So, a few months ago I had my first big moment of feeling like, as a parent, I was failing. Now, I regularly feel like I am royally screwing up this mom thing, but this moment was different. Bailey Kate had come downstairs and was checking herself out in the mirror. Since my girl could find her reflection in anything she would stop and admire what she saw. I was worried I would have to figure out how to make her not so narcissistic because she LOVES herself, but I realized on that day a few months ago I was doing damage, I was leaving scars. Let me back up...
I remember the moment I became aware of my size and how it related to other people. I was in the second grade. I was in the hallway at school and my whole class was being measured and weighed for field day. I was the last in line. I remember playing with the girl in front of me without a care in the world. I remember she got weighed and measured and then it was my turn. I weighed 70 pounds. I don't remember what the other girl weighed, but it was less than me and she said "woah, you weigh more than me so you are fatter." That was it, the moment I started to let my size affect my self worth. This has been a life long struggle, fighting the feeling that the way I look defines who I am. No matter what size I have been I have always wanted to be thinner. I, too often, let how I look rob me of my peace and joy and I don't want that for my girls.
So, back to that day. I watched BK look in the mirror expecting the usual hair flip or the hilarious chat she would have with her reflection, but this day I saw her turn to the side, suck her stomach in and ask me, "mom, do I look fat?" ugh! A punch to the gut!!!! My sweet, care free, confident, self loving little girl was looking at her reflection and not liking what she saw. What made it even worse was that I knew she had heard me ask that question. I knew that she had seen me change my outfit multiple times and hear me mutter under my breath about how fat I felt, or how she would hear me say that I didn't want to eat something because it would make me fat. I was part of why my girl asked this question.
In this culture so much worth is placed on outward appearance. If you got your information from our culture you would quickly see what we as a society put value on is how you look. So, as a mom of girls how am I going to raise these treasures to realize that no matter how God made you are valuable! In that moment as my heart broke I realized I can change this. I called her over and hugged her tight. I told her she was beautiful and strong and healthy. I also said that us Nettles girls don't ever ask if we are fat, we ask if we look strong and healthy. I smooched that girl and sent her on her way.
I immediately purposed to NEVER comment on my size or how ugly I felt that day. I purposed to NEVER speak of food or exercise as the enemy. I have been super blessed with a husband (and parents) that NEVER make me feel like my size matters at all. He makes me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world, I know he loves me for so much more than what I look like. I want this for my girls, but in order to find a man like this, especially in this oversexualized culture, they have to know their worth is not defined by their appearance.
In the last few years I have purposed to not let my worth be defined by outward things, and I have to teach my children this. I have taken active roles to help with this. I think it is important to feel good about yourself and to take care of the body God has given you. After Jude I started running and doing Crossfit. I continued Crossfit through my pregnancy with Rose. Though I still would love to be thinner I know that I am strong and healthy. My kids come with me every day to the gym and watch me sweat. They watch me take this time for myself to be HEALTHY and strong. BK watches me. Bailey Kate begged me for months to start crossfit and after her little mirror incident I couldn't get her there fast enough. The other day she came up to me after a class and said, "mom, I look super strong don't I?" "yes, baby girl, you look super strong!"
My prayer for my girls, and goal in this crazy thing called parenting, is that they would realize that they are not valuable because of how they look or how smart they are. They are valuable because they are made in the image of Jesus. They are valuable because they are kind and generous and patient and gentle and strong. They are valuable because they were made to make a difference in this world and love others. I want them to know that their mommy and daddy and brothers love them NO MATTER WHAT! I want them to never struggle with how they look because they are so confident in the person God has made them to be.
Side note: I want this all for my boys to, but I think it translates a little differently for girls in this day in age.