“Mom, am I fat?” Her little face looks up at me, tears welling at the corners of her eyes. My heart shatters. “No, you are perfect!, ” I scream inside. Perfect.
My baby girl, only four. Still with baby cheeks and a squishy belly.
We walk toward the car. She is carrying her ballet bag, her sheer tutu skirt blows around her as we go out the doors and I want to pull her close. Cover her, shelter her from it all.
We’re driving. My eyes flickering into the rear mirror. “Why did you ask that, where did you get that from?”
She had never registered the word fat meant anything negative. It was the same as blonde or tall. When we had pointed to her baby pictures where rolls of fat surrounded a onesie and said she looked like a little sumo when she was born and how cute she was and how I loved my chubby baby, kissed every one of those rolls, squeezed her and held her and had never seen anything so beautiful, she giggled and asked us to tell her again.
I have been careful. But I sometimes slip. In dressing rooms, when nothing fits and the sales girl asks politely “how did those work out for you?” and I take a few with me because the pile is massive and I put them back in the next aisle and slip away empty.
I slip with plans to go out, clothes on the floor, while my husband waits. Looking in the mirror, filled with disgust, embarrassed. Sometimes I slip, “I have nothing to wear, everything looks terrible. The F word. Fat. ”
Did she hear me? When all those women say to her, you look just like your momma, did she think that was bad? She always tells me I look pretty. Even on days when it would be a bold-faced lie from anyone else, she means it. I am her world. She wants to be like me as I wanted to be like my mother when I was four. She stands by my makeup table when I’m putting on lipstick , awed by my beauty. She wants some too. I give her chapstick. She puckers and copies.
Some girl had asked if there was a baby in her belly, tiny little dancer, so cute from afar but vicious. She had said it over and over. Kaia, my sweet, tender-hearted girl had replied that it wasn’t a baby, it was food. “You’re just fat then,” pink ballerina said haughtily. Wounded at 4 in a home school ballet class. I cannot protect her. This is the world in which we live.
There will be more insults.
My soul aches at the thought of my baby being hurt. Ever feeling she is not enough. Ever feeling she is unworthy, not belonging.
I pull over. Turn to her. I try to hold in my emotions but I want to smother her, scream, “DON”T LISTEN TO THEM, DONT EVER LISTEN!” I know how sharp the devil’s tongue is and how deep the scars can go. It is a voice I have listened to many times. In dressing rooms, in mirrors, in the quiet of my heart.
But I will tell you the truth about who you are. I have known you when you rolled within my belly, your cries and the smell of your newborn head nuzzled into me. I have watched you become a little person. Your heart. Peacemaker. Kind. Generous. Child of mine. You belong. I would gladly take any instant of hurt. Bury it in me so you feel nothing but acceptance and love. I know that I cannot do this for her. But I know of someone who can. Only you, Father. Only you.
I speak truth into her. Flood her with the truth of who she is. I bury her in words of love and grace. Lord, don’t let me slip. Let me be the mom you created for her. Let me be someone buried in you. Covered by your words.
Let my fat suit be shed not just in pounds but in chains. Let me speak and believe the words that you died for. The words that give me a new identity. Wholly in you. Belonging. Perfect. Without blemish.
If you are a mom with daughters. Be careful. They are watching. They are listening. Teach them what is important. Teach them what is true. Be a woman who is found in God, not your body whether fat or skinny, pretty or plain. Be found in Him. That is the first step to lay it down.
Next week: Decluttering Part three: Self magazine, motivation, and the fight to surrender.