Thursday, July 15, 2010

Size, Health, Happiness.


Hallie was pretty much completely average when she was born.  Her due dates were January 5 and/or January 7. (I had two doctors and a midwife during that pregnancy. Yeah, it was in that time of life when we were moving a lot... So I'm just thankful two of the experts agreed with each other or I would have had three due dates. Yikes.)  I went into labor on January 5, and 26 hours later she was born.

Hanna was pretty much completely average when she was born.  Her due date was January 20, and I went into labor with her on January 13.  She was born four hours later.  Hanna weighed a few ounces more than Hallie had, and was an inch or two longer. I am not exactly sure of the details, and I refuse to go check.

I will not go look for the exact same reason that is keeping me from going down there now, even though Hanna had her six month checkup yesterday and I am dying to run downstairs to my files in the basement and see what Hallie had weighed and how tall she had been at six months.  I'm itching to, so badly, but I will not let myself.

When I was a teenager I was skinny.  I was not slender, which is the graceful, beautiful way of saying skinny. I was just an awkward, sort of painful looking skinny.  The only feminine part of my body was my long blonde hair, and it wouldn't even hold a curl.  I wasn't just awkward to look at either, though.  I was simply awkward all over.  Inside, outside, and all around me I was uncomfortable with myself.  My sister, two years younger, was graceful, she was smooth, she was fun and perky and cute.  She had friends, and boys, and sports teams, and teachers who thought she was the greatest student since Socrates had Plato who had Aristotle.  Of course I compared myself to her.  Of course I always came up short.  Now, I emphasize here that this comparison was all in my own head. I don't recall anyone else comparing her to me in my presence (I am sure it happened, just not that I ever overheard) I don't remember my parents ever expressing any wish that I be more like her, or anything like that.  But oh, how I longed to be like her.

That's why it is hard for me now, with Hanna and Hallie.  Hallie (as you know from previous posts, perhaps) is small for her age.  So small that I used to worry, and anx, and stress, and freak out about it a little (a lot).  She wouldn't eat, and she never gains weight, or seems to grow any taller.  She still fits in the summer clothes she wore last year.  She fits in a lot of the clothes Hanna is wearing now.  The doctor tells me she is very healthy. 

Hanna is growing well.  She is just a little taller on the growth chart than her weight, which the doctors tell me is a good thing.  She is much taller than average.  The doctor tells me she's also very healthy.  I had previously vowed to let health be enough, when I was only worrying about Hallie.  I had solemnly declared that I would no longer worry about her size, as long as she was still healthy.  I had thought that I would like to do the same thing with Hanna.  It's not enough.

I need to not worry about how much they weigh in comparison to each other.  I need to not worry about what "age" the number on their clothes say they should be.  I need to not try to force Hallie to have a little more yogurt, and Hanna a little less sweet potatoes to try and force them to stay even with each other.  I need to stop, take a deep breath, and let them eat what they want.  It's their bellies.

But I also need to take it one step further.  You see I had already decided that I would try not to let size bother me.  Now I am going to try not to even worry about health.  Whoa, let me explain. It's great that they are healthy, and I hope they always are.  But what if they aren't? What if I lose their health too, to disease, or accident, or as will surely happen because we live in this imperfect world: AGE.  They will someday be unhealthy.  Limbs that are strong now will be weak.  Organs that function just fine today will someday get tired.

My new goal is to not even rest all my hopes and dreams as a happy mother on their health.  It is to place it on their happiness.  Do they laugh?  Do they run and jump and explore this beautiful world?  Do they use their arms to give hugs and and their hands to share toys?  Will they grow up to be the kind of girls that look at other people and see not size, or even health, but see other people as souls searching for happiness?  That's the kind of women I want my girls to be.

And that's why I am NOT going downstairs to check and see how Hallie compared to Hanna at this age.  It doesn't matter.  She gave her sister a big hug and a kiss as we left the doctor's office yesterday. And that's what matters. 


(Just for the record, my sister grew up to be a completely beautiful woman, and while I like to think that I am like her in a lot of ways, it's ok with me now if I'm not like her in every way.  Cuz I'm kind of nice myself.)

