Katrina and Mary Claire

I lost it this week. Like, really lost it.

Mary Claire and I ditched the boys and went shopping because we both needed a few things for Spring Break — flip-flops, t-shirts, shorts. The boys needed some new duds, too, but they trusted us to pick them out.  They’d have rather chewed their own arms off than accompany us on a shopping excursion — especially one that included bras.

We had fun, my girl and I. We loaded ourselves up with a variety of potential outfits.

“Don’t let me pick out anything that’s too Mom-ish,” I said.

“But you ARE a Mom,” Mary Claire replied.

“Yes, but I don’t want to LOOK like a Mom,” I said.

“It might be a little too late for that,” she countered.

It was a fun afternoon together. We laughed and talked and giggled at Justin Bieber’s new fragrance line.

And then we hit the dressing room.

There’s something about a dressing room that illuminates every single bodily flaw — real or imagined. The lighting? The confined space? The expectation that new clothes will make a body look better?

I didn’t even finish trying on all my selections before I jumped back into the safety of my long sweater — the one that hides as much as humanly possible. And I was even embarrassed by the outfit I arrived in, eager to leave for the safety and anonymity of home and an old sweatshirt.

“Can I get all of these things?” Mary Claire asked, emerging from her room with an armful of clothes.

“Yes, Honey, if you need them, get them.”

“Thanks, Mom!” she gushed. “What are you getting?”

“Nothing,” I said, blinking back tears. I was ashamed of my body, disappointed in the weight I’ve re-gained. I stood in that dressing room looking at all my imperfections and thinking… I’ve failed again. I cannot keep my weight down. I cannot sustain a healthy lifestyle.

“Nothing at all?” Mary Claire asked. “What about that cute dress you found?”

“I’m getting this shirt,” I said, holding up a black v-neck tee.

“Another black shirt?” she said. “Don’t you have, like ten of those? Why don’t you get something more colorful? You look so pretty in bright colors.”

And that’s when I lost it. Right there in the dressing room, I cried in front of my young, impressionable teen.

“Black hides more,” I said. “And I feel like I need to hide right now. I’m just so unhappy with my body.”

There I stood, breaking every parenting rule that involves 13-year-old girls and healthy body image. I should have been celebrating WHO I am, not WHAT I look like. I should have been reminding her that we are not our bodies, but our hearts and souls and minds.

But all I could feel in that moment was failure. Real, painful, human failure.

“I don’t like it when you say things like that about yourself,” she said. “You’re so mean to yourself sometimes. You would never say those things to us. Why do you say them about yourself?”

Why, indeed? That’s the million dollar question.

Parenting is imperfect and flawed. That’s probably because it’s done by human beings who are imperfect and flawed. I will not always say or do the “right” things.

But here’s what I will do: When I fall short, I will admit those failures with honesty and authenticity. I will not hide the fact that I struggle, that I have some demons that continue to rear their persistent heads, that feelings — even the negative, ugly, and self-deprecating ones — are worth examining and experiencing. I will pick myself up, dust myself off, and try again. I will teach my kids that falling is okay. Falling is human and universal. It’s getting back up that’s important. Again and again and again.

Today, I’ve got a 6-mile wog on my agenda. And I’ve picked a bright, floral scarf to wear to dinner. My daughter likes it when I wear bright colors.

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20 Responses

  1. Your daughter sounds like a wise, sensitive, mature girl. You must be doing something right. Hang in there!

  2. Every time I read your words this particular line from my book comes to mind: “When we see each other’s scars, we love each other more.” With every open, honest, soul-baring word you write from your heart, I adore you more.

    Your daughter is very compassionate and wise. I know where it comes from. You are one of the wisest, most compassionate people I know. I thank my lucky stars everyday that you are my friend. Boy, I sure would love to sit with you in the sunshine today. Or take a 6 mile wog with you.

  3. I love your raw, searing honesty, Katrina. Regardless of the issues, we are so hard on ourselves and, yet, we come back swinging! Thank you for, once again, focusing my attention on the inevitable “falls” and the heroic effort to try again. Yes!!!

  4. This post and your previous regarding “Enough” are words I could have written. I so empathize with what you are going through, and I too have a 13 year old impressionable daughter who I am trying to get to love her body and the skin she is in and accept her flaws, even though I myself can’t do the same for myself. Giving advice is easier than taking it, but like you, I continue to try. I love the fact that you admit that yes, our daughters also need to see that feeling inadequate comes with the terrirtory too, and it is OK to feel and explore those emotions, as long as we don’t let them dictate our lives. We have to keep trying! Thank you for your words, I know I am not alone.

