Find me one American mother who doesn’t want to tweak something about her body, and I’ll pay you $100.
We want to lose the baby fat, trim the saddle bags, or rid our arms of their jiggle. Gone are the days when we could simply have babies and stroll them around the neighborhood for our daily exercise. No, no. We need gym memberships, yoga studios, and a fancy pair of running shoes, or at least enough money for a little nip and tuck from a good plastic surgeon.
We need to be in shape, toned, and looking younger than our natural age because, well, we’re American. And if we’re not actively engaged in improving our body shape, we should at least be feeling guilty because we aren’t.
I have some great news for you, Mom. As far as you kids are concerned, they couldn’t care less about your body shape. What seventh grade boy wants his mom to be hot? When he’s in kindergarten, he barely notices your hair color and by high school he’s trying to deny the fact that you are even a woman. As far as he’s concerned, you can wear a tent every day.
And your daughter? She wants you presentable so that you don’t embarrass her (by wearing skin-tight bicycle shorts or tennis skirts when you pick her up from school), but she wants you to look like a mom—not her best friend. In fact, she really doesn’t want you to wear her jeans when she’s in high school. She wants to be the attractive, cool one. She doesn’t want you looking better than she does. You may take pride in fitting into her jeans, but make no mistake; she doesn’t want you to because she wants the attention. And well she should. Being 18 is her time to shine—not yours.
Second, daughters cringe when their moms try to look like them. They tell me that it makes them feel a bit creepy. Could it be that they want a fashion-generation gap? Yup. But our kid’s desire to have us look and act differently from the way we think we should goes much deeper. Here’s what I think it’s really all about.
Our kids see us very differently as moms than we see ourselves. We focus on teaching them manners, getting them to the right school at the right age, finding the right sports and activities for them to do, and that’s fine. But that’s not what they want from us. I know because for the past twenty-five years kids have been telling me what they love about their moms.
Kids never say things like, “My mom made sure that I went to pre-K instead of Kindergarten when I was five” or “My mom signed me up for soccer and gymnastics and gets me there on time; what a good mom she is.” Nope. That’s not what they tell me about you.
When I ask kids to tell me about you, they describe your smile, the way you smell, the taste of your food, or what it feels like when you stop cooking and sit with them at the table to help with homework. And as far as your weight? Here’s the best news of all.
I have had numerous kids tell me that they love it when you give them a hug out of the blue. But there’s more and you need to hear this. Kids don’t like hugging bones! One boy told me that the reason he loves hugging his mom so much is because she’s “squishy” and that, he said, feels really, really good.
“When my mom gives me a bear hug, I kind of get lost,” he told me. “She’s soft and squishy, and when she hugs me, I feel that life’s OK.”
I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to want to feel good when I hug them more than I want tight abs or taught arms. After all, what’s more important to us moms than making our kids feel that life is safe when they get a hug from us?
Next week, find out another thing your kids love about you—that you may find hard to believe.