Friday, September 13, 2013

Smaller body or bigger family?

Jill and Daniel are really sure that our family needs a baby brother. So sure that Jill is actually pretty convinced that I am pregnant. I have told her many times that I am not pregnant, but I don't think she believed me until the other day (I hope she finally believed me, or she is going to be disappointed in a few months). I wish I had used different words to convince her though.

Jill: "Mommy, I think Orangey will like carrots."
Mimi: "Who is 'Orangey'?"
Jill: "That is what our baby brother's name is going to be."
Mimi: "Your dad and I were thinking more along the lines of Gordo or Gordie."
Jill: "Nope. Orangey."
Time passes.
Mimi: "Jill, you know I'm not pregnant, right?"
Jill: "No, you are."
Mimi: "Jill, there is no baby in my belly."
Jill: "Well, not a baby baby."
Mimi: "No, no baby at all."
Jill: "Well, you're, you know, making a baby, just growing the bones, but it is our baby brother."
Mimi: "I'm not even growing his bones; there is no baby starting to grow inside of me at all." (Thinking in my head: Is today the day I explain where babies come from?!)
Jill: "But, your tummy is big."
Mimi: "Tummies can be big without babies inside of them."
Look of complete disbelief from Jill.
Jill: "Why is your tummy big if you aren't making a baby in your belly?"
Mimi: "It just is."
Jill: "Why?"
Mimi: "Because I already have grown babies in there, so it has more room—it's bigger."
Jill: "But why is it still bigger with no baby inside?"
Mimi: "Well, it's just fat. My stomach is fat." (I said that calmly.)
Complete silence. Jill seemed stunned. She then sat up straight and looked down at her stomach.
Jill: "Mommy, is my stomach fat?"
Mimi: "No, no, Jill, your stomach is perfect!"
And then she didn't say anything else, and I was too busy worrying if I had just taught my daughter to hate her female body for the rest of her life because I used the word 'fat,' so the conversation ended.


Here is another conversation from a few days ago.
I am on the bed with Alice. Jill comes into the room, carrying my makeup. 
Jill: "Mommy, can we put make up on?"
Mimi: "Sure, if you want to."
Jill and I help each other get dolled up.
Jill: "Can I put on more?"
Mimi: "Nope, I think we're good."
Jill: "But I want to look pretty."
Mimi: "Do you think we put on makeup to look pretty?"
Jill nods.
Mimi: "Sweetie, we put on makeup because it is fun. We are already pretty without makeup. Makeup is just for fun. It's art, like painting or coloring a picture."
Jill looks at me and doesn't say anything.
Mimi: "Always remember that makeup is just for fun, and that you are beautiful no matter how you look."


Jill, you are so beautiful, because of your smile and your joy and your kindness. Because you help "babysit" Alice, and you share with your brother, and you welcome new friends into your life. Because you sing with gusto and you dance like no one's watching. Because you tackle challenges fearlessly. You are so beautiful.
And I would never trade my bigger body for a smaller family. I am so grateful that I have been blessed to "grow the bones" of four babies inside my belly, and I am so lucky to have given birth to three of them, and I am proud of my softness.


Wish me luck. I didn't expect discussions on true beauty to already begin when my daughter is four years old. I thought that would be middle school or something.

Do you have any advice on how your parents did it well or on what you are trying to do with your children?

7 comments:

  1. You are such a good mom. I think this post made me grateful that I only have boys. She is so aware! I think your answers were great and I agree- Jill is beautiful! (just like her mom.)

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  2. And to update, Jill did not believe me. I wrote this post on Wednesday with delayed posting, and this morning, she looked at me and said, "See, Mom, your stomach IS getting bigger. You do have a baby!"

    Sigh.

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  3. I almost hate to say this out loud, because my daughter is saying the exact same thing (while I'm saying "we're done.") but I believe our kids know where there are more spirits in heaven waiting for us to bring them here. My son is the reason our third is here, and I am acutely aware that the closer they are to their departing of the veil - the closer they are to what is on the other side. I hope that doesn't sound creepy, just my perspective.

    McKinley is four too, and we're having a lot of the same conversations. They are learning so many different things from so many different places. School, family, friends, TV (commercials are the worst), Movies (even children's movies), Music, Church, etc. etc. the list goes on and on. The best we can do is reiterare to them what true beauty really is. I think you handled it beautifully. They say that humans believe what they are told if they hear it at least 7 times. I'm guessing you're going to repeat that conversation many more than seven times over the next 14 years - so she's going to believe it without a doubt. You're doing a great job as a mother!

    P.S. I wouldn't trade a smaller body for a smaller family either - but I'm okay with neither getting any bigger (At least for now). :)

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  4. Bravo, Meems. Some people would probably think I'm slightly obsessed with makeup and beauty things (if they knew I was a closet case lol), but it's all just for fun! Even the biggest YouTube "beauty gurus" talk about how makeup is just to enhance what's already there, and can be a helpful tool, but it's mainly just for fun. I'm so glad you're teaching Jill that lesson already. She needs to hear it again and again. We need to keep ourselves looking attractive, but it should never be what defines us. Love it.

    Thanks for all your support! You're awesome!

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  5. My girls think makeup is for church, and I don't know how I feel about that. Whenever I have makeup on, no matter where we are going, they say "Oh, Mommy! You have your church eyes on!" They also criticize me for not coloring my eyes "all the way to the top". And I don't understand at all why Orangey can't even be on the table for consideration as a name, someday. I think it's classic.

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  6. You are such a wise and loving mother Mimi, I loved reading this!

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  7. The girls psychologist told us to start as early as possible instilling them with confidence and explaining how bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that they are beautiful no matter what. She said this will prevent any future issue with confidence before it is too late in middle or high school with the "popular kids" and the girls that may be smaller, taller, have longer hair or even a different hair color than them... So at her age, it's a perfect time to start! By the time she is a little older she will realize she is a truly beautiful and confident young lady!

    The girls didn't get that before they came to us so we've had to really "beat" it into them because they had a really skewed sense of beauty from their previous home. They thought make-up needed to be caked on to be pretty and they had to dress in smaller/shorter clothes as they got older because that's what everyone else does and older girls get boyfriends when they dress that way. It's been hard but it has been worth it! They now think they are gorgeous without needing anything on their face or their hair being perfect. They want to dress modestly instead of in skimpy clothes because they don't need skimpy clothes to be pretty or make friends... It's been a nice thing to watch as they have gotten older.

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