Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Parental angst

Apologies for leaving you all hanging.  It's been a couple very strained weeks with barely a moment to spare.

Not that it will get any better in the short term.  The holidays are officially upon us, and while I'm more than amply prepared with gifts purchased and decorations up, December is going to be all about execution.  Gifts will be wrapped mere moments before they are delivered all month long no doubt.

The snow is flying here, and it has been already colder than we got all of last year.  I'm actually watching the snow whip across my office window as I write.  It's chilly, and dark and dismal, and I am already wishing it were spring.  I do not want to deal with winter at all this year.  It likely has something to do with having to clear off my car to take my daughter to preschool in the mornings.  But I digress.

Other things that are triggering some anxiety for me recently are the fact that my child is having issues with a bully at her preschool, and I'm so hopping mad about it, I could spit nails and be sent to jail.  I can not believe I'm dealing with this already - my daughter is only 2 and a half!  It makes me want to quit my job and do things the way I know they should be done - but we know how that goes.

But I've also finally gotten the written notice of the orientation session at the hospital that will begin my journey through bariatric surgery.  I know I've said before how I couldn't believe how long it was going to take, but suddenly, it feels like it's all going so fast, and I'm getting terrified.

Today I went to see my doctor to get the requisitions for all the surgical work ups.  And to be honest with you, I suddenly realized the angst I've been living for so long relates directly to this thing that happens when you become a parent.  Some people call it guilt.  Others may call it a noose.  I don't know what's more accurate other than to say, that I've come to recognize that every single thing I say or do is delivering a developmentally critical message to someone I am now fully responsible for.  And this is why working creates such angst for me.  It's also why dieting and this surgery is creating even greater angst than I could have imagined.

One hand says: working shows my daughter a strong and capable way of managing one's life, supporting one's family, and being able to do and have it all.
The other hand says: you weren't my priority and I desperately needed or took more time than you should have had taken from you.

One hand says: dieting and getting healthy shows my daughter the value of eating healthy and exercise.  Shows her that making herself a priority is important to living a long, healthy and balanced life.
The other hand says: dieting and going to extreme measures to achieve something called "health" is self abuse, lack of self worth, and demonstrates a lack of ability to accept all of one's self.

One hand says that going to an extreme measure like having bariatric surgery should prove how much I love myself and more than that, my child for making such extreme sacrifices just for the opportunity to spend more time, more quality time, with my daughter.
The other hand says that it's extreme lack of ability to love myself, and that I'm a failure at every other method of weight management.

And the worst message I could imagine her receiving from any of this is that its even remotely better to over exercise, under eat, or do "whatever it takes" to never gain an ounce of weight (muscle, fat or otherwise).  I managed to catch a 5 minute snippet of the Katie Couric show the other day.  And it happened that the 5 minutes I caught was of a 15 year old girl who's battling back from dire situations related to anorexia.  She explained that it was her mother's dieting, exercise regimen and constant watching of her food intake that triggered her negative body image, and her approach to food and exercise.  She recalled her mother baking an extravagant birthday cake for her 5th birthday and noticing that despite slaving over it for days, that her mother had nary a bite.  Her mother looked healthy, athletic but not over thin and frail.  She looked strong and confident and healthy.  Her mother thought she was teaching her daughter how to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle and how to do things right.

Flip a coin and now that I'm on the precipice of starting this bariatric (the system wants to auto correct that word to "Barbaric") surgical journey, I am realizing that I am either acting on this way too late, or praise God, just at the right time.  With that image in my own head of hearing another girl recall how acutely she was watching her own mother, I recognize how I already struggle to get my child to eat a full meal.  She eats baby bird size portions and can often just graze all day long.  She is underweight for her age and has been since day one.  I've worked overtime trying to make sure I consistently deliver a healthy relationship with food for her, putting my own and my husband's health at risk to ensure she has 100% complete balance at every meal I can give her, and the example of parents who eat what is given to them and try everything on their plate.  But quantity and some varieties of food continues to be an issue with her.  Setting examples, we eat a healthy dinner before anyone gets dessert or treats after supper.  Admittedly, we have far too many treats in this household, and my daughter would quickly forego any meal of any kind to skip right over to our treat portion of any given evening.  So I'm wondering how in the world I'm going to cope when all I can eat, is really as much as she is currently able to eat, and that there will suddenly be things that my body can't digest or metabolize.  And I'm praying to God that it's early enough that it won't impact her relationship with food.

It's times like these when I really do wish I could have some of my teenage angst back.  It pissed a whole lot of people off when I was going through it, but the only one it really impacted was me.  I'd take back a whole dose of my teens to alleviate some of this angst I have today.  

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