Last night, my daughter and I were rolling around on the floor– just being silly– and my shirt pulled up a bit, revealing my tummy. I started to pull it down, but my daughter was too quick for me and gave me a raspberry right on my belly button, holding my shirt firmly in place and out of the way. My child is freakishly strong.
My abdomen has been my least favorite part of my body for I don’t know how long. Probably since I was her age, when my mom asked me at a clothing store, “Why are you sticking your stomach out like that? Hasn’t anybody ever taught you how to suck it in?” And of course I’ve been sucking it in ever since– but I have a tummy. Even when I was 117 pounds and I could feel my ribs through a thin layer of skin, my lowest weight ever as an adult, I had a tummy. Being pregnant was so wonderful and freeing, because for once I was supposed to have a round belly! And even better, it was supposed to get bigger and bigger, not flatter and flatter. No tummy-guilt.
“No, no, no,” I told my daughter, and I covered my stomach up before she could give me another raspberry. She asked me why, and before I could think of a better answer, I told her the truth. “I don’t like my tummy. I never have.”
“Well, I do, and I want to kiss it!”
“Why do you like it?” I asked, and she retorted, “Because it’s your tummy, Mommy! It’s my favorite part!”
And so there you go. This is one of the hardest parts of being a parent– forgiving yourself, liking yourself. Hating even a part of yourself makes no sense to your children, who love you unconditionally, foibles and all. It’s been eight years, and I still catch myself marveling at the fact that my child thinks the world of me. She thinks I can control things that I cannot control. I am the only one who can cut her toast the right way, make tuna correctly, or tuck her in at night. A few years ago, she was convinced I controlled the weather and refused to believe that I couldn’t. When I admonish her even slightly, she is crushed and hurt to the core.
My God, what power we wield over our children! How in the world am I supposed to live up to these impossible expectations?
But that’s just it– simply by existing and doing my best, forgiving myself and striving to be a better person– to her, I am living up to those expectations. Scary, but true.
In turn, I have to remind myself to do the same for my own mother. I am out of practice sometimes. We have, at times, an uneasy relationship. We have danger zones that I have to tread lightly near. I feel like one of those many, many dire wolves who has heard about those tar pit things, and knows they must be nearby. But then, FLOOP, I get sucked in just like so many before me. As I get sucked in, whether I’m the dire wolf or my current self, I think, “But I was looking out for this and I still stepped into it? Whyyyyyy?”
Today I’m going to make Smitten Kitchen’s Grapefruit Olive Oil cake. I’ve been doing very well on a diet, and want a reward. The only thing I’m changing (!) is that I won’t be using any turbinado sugar. I don’t think it’ll make that big of a difference this time, do you? Earlier this week I went to coffee at a friend’s house, and I’d had the foresight to make the Smitten Kitchen brownies the night before. They are horribly easy! I think the simplicity of the recipe is one of the reasons I’m on a diet now. Oh, excuse me: One of the reasons why I am trying to eat healthy proportions now. My husband has a problem with me calling it a diet, because in the past I’ve gone overboard in the calorie counting department. I get competitive. With myself. Isn’t that stupid? I’m using an app that says I need 1600 calories a day, though, and that just sounds way too high if I’m trying to lose weight, you know? It’s not like I’m incredibly active over here, except for housework, yoga, and walking to the bus stop.
Moderation in all things, I think, so I’ve cut out snacking, pure and simple, and then calorie count the meals to keep portions rational.
But going from Snackatron 3000 to nothing, cold turkey, is hard (whine, whine, whine) so I’m going to reward myself.
And to end with, this kitty has allergies, just like everybody else in this house. Is he allergic to himself? What the heck is blooming outside? I think it’s olives. Poor Thor.