation for them in my life.
I knew in that moment I had a choice of how I could respond. I could scold him and tell him not to call mommy that and “fat isn’t a nice word”. Or I could breathe and say thank you. I could appreciate that my son sees me as I am and still loves me. That when a society screams “Fat is lazy”, “Fat is unlovable”, “Fat is not good enough” he just sees his momma whom he loves.
You see he sees fat as a descriptive word not as a defining characteristic. I am sure he has heard me use it and describe myself as I scrutinize my outfit. In his young little mind he heard it and stored it away for later use. Just as he tells me he likes my yellow hair or my round eyes he saw this as way to share his feelings. That night he went on to further describe what he “loved” about my body. He told me my belly was soft and squishy and the best place to lay his head for a rest.
By breathing through my first visceral reaction to the word I gained a further understanding of how my son see’s me… physically and emotionally as his soft place to land.
I know that there are a plethora of people out there who say do not celebrate being “fat”. They will claim I am being a bad example and that I am setting up my kids for failure. I am adamant however, that this is simply not true. You can encourage healthy lifestyles and positive nutrition choices without vilifying a characteristic. Once you start understanding that fat is not who you are but is rather just a word it becomes a lot easier to work on being less “squishy”.
Have your children ever described you in a way you didn’t expect? Share how you handled the unexpected descriptor.