There’s a box that sits in the corner of my bathroom gathering dust & dog hair tumbleweeds. Sometimes fully exposed, often times poking out from a pile of wet towels and dirty clothes. Such a peculiar & meaningless home for an object that I allow to dictate my self worth.
This box spews numbers out at me. Numbers I don’t want to see & never dare to speak out loud. These numbers have changed so much over the last three years. They’ve been through a wedding, a first Christmas as a newlywed couple, two pregnancies, post-partum depression and job loss.
Most times I dare step on the box I’m left with disappointment & embarrassment. If only I hadn’t eaten that piece of pie…. I really need to stop drinking wine….. Salads for lunch every day isn’t so bad.
I think about my wedding and how great I felt I looked. I wish I could get that damn box to tell me that number again. But then I truly think about it and I wasn’t happy with that number back then. Come to think of it… I don’t remember ever being happy with that number.
My daughter Madison, 2, joins me in the bathroom.
“Mommy, mommy!” she exclaims. “Can I step on the box?”
“Sure, baby you can step on the box.” I tell her as I clear out the scale and let her step on it.
“Three!!! Two!!! Mommy, look! I win! A number THREE and a TWO.”
She squeals with delight and jumps off the scale. So proud of the number she “won” from stepping on the box. She asks to step on the box a few more times and each time she’s more excited about the red numbers that appear before her.
She has no idea what these numbers mean. They don’t define anything. I look at her and I think of the example I am setting for her. Suddenly aware that if she catches too many glimpses of my sighs every time I step on the box that suddenly she may think there is a reason to sigh when she steps on the box.
I don’t want her to ever sigh when she steps on that box.
I want her to be proud of those numbers. They are, after all, a prize she won. A prize for all four months we struggled to get through breastfeeding. A prize for the organic fruits and vegetables I carefully picked out, cooked and pureed for her as a growing infant. A prize for the yogurts we share together on weekday mornings as we talk about our dreams. A prize for the first time she went head first into a 1st birthday cupcake. They are a prize for family dinners where we sing songs, talk about our days and soak each other in. They represent family ice cream nights and large bowls of fruit salad in the summers.
That number represents the nourishment for the life that we want her to lead happily.
Do I want it to be made up completely of junk food and no worries? Of course not. But I want it to be filled with healthy choices and deliberate indulgences in the things that make life so enjoyable…. like an extra scoop of sprinkles when we go out for a special treat.
What they don’t do is define who she is or who she will become. They do not make her a better or worse person and they should not be a source of disappointment or embarrassment.
I can’t promise I will stop sighing every time I step on the scale but I can promise I will try to start living my life more through my daughter’s eyes. They are so full of optimism and pure joy.
This body that I wince at & pinch through the mirror gave life to that optimism and pure joy. The least I can do is honor that by teaching her what is important… starting with that box.