"Mama, you look like you might have another baby in your belly!" Claire said, smiling from ear to ear.
"Claire!" BJ said, "That wasn't very nice!"
Claire burst into tears. I took a deep breath.
"Hey, c'mere," I said wrapping my arms around her, "We think pregnant bellies are beautiful, don't we honey?"
"And you didn't mean to hurt mommy's feelings, right?"
"But Daddy and I want you to understand that other people might not know that you mean that as a compliment to make someone feel good. So in the future if you think someone looks like she might have a baby in her belly, it's important that you just tell her that she's beautiful, ok? Some people don't think that heavy bodies are beautiful, and they might be hurt if you told them you think they might be pregnant, because pregnant bellies are heavy. Do you understand?"
She nodded again.
"But you and I, we know that Mommy's body is beautiful, right? You think so, and Daddy thinks so, and Mommy thinks so, and that's all that matters!"
I am working very hard at not transmitting my body-image issues to my kids. I want to teach them to respect bodies of all shapes and sizes. I'm trying to teach them that they should eat healthy foods and exercise and limit treats not to stay "skinny" but so that they can be strong and healthy for a long time.
It is so important to see the innocence in the things our kids say to us. I might have so easily been insulted and angry, or hurt and tearful, and I would have turned my daughter's compliment into something ugly. If I hadn't stopped to take a breath before I responded, what message would I have sent her about her own body?