Back in July we were out to dinner celebrating a friends birthday. We were waiting at our table when a middle aged woman notified me that my youngest daughter was too small to be sitting in a highchair. (Keep in mind she’s 10 months old.)
Mmmm. Yea. I’ll spare you my thought’s on that one.
I half heartedly smiled and went about my business. As we are leaving the same woman approaches us again, except now she is inquiring about, “the other little girl we had with us.” She first asked if she too belonged to me, and then referenced, “how fat she was.” When I said yes she said, “I was wondering if she was and how in the world they are related.” I wanted to reach over and slap her face.
Yea, I just said that. And yet I just gave another half hearted smile.
We walked to the car and I could barely make it inside before I broke down. You see, that “fat little girl” is my child. The same child that had blood work drawn 10 times to figure out why she wouldn’t gain. The same child that weighed twelve pounds at eleven months old, and who I thought would never get out of six month clothes. The same child I had to stop breast feeding because “it must have been my milk.” The same child that had to see a specialist. I look at her and am so proud of how far she has come. She eats so well, and FINALLY has put on weight. The weight that over half of the people we see comment on. And that little girl that was, “too small to be sitting in a high chair”.. is going through the exact same thing.
I carry the weight of the world on my shoulder’s. I truly feel responsible, and yet there is nothing I can do to fix it. At six months the second time around, I was told yet again to stop breastfeeding. I tried everything. I ate lactation cookies; I was glued to a pump for hours at a time. I took all the supplements and ate all those special foods. The more I tried the worse it got. I wasn’t giving her what she needed. My heart broke walking into the store to buy a container of formula. Simply because the choice was stolen from me. I didn’t get to choose how I wanted to feed her, I felt like my hands were tied. Almost 4 months later she has gained maybe a pound. Weighing in at whopping 13 pounds. As her mother I grieve for her, and I am worried about it. The comments that are made carry ten times the weight they should.
I’d love to be able to to tell you this was the first time, or maybe the second. This happens every. single. day. Just this morning I was waiting in line at Starbucks and a sweet little man asked me about my “four or five month old.” Yet again, another reminder that she’s small. Did he mean anything ugly? Absolutely not. The reminders just break my heart. Each time I dress her, I see her ribs. I know the sizes of her diapers and her clothes. I hear the comments from our families. I stay up worrying about this every single night.
You will never know of the battles the people you meet are facing. The interal struggles they are fighting to get through. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, being a mother is the best but hardest thing I have ever done. From the overwhelming advice from all of the experts that I see in passing, to society shoving all the do’s and don’ts down my throat.
To the women that are fighting a battle for your children and that are carrying the weight from a circumstance that you cannot change.
Chin up, mama.
Then next time you are faced with one of these circumstances, give them a kind smile. But always remember, you are doing a job that cannot be replaced. Your roll is so very important. The circumstances are only circumstances and the love that you are instilling in your children is irreplaceable. According to the experts, you will never be doing right. The best thing about it is that you are giving it your all.
Sterling Kate: 10 months to 2 years
“Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting so kind of battle.”—J.M. Barry