  5. Your daughter is amazing! You are blessed to have her. We are our harshest critics. I dislike most of my clothes, and when I shop, I dislike most of the clothes I try on. I end up wearing old clothes that are comfortable.

  6. Sweet Katrina, you are too hard on yourself. Listen to your child. The key to staying on it is not looking at a mirror or a scale and wishing to be someone else, You’ll never like that person, be you. Instead, it’s wanting everything you do to enhance your health, and remember that health is not defined on a scale, truly. Lots of size 4 people are super unhealthy. There are lotsa size 12 people that are very healthy. Think about your choices as treating yourself to health and energy,…. and WOG and put highest quality foods in the body. Every healthy choice in diet and exercise is a deposit in your health account, enough good deposits provides guilt free splurging every once in a while, but not so someone can judge your bikini worthiness, but so you feel more like the wonderful person you already are. You are amazing, talented and beautiful, every day. Love you girl! I am very proud of you, and I know you motivate, inspire and comfort people in ways you’ll probably never have the privilege to know. Never shed a tear about the person you are, because that person is AWESOME.

  7. It sounds like you are blessed with a wonderful, smart daughter, Katrina. She sounds like my girls when, at times, I’d talk down about myself. Even though we make mistakes, we’re doing something right when our girls can remind and teach us. Have a wonderful day, and enjoy your wog and scarf!

  8. Katrina, I too have had that terrible experience in the dreaded dressing room, only I was alone with my tears. How I wish I had a wise wonderful daughter such as yours. I was blessed with boys, who I hope will give me daughters in law to shop with someday. 😉 Do you know how your daughter got to be so wonderful? It’s because of you! Our children do not fall too far from the proverbial tree, so you’re doing good! Try not to beat yourself up too much.

  9. I can’t begin to tell you how much I can relate. And your daughter sounds like an older version of mine. I read this post earlier today, teared up a bit and ended up going on a 3 mile walk after you mentioned your 6 mile wog.

  10. I loved this post. thank you for being so real, Katrina. I have lived this nightmare repeatedly throughout my life. I admire your daughter’s wisdom!

  11. Katrina,
    I saw “pshaw!” to the shoulds you threw at yourself…”parenting rules?” Pshaw!
    You were honest with your wise 13-yr-old daughter about how you were feeling. That means SO MUCH more than sticking to any rules. I believe that most young girls are sensitive enough and perceptive enough to know when a parent is struggling. I think that your daughter’s statement that you would never treat them like that is BANG on and is the message that the Universe is sending you: “Treat yourself in the same loving way you would your children because you deserve to be treated with love and respect.” So watch that self-talk darlin’ and treat my friend Katrina more lovingly because she deserves it. 😉

  12. Lucky to have such a supportive daughter! This winter can be blamed for extra weight, I hear you for sure. Don’t need to be so hard on yourself– perhaps good that your daughter heard your feelings. And nothing wrong with black t-shirts, can never have too many!

  13. I love this post and your words could be spoken by every women no matter their size because we all fail! Thank you for your authenticity I am a huge believer in that. Even when I have wanted to hide what is going on in my head God allows something in our lives so my kids are able to see the real picture of me…very humbling and yet so good to teach them wisdom. Your 13 year old sounds just like mine and I am thankful often for her voice of loving truth. Keep wogging and posting realness.

  14. Here is my mantra to this, “Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start all over again.” Then you’re teaching your daughter that we can fall, but we will rise again. I know, because I’ve been exactly where you are!! I feel you.

  15. I have been right in that same dressing room. Weight has been an issue I have struggled with since my teens. I managed to come out of my eating disorder but I’ve gone the other way, afraid it will take control again so I avoid the “diet” word. I worried in raising my daughter because I didn’t want to contribute to the “weight monster” we all seem to have in our heads. She had with a health issue & a certain medicine put pounds on her that she could do nothing about; watching her struggle with that & the hurtful things that some said was so hard. She survived it & once that medicine was no longer needed, the athletic girl she had been came charging back. My mother was hyper critical of my weight issues & I was determined to NOT do that to my daughter. She watches me fret about myself & is always encouraging…like your sweet girl. Do what you can each day & celebrate WHO you are…and that you have an amazing daughter who is a big part of you.

  16. It can be tough to ignore and call out the lies planted inside of us, not pretty enough, not thin enough, not cool enough…my mind easily slides into that mode. It’s awesome that you are willing to share with your daughter when you falter. We all mess up and that’s what makes us human. Thanks for being vulnerable!

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