To Be…That is the Question
Hello, lovely readers! I’m Claire Mysko, author of You’re Amazing! A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self and co-author of Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat? The Essential Guide to Loving Your Body Before and After Baby (“due” this October). I’m also a mother-to-be. In other words, I don’t have children yet, but I plan to step into those parenting shoes someday soon.
I thought about my “to be” title a lot as I was working on my forthcoming book, and I thought about it even more when I was invited to participate in the BlogHer “Blogs and Body Image: What Are We Teaching Our Kids?” panel.
“Expectant” and “pregnant” are all about those forty weeks of waiting and counting down. “To be,” on the other hand, is far from finite and passive. It’s a phrase about my wide-open future and the responsibility I have to shape it. It’s a gulp (“Holy crap, can I really be trusted to take care of another human?”), a flutter (“Ok, maybe I could really handle it, and it might just be amazing!”), and a giant kick in the ass. What kind of mother do I want to be? And that is not a rhetorical question. So here goes.
The mother I want to be is…
Imperfect. I hereby resign myself to the fact that I will be screwing up, saying the wrong thing, and making numerous parenting blunders that might very well get me reported to the Supermommy Police. It’s also highly likely that I will end up with some stretch marks and lumps and bumps where they weren’t before. Shock of all shocks, I will keep making mistakes (hopefully not the same ones) and my body will keep changing as I get older. I won’t “let myself go,” but I sure as hell will give myself a break—often. I won’t be perfect, but I will teach my children the value of imperfection.
Diet and scale-free. It was a full-on revelation when I finally learned how to eat nutritious food when I was hungry and stop when I was full. What a thrill to find that my body actually didn’t need me to obsessively track carbs or organize my life into 100-calorie packs! And how amazing to finally let go of my weight, to allow that number exist only in my doctor’s notes and nowhere else—not in the digital read on my bathroom scale (which I stared at after every meal, purge, and workout), and not as a taunting, critical echo that constantly reverberated in my mind. I want my children to grow up understanding the importance of intuitive eating. I want to show them that physical and emotional health are not defined by numbers.
Truthful. I won’t go out of my way to hide the fact that I’ve struggled with food and weight issues in the past. There is too much shame and silence around eating disorders and disordered eating already. I won’t add to it. I also won’t deny that it can be hard to feel good about your body in a culture that works so hard to convince you that you need to be something other than yourself—thinner, more attractive, wealthier, better. I know I won’t be able to shield my children from those messages and pressures, but I can make sure they have an outlet to talk about them. I will acknowledge how they affected me growing up, I will help my children find the power in their own voices, and I will encourage them to keep seeing the many possibilities of “to be”.