Throughout my childhood, my mom struggled with anorexia. It was her way of controlling something in the chaos of my dad’s mental illness. I can empathize with that, but at the same time, it makes me so angry, because I know that a lot of my eating disorder was learned from her.
In my darkest moments, I wish I could deny myself food and attain that stick-thin 90-pound frame that my mom had when I was young. But, most of the time, I am so grateful that my daughter doesn’t see me like that everyday.
I realize the gift I’m able to give her (an my son) by talking in a healthy way about food, exercise, and our bodies. My mom still to this day finishes every meal with, “I’m so full; I ate too much.” — and my kids think that’s weird. I’m so glad they do. Because when I heard that after every single meal as a child, I was filled with shame thinking that I had eaten too much, too, having eaten four times as much as my mom ever did.
I’m glad my kids see me working out during the week as a means to stay strong, that they think it’s obviously something important to me–but not so important that I NEED to do it on the weekends or when we have other plans.
I’m glad that my kids see my “normal” female body at a “normal’ weight and that they don’t even know what the word “diet” means.
I’m glad that my kids don’t think of anything as “good” or “bad” or healthy or unhealthy. They know that we don’t eat ice cream every day, but they do expect it a few times a week and love it. And, mom and dad eat it with them.
I’m glad that they think larger bodies are beautiful, too, and that they know that I love them no matter what they look like.
Last night, I had a girls night date with my daughter, and she requested that she just wanted to go “someplace where we can see all the cakes.” So, we went to a fancy restaurant with a bakery that displays oodles of delicious desserts. We each chose our dessert before we even sat down for our meal, and we loved every minute of it. She reveled in her ganache-covered chocolate bombe, and I at every bite of the flourless chocolate cake I ordered.
We had such fun. And, twice, after she was finished with her meal and her dessert, my daughter announced, “My tummy says she’s full.” And so, we came home with tons of boxed up food that we’ll have today for lunch.
While I was lying in bed last night, I was struck by the fact that not too many years ago, I would have felt so guilty about that meal. I would most likely have bought five additional pieces of cake to take home with me, which I would have lied about and said I was taking home for someone else… and then I would have binged and purged. That thought didn’t even enter my head at the restaurant, though I did feel fuller than I was comfortable with. I was just enjoying life and having fun with my daughter.
I need to remind myself that even in the slips and the relapses, I have made so much progress. And, I’m proud of that.