11 comments:

  1. Yes, you are "kinda nice yourself." You silly girl. I hate comparing too. It is another reason I hope this baby is a girl; far less comparing with opposite genders! You are doing a great job raising your girls, and they will both be happy and healthy for many years to come.

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  2. I totally know what you mean about having a child that won't eat and never seems to grow. Owen is also in the same clothes he wore last year. It is hard for me to find pants that wont fall off. But like you said he is healthy and I like to think very happy. I totally agree with your post and enjoyed reading it. You and I are very similar it seems. I can relate to you in many ways.

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  3. Great post! I've been looking at your blog since I first commented a couple of weeks ago. It's a good one. I would love to consider your blog for our Best of the Blogs list over at The Power of Moms, if you're interested... Email me at tiffany@powerofmoms.com for some information. Have a great day.

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  4. I think having twins has forced me to take a stand on comparing early. Nothing irks me more to hear someone who has watched my boys for a few minutes start comparing them. "Oh, he must be the talker." "Oh, he's more active than the other." "Oh, this one is the little firecracker."

    I think one thing about it that bothers me is they make these snap judgments based on one interaction. Right now the boys don't understand these comments, but someday they will. I don't want people's limited perceptions of them tainting who they believe themselves to be. I guess that can happy to any one really, but people seem more likely to comment on the difference in twins out loud. If that makes sense.

    The other thing that gets me is that the observations are usually wrong. I spend a lot of time with them and can tell you that they both talk, both are active, and both are firecrackers...(or not firecrackers).

    And the third thing that gets me is why compare at all? There's this weird need to compare siblings where friends may not be compared in a similar way. Somehow I have managed to refuse to compare them.

    And this is a long comment, but I think trying to judge success as a mother is a slippery slope. Even basing your ideas on success on how happy they are can cause trouble. Right now my boys are teething and rarely happy. I've had to readjust my ideas of success over the past few weeks. Ha ha. *sigh.

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  5. Ames, there have been many, many times in my life when I have looked at how you act and react and have wanted to be more like you. I am who I am today because of your example. You turned out way more than kind of nice. I love you!

    And I think you were equally beautiful, talented, intelligent, etc. I just think that I gained confidence a little quicker than you did. But once you did, boy look out! You were on fire. ;)

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  6. And haha call me a bad mom, but Jill has been compared to Hallie her whole life. ;) I like to think that I compare without judging. Like it doesn't matter which one is taller or shorter, heavier or lighter, walked earlier or slower, etc. It's just impossible for me to forget how the other one was, so the comparison occurs. I mean I wouldn't be short, smart, and fun if I weren't compared to the possibility of being tall, dumb, and boring. Opposites must exist, or adjectives could never be used. ;)

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  7. I guess the important thing is, and this may be even to obvious for me to even need to say, is that while comparisons occur, they should not form the basis of one's
    self worth. That's what I mean to say.

    But good luck with that. That's utopia speaking. ;)

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  8. I think that comparing any child under 4 years old is just a fun way to waste time. I was a huge child, and now am completely normal. Though, my favorite things to compare are things like the following. How fast do they get me tired when playing with them? If I am on the computer how fast will they come over to turn it off or bang on the key board? If I give them candy will they whine for 15 minutes for a second piece or half an hour? Can I finally succeed in teaching a child to say garbanzo bean before dada or mama.

    That has so far been a failure...

    :)

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  10. I agree with all your thoughts on the issues with comparing; and confess to one small... Well, one of my favorite topics with your Mom is talking about the strengths and "challenges" of our children and grandchildren and in so doing we thrill at each of your strengths and we fuss and fret about where you struggle. We love to reminisce about how each of you handled or didn't handle different situations and simply love the comparing. We treasure the diversity of all of you.

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  11. Amy you did a lot of hard work in this post. Work that I still need to do for myself. A therapist would say that you were becoming differentiated and learning more about unconditional acceptance (accepting your children not because they are healthy but just for who they are etc...and accepting yourself too). :)

    And for the record I always thought you were beautiful (still are!) and loved your refreshing quirkiness (still do!)

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