I knew I was getting really fat when I couldn’t fit in the desk at school. This was last January. I asked my professor to switch classrooms. He did. We were reassigned to a lecture hall. It probably seats 500. There were six of us. I still couldn’t fit. I managed to sit sideways all semester, on one butt cheek. I would sit all the way on the left of the auditorium, perched to the right, so my body language read, “oh, do tell me more about statistics!” In reality, my body was screaming at me, “You don’t fit. You are enormous and you must be stupid to be this fat.”
Last night at graduation my gown wouldn’t zip closed. I had grownups asking me if they could walk all the way back to their cars to get safety pins. What good are Masters’ sleeves if you can’t close the robe? How can I focus on 200 students’ successes when I am desperately trying to hide my one failure.
I only bring up my fatness because it has become very real, and I do not feel like a good mother.
You know this meme? I used to laugh about it all the time. But it is not funny, now. I really thought I was fat when I was younger, and now I know I was absolutely taught to be ashamed of my body. I can remember my mom asking me to go on a diet with her. I was 12, the same age as my eldest daughter. My mom wasn’t fat, and neither was I. I honestly think she just wanted someone to do the diet with; we were not fat. It was the late 80s. I think it was something to do.
The first time I thought I was fat was the spring of 9th grade. I had finished playing a season of soccer where I started and played every minute of every game. The team had an end of the year party at someone’s pool. Most girls wore two pieces, I wore a one piece, and a few girls wore t-shirts over their swimsuits. One of the girls was reading Cosmo aloud and said, “It says that the average American woman is 5,4″ and weighs 140 pounds.” Everyone started laughing about how much 140 pounds was. They started shouting out their weights. 118. 109. 112. 123- but I have boobs! I shouted out 127 because I, too had boobs. I weighed 150 pounds. I felt like a criminal, and I started subtracting at least 20 pounds from my real weight, just because…. Every time after that, I felt empowered stating my weight aloud. Eff the haters! I’m healthy! I’m more than a number! I’m… lying and disproving the idea that a number can’t define me.
I can tell you how much I weighed at every milestone in my life. First time in love? 160. Losing my virginity? 170. Getting married? 191. When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter? 212. Teacher of the year in my school district? 240. Pregnant with my second daughter? 260. And now? Jesus. 308.
Did I mention that my wife was a personal trainer and we used to own a health club? Yeah, so there’s that.
I’m now going to try to put into words how I feel as a fat mom: Stupid. Oh. I guess that wasn’t hard. I am stuck feeling like my daughters must understand how brilliant they are; they are both miracles from God. I want them to delight in their bodies’ abilities to run and learn and play instruments! I want them to feel beautiful and confident no matter what. I guard what they watch, read, listen to, and we have “talks” about everything that may eat away at that purity and beautiful confidence. But I doubt how effective my “talk” will be if I am not walking the walk. I feel like a fraud.
Up until recently, I have felt like a pretty good role model. I sort of don an “Eff the haters” attitude, and I take pride that I can move my own sofa. I ran a 5K last year (slowly) with my daughter. I weighed 286. It’s telling that I have zero recollection of my finish time, but I know my weight. I have always worked out off and on, more off than on. I know calories, Weight Watcher Points, and glycemic indexes for hundreds of foods. I am pretty sure I can design a workout program fit for celebrities of all shapes and sizes. I’ve used a FitBit, RunKeeper, Couch to 5K, Spark People, Fitness Blender, Daily Burn, and I bought P90X. I’ve joined gyms and taken Zumba classes. Also, Tae Bo. This has been going on for 3 decades. I know every app, program, diet and plan works. I just don’t do any long enough or regularly enough. I can’t seem to muster the will to begin and stick with a real lifestyle shift.
Ugh. No one told me that I would have to wade through my biggest, crappiest issues to be a good mom. Why is being a mama so hard? Seriously. I am deep in the crud here. I have 40 years of very large baggage (saddle bags? Ha ha!). I suppose admitting I have a problem is the first step. Maybe the parenting role model part comes in the persistence? I’m pretty sure the Mamma Tech community of “technology and parenting” will provide real, practical ideas or thoughts to get me going and keep me going. I’m smart. I value technology’s usefulness. I believe parenting is the greatest (hardest, most exhausting and hilariously frustrating) prayer God answered in my life. I’m confident you feel the same way. Help me, y’all.