My 20-year prep to answer one question

She bought us all ice cream and we sat down.

ice cream

Our local ice cream stand overlooks a cemetery, reminding us we only live once! Funnermother.com

“So, are you going to put yourself on a diet, or are you going to keep getting fatter?” she asked me.  In front of my kids.  But I was ready this time. I smiled.

“I like being this size, I feel solid and strong, tough and warm.”  In front of my kids.  The past 20 years have been in part about preparing for that question.  Coming to feminism and a love of women, divorcing, moving two states away then five states away, decades in higher education…  The 30 years before THAT I’d been a tiny slip of a thing, skittish, worried, pleasing, afraid.  I don’t want that for my kids — who does?

resilience

Ice cream overlooking the cemetery – YOLO
Funnermother.com

“If you’d put on a little makeup and lose some weight you’d look better,” she shrugged.  In front of my kids.

“It’s okay, I’m happy mom.”  In front of my kids, modeling self-love and resilience.  Somewhere in there my ‘running mate’ had exclaimed “I like it!” and I love him for it, but my kids (6 and 9 at the time) were watching me.

I’m not remarkable in the self-love and resilience departments.  Losing a little weight would help my asthma, my back, all of it.  But I want my kids to see resilience, contentment, and yes, self-love.  And I want them to not see me trying to explain, rationalize, out-talk or talk down to my mother.  And not take on her judgement and insecurity either (they don’t need to know that I still struggle with that bit).  I think tonight at tuck-in time we’ll talk about Teflon.  I’d love to hear your story about resilience and kids in the comments below.

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12 thoughts on “My 20-year prep to answer one question

  1. My stories about resilience would be longer than our 800 page fiction novels.

    Resilience comes from falling down, getting up, falling down, scraping your knees, breaking, getting up. Falling, breaking more parts than you knew you had, feeling like a crushed china tea cup and then…

    When you feel like the porcelain dust that is left, you discover that THERE is SOMETHING MORE to you. Something bigger and stronger than the glue that will piece you back together again, over and over and over again. You discover that you are unbreakable. You discover that you are made out of a substance that is bendable and soft, porous and yet harder than diamonds. You find out that you shine with a light that doesn’t come from this world and that nothing, not a word anyone can say, or a thing anyone can do, could ever put out your light. You are resilient, you are unstoppable. You are Eternal. You are LOVE.

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    • Wendy, wow, thank you for your strong comment! It sounds like you’ve found your diamond-strong resilience, and that rocks. Thanks so much for reading, I feel strongly that we have to let our kids fall down, scrape, break, and get back up — with any luck mine will end up as strong and awesome as you! x A

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  2. Good for you Angela for being such a great role model for your children! Mother-Daughter relationships can be challenging sometimes.

    I think our children are always watching us to see how we handle things because that’s how they learn. I was taught resilience at an early age from my mother and I’ve done my best to pass that on to my teen son. I know it’s an important life skill that has gotten me thru some rough times. Keep up the good work.

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  3. With every blog post I read Angela, I fall in love with you a little more. Thank you for being so vulnerable with us, your readers. I see your courageous, beautiful fabulous-ness when I read this. If only the wisdom that comes from going around the block a few times could come earlier in life. Perhaps this is the way. The new parenting way, to demonstrate it so our youth can learn and live by the example set by strong, resilient women like you my friend.

    I found my resilience while recovering from divorce, rediscovering my self after the shock of it all. Of him not being capable of working on our marriage. Of me, plummeting into the deepest pit. With no self esteem left. Of course, ultimately this was the catapult to find the real me. To fight for life and my own, independent happiness.

    Bravo to you, and the parents out there like you.

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    • Oh you are kind. I’ve also been divorced and had some dark days as an adult, and you know I’m not a YOUNG mom. Do you think there’s anything that could have prevented the deepest pit? You know, trying not to be a helicopter parent, I think they have to fail to learn. BUT!!! I hope I’m drawing the line in the right places. Thank you so much for stopping by, for reading, and for sharing. xx Angela

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  4. As a parent, we have an instinct to protect our children. To shield them from anything and everything that could hurt them physically or emotionally. As I watch my son grow, I struggle constantly with this. Finding the balance. Where to draw that line. Protecting him from the things I really should be protecting him from, but also allowing him to experience the joy AND the pains in life (that’s a hard one!). To fall, get banged up and then realize that he CAN get back up and try again.

    Two of the greatest things I learned from my Mom are the ability to look at a situation and say “Ok, this is not a problem – I can handle this”, and also that it’s ok to ask for help.

    I hope I can pass these along to my son.

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    • Jennifer, thanks for topping by my blog! Exactly — trying to figure out where to draw the line… after a decade of just protecting him and keeping him away…
      and to keep joyful about it… with frankly you sound very joyful, and I love reading that, thank you! x Angela

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  5. Wow. We have the same mother, and I am thin and incredibly fit with washboard abs. Funny, but not. I appreciate and celebrate your perspective on holding a model of self-love and strong boundary in front of your children to not take on your mother’s crap. After a lifetime of emotional abuse I still find being around my mother challenging. I still have plenty of messages and insecurities in my head that I am fat (that’s all I heard for 20yrs) despite it being far from the truth, ever. And I know now those voices are not true. I don’t behave as if they are and I don’t give them the microphone.
    My son has challenges with anxiety and being a model of self-love and acceptance, no matter what other people think has never been more important. Thank you for your strong example!

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    • Aly. Thank you for commenting, and sharing. I will soon be 50 and only in the last 5-10 years have I realized HOW wrong that kind of badgering can be. When I was a teen, my dad called me “Crisco — fat in the can” — crazy, right? Especially when I never broke 100 lbs. It all worked to keep me in line for a long time. Only when I developed a friendship with a woman who would respond “wow that’s mean” instead of laughing with me did I really get it. And thank you for calling attention to my son (also an anxious little dude). I’d been focused on ‘kids’ or ‘daughter’ but you’re right, he’s probably the one that most needs to see and understand self love. Oh thank you for reading, and thanks so much for commenting. xx Angela

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