Thursday, July 12, 2012

Struggling and I Know It

I’m struggling.  I admit it.  Somewhere along the way, after birthing three babies, I never received the Parenting Manual.  You know – the “How To Guide”, the “Mothering 101”, the “Challenges of Raising Girls and Boys (they ARE from Mars!)”.  However, having a 14 year old daughter, an 11 year old son, and a 4 year old daughter……I have hit some bumps along the way; but I feel confident that I am raising stable, happy, and uber-well-loved children.

Let me introduce you to puberty. 


Even if we were given a freshly pressed manual on the how-to-care for the little love bundles we leave the hospital with; well, let me just set you straight (or maybe you already know) – puberty takes everything, and I mean everything, off the table…..there are no-holds-barred when the hormones take up residence in your home.

My 14 year old daughter has been a cake walk.  She hit puberty very early; yet the only challenge I have with her is a couple of days before that monthly visitor.  Within minutes of rearing her nasty, ugly, hormonal rage face on mom, she very quickly retorts with an apology that melts your heart.

H…O…W…E…V…E…R, she has been absolutely ridiculous with her body image; especially these past few weeks of summer.  At first, it saddened me so much that she has such a warped view of her body.  But now, I’m angry!  Angry at her (how can she not see what everyone else sees?); angry at me (have I done this or given her this sense of insecurity about her body image?); and angry at society (are the relentless covers of scantily-clad, inappropriately thinned bags of skin on every magazine cover sending her a subliminal message that perhaps her amazing body is not good enough?)!!

You see, this is the summer of the bikinis.  Yes.  Everyone, and I mean everyone (NOT ME – NOT A SNOWBALL’S CHANCE IN DEVIL’S LAND), is wearing a bikini this year.  My daughter decided she would love to wear one, but she hated how she looked.  Momma Bear was given a mission:  a mission to prove to this child that she is beautiful and can rock a bikini! 

This girl plays hours and hours of soccer every week.  This girl works out several hours a week.  She is STRONG - insanely strong for a 14 year old.  This girl has legs that are so muscular and so powerful….yet; she is hung up on her tummy “flub”.  I have tried to convince her that she is just beautiful; she can’t be stick thin because she will not have the power, the strength, the endurance for the sport that she loves – but I’m mom, what do I know? 

Puberty has morphed her body - from that little kid ball of love, into a young woman with curves – you know:  boobs, hourglass figure, hips and did I mention absolutely beautiful and strong legs?!  My kid has never been in better shape, but yet, her self-esteem - when it comes to how her body looks - has never been lower.  Holy Shish-Ka-Bobs.

I think back to circa 1988, when I was all of 14….and I realize, that perhaps, I was precisely the same way as my daughter.  I was strong, I was physically fit, and I was not a fan of my body.  Why?  Why are we like this?  Is it hormones?  Is it society – the expectations, the “norm”, the perception….?  I’m so confused and honestly, I do not know if I’m handling it right or wrong.  My girl seems to be improving a teeny, tiny, micro-minute-millimeter and now focuses on the Irish/Welsh skin she inherited (“How can a person be THIS white, mom?”) instead of the so called “flub” that she tries to pinch and convince me that I am indeed blind to not see it.

The good news is she’s wearing a bikini.  She has a couple of different styles; and dagnabbit, if she wants more, I will purchase more so that she continues to wear them.  Hopefully, she will see what the rest of us see….an absolutely stunning, physically fit, and confident young woman.

(And next time, I will share with you the wonders of an 11 year old boy in puberty.  If I had a spaceship, I might ship him off to Mars…where I swear he belongs). 

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