Thursday, June 11, 2015

Some Goals

A few days ago, I took Summer to her ice skating lesson while Nathaniel had lunch with a friend. He finished much later than we did, so Summer and I walked to a playground after she was done skating.
Turns out playgrounds are a little boring when you're the only kid there. It was hot and sunny and there are only so many times you can do the monkey bars before you start to wonder why you're doing it in the first place.
Sometimes, I'm an awesome mom. I came up with a conversation that would entertain us until Nathaniel could come pick us up.
"Summer," I asked, "What are your goals for the summer?"
Aside: yes, during the summertime, Summer's name can make for awkward sentences.
"Well, first," she said, "I want to exercise every day."
"That's a great goal," I said. "I will have that be my goal too."
"We can exercise together!" she said.
"Yes! And, I want to make an effort to eat really healthy," I said.
We listed some more hopes we have, improvements on our character we want to make. Mine: cooking dinner regularly, reading more often, cleaning more. Hers: working on her cursive handwriting, learning how to read.
"And then I want to be really nice to people," she said.
Huh. It did not occur to me to make this a goal. My excuse, I decided, is that I'm always really nice to people anyway? Maybe?
The remaining fifteen minutes went quickly. Soon Nathaniel was there and we were off. As we drove home, I listened to Summer list her goals in order of priority (being nice first, then cursive, then exercise) and I hoped I wasn't giving her anxiety. I said something about the most important thing for kids to do is to have fun. She agreed and moved on to her fourth goal: cursive.
I had a few goals I didn't share with her. Well, maybe just one: loving my body the way it is.
I have wasted much of my life wishing my body were different. Not too different, just a little smaller here and a little firmer there. I need this to stop. How sad would it be to lie on your death bed and still not feel comfortable in your own skin? To still feel like your body needs to change in order to be okay?
I know a few things to be true. First, a smaller body doesn't make you happy. It might make you feel more attractive, because, let's be honest, according to today's western ideas of what makes for an attractive body, mine is a bit too big. But a tad more attractive does not equal happy. It's a fleeting high.
Second, a more "ideal" body doesn't make you more self-confident. You can feel insecure, unloved, unwanted at any weight. And you can feel self-assured, self-confident, and comfortable in your own skin at any weight. Either way, self-confidence is hard work in this day and age when corporations spend billions of dollars on advertising with the sole goal of making women feel like they aren't enough.
If you want to feel self-confident, there are no short-cuts. You have to do the hard work of self-care, creating things you're proud of, and constantly reminding yourself that you are imperfect and that you're enough. You have to develop close relationships where you uplift and support each other. Worrying about weight only hinders this progress.
And, okay, if this isn't enough to remind myself to work to be comfortable in my own skin, maybe this is a better motivator: trying to lose weight is the biggest predictor of weight gain. Boom.
The fact is that society will approve of me more if I lose ten pounds. I would be treated better, get a better job, etc. But I will be okay without all that. I will be better in every way if I refuse to seek society's approval.
So here is to summertime and summer goals. We are looking forward to the splash bad, the pool, the summer reading program, summer camps, a trip to Utah, good food, good friends, and maybe a little self-improvement. Hopefully, by the end of summer, I will be that much more closer to loving my body for what it is. And in the habit of putting away my laundry right when I take it out of the dryer. Fingers crossed.


Tess June 15, 2015 at 7:54 AM  

Great post. Love you girl!