It’s a funny thing, becoming someone’s parent. You start to think about all kinds of things that you probably never thought about before. And if you find they become thoughts you think a lot, they become Worries.
When I found out I was becoming a Mom, I didn’t have a lot of Worries. Really, I just had one. As someone who has battled her weight for all of her remembered life (really, I was about 7 or 8 when I started gaining; and I know why that happened too, but we’re not talking about that today) I knew I did not want to raise an overweight child.
No one actually wants that, I’m sure. Many people think about it I’m certain. Some people become actual Worriers about it. I? I became obsessed with this thought. Every day we talk about food in our house. When Connor was 3 or 4 we started talking about the food guide and how many fruits & vegetables we need to make sure we have in a day. If he asks for a treat, we talk about what’s been eaten so far today, and what’s to come, and make a decision based on these facts. My kids are very informed about healthy eating and unhealthy eating. My intention is to ensure that food does not become a crutch (because man-o-man am I an emotional eater), nor something forbidden (because I’ve also been a horrific closet eater). I want my children to have a healthy relationship with food. And I think we’re doing really well.
Take, for example, a conversation that happened in the car today:
Sam: “Connor, what’s your favourite food?”
Connor: “Wow Sam, that’s a tough question! I can’t pick just one thing…”
Me: “Okay Connor, top 5 – go!”
Connor: “Okay: strawberries, pancakes, bacon, french fries, broccoli.”
Sure – it’s not the healthiest list, but c’mon. The kid’s just turned 8, and on his list of favourite foods are strawberries and broccoli??? That’s a pretty great list, in my opinion.
So imagine my surprise when we went to the pediatrician for his 8-year checkup today and she commented that his weight had “flatlined”…
For the last couple years, Connor has been tracking in 75th percentile for both weight & height. His height stayed in position on the curve (52.5 inches, for those who are interested) but his weight is back at the 50th percentile (64lbs). I say “back at the 50th” because when he was born, he was in the 50th for both height and weight. And for the first 3 months of his life, he was always below that marker.
hmmm… I may have just uncovered why this upsets me so much… ok, I’ll come back to this thought later, because I want to STRESS loudly that the doctor did NOT say that she was worried. She did NOT say that he needs to be fattened up and to start main-lining trans-fats ASAP. She did NOT say that he has an eating disorder and should be checked into a clinic STAT. All she said was, “Huh, his weight seems to have flatlined.” And too, I want to stress emphatically that I am not in dire straits over this comment. I am not headed for a bridge, nor am I looking for a high place to hang my rope from. It’s just sticking with me, is all, and I wanted to try to uncover why that is…
Which, you may recall from the start of the previous paragraph, I think I have.
So here’s my revelation: Connor was very close to starving in his first 5 months of life. He was born a healthy 7lbs 3 oz, and by the time we left the hospital (3 days later) he was down to 6lbs 8oz or something like that. Breast feeding was not going well (it rarely does with the first child, so I’ve since learned), and he was tongue-tied, which I did not know made it almost impossible to latch. I talked to the pediatrician about switching to, or supplementing with, formula but she was not supportive of this. After his 4-month checkup, when he weighed in at less than 11lbs (I can’t remember exactly) I decided to forget her advice and go with my gut: we started formula. When we went back for his next checkup, he was like 16lbs and she was thrilled to see him so big and happy.
So as it turns out, my barometer for how I’m performing as a parent to Connor is totally tied to his weight, and where he sits on the damn curve…
Well, that’s just crazy.
Here’s what I know: I have a kid who is very happy and jovial. He is effective at expressing his emotions, generally in healthy ways. He is reading almost at grade level (which is HUGE since when he started grade 1 last year he really couldn’t read at all), and he excels in math and science. He loves gym, has lots of friends, can ride his bike and he even likes to work in the kitchen with me. He’s a great kid. And I’m a great Mom, 50th percentile be damned.