Jennifer: I have always been a bit overweight, and for most of my adult life I have exercised daily. But for many years I obsessed about it. I would make my day and my family’s day revolve around my workout.
I would guess that my obsession probably was a big turnoff to Sophie. These days I try to be more relaxed and flexible about my schedule, and I try to talk about it in terms of how good working out makes me feel, not its effect on my weight.
Sophie: My mom used to take time away from my family to “jump around,” as my dad liked to say. I didn’t understand why she did it. No matter how long she spent on the treadmill, she’d stand in the kitchen and clutch her stomach and say she was pudgy.
I didn’t like this phenomenon, so I didn’t have anything to do with it. These days I try to get regular physical activity. I could do more, but I am doing it because I want to.
Jennifer: Yoga remains a bone of contention. The first classes I ever took were with Sophie, when she was about 10. I loved it from the first downward-facing dog and have made it a central part of my life.
But it made her feel self-conscious and uncomfortable, and she has avoided it. I keep hoping that when she goes off to college she’ll take it up. Yoga has done so much for me, and I want that for her, too.
Sophie: Yoga was once “my” thing. I went to every class while my mom opted out. I had a yoga birthday party. She says she loved it immediately, but it took some time for her. Once she made it “her” thing, I stopped doing it. I found that running helped me more than stretching in a yoga class.
Jennifer: I did not remember that yoga “belonged” to Sophie first, and it makes me feel terrible to think I took that from her.
Jennifer: I get up at 6 a.m. every school day and stay up until 10 or 11 p.m. I sleep in on weekends if I can. My schedule rarely allows for a daytime nap.
Sophie: I get up at 6:12 on the dot every school day. I go to bed around midnight or 1 a.m. I am sleep-deprived by choice. I stay up to talk to my boyfriend, who goes to another school and whose schedule is insane.
Being a senior in high school, I have less homework, and track practice has wound down. I come home and take a nap. My mom is not happy with this. When I’m in college and can set my own schedule, this will almost definitely change. Don’t worry, Mom!
Jennifer: I’d be curious to see how Soph’s sleep schedule pans out once she’s in college. But I probably won’t know much about it, which may be for the best.
Jennifer: If there’s one area where I feel I’ve done poorly as a mom, it’s never having broken my habit of talking about weight, diet and appearance.
I know I used to talk in front of Sophie about how big my thighs are or how hard it was to get rid of the roll of fat around my middle. I’d often do it in a humorous or self-deprecating way. But that doesn’t change the fact that my daughter has grown up with a mother who has long measured a good bit of her self-worth by the size of her thighs.
Now that she’s older, we’ve talked about this. I work hard to not comment on weight or waistlines. But it’s ingrained in me. Maybe Sophie will be the one to break that chain.
Sophie: I have been trying to be more accepting of other people throughout high school. I branched out socially, especially this year, and I noticed that other people don’t seem to focus on fat talk as much as my family does. I am not particularly happy with how I look, but I want other people to love themselves.
Following my mom’s example is a lot like wearing matching mother-daughter clothes. You don’t notice it when you’re little. Then you think it’s cool when you realize you’re matching your mom. The next step for me, though, was understanding that I didn’t want to match my mom, love her though I do.
I see the joy my mom feels from being healthy. I’ve found the same thing, but I had to do it on my own.
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