The Weight of Parenthood

I came across and old photo of my son. It reminded me of some “heavy” criticism that I received while he was growing up. Parents are a particularly susceptible group when it comes to criticism , in general, but I had my reasons and here’s my story:

My son was a difficult child from the start.(Actually, three weeks before he was born, he kicked me hard enough to bruise me internally.) They call it ADD but I am aware that many folks use that diagnosis as a ball park term for naughty kids too. Anyway, he never seemed to foresee consequences and danger.

It started with a toddler who walked at 9 months old. That boy could literally get burned and go back for more. He’d walk off the end of a dock into a lake. He’d climb to the top of a playground slide and throw his hands up, drop his weight and holler, “Watch this Mommy!”

As he grew, his careless nature did not mature. I still think he may have other emotional disorders. But, in my day, that was considered bunk and he is now 30 years old and therefore was never diagnosed.

There was a time, that he became very “chunky”. Actually, he was quite overweight. This added to teasing at school and compounded every attempt to get his self-esteem lifted but he was alive.

Yes, it was THAT simple. His snacking and sedentary habits were, in my mind, a trade-off for his life.

We lived on a busy street next to a river and railroad tracks. To encourage my son to “go out and play” was too big a risk because I understood his inability to sense danger. Video games kept him happily occupied and he felt successful and proud of his gaming prowess. He had so little to feel proud of himself for. At school, he’d sought negative attention because he was unable to accomplish normal goals in a classroom. He became a chronic “bad boy” and hated school which hated him back. One foot note from a teacher described him as a good kid, at heart, but a trouble maker, just enough, to be disruptive.

Childhood obesity is a real problem in our country. I’m “on board” with kids becoming more active and taking in fewer calories. But I want folks to realize that letting kids go out and play isn’t like it used to be. Child predators and dangers are out there. Parents are busier trying to make ends meet and not available for supervision in many cases. Even healthy foods in large quantities can add weight when kids sit around. My son visited the refrigerator as an activity. We had yogurt. grapes, whole wheat bread and he ate them all. To this day, he will not eat a fatty piece of meat and chicken is his favorite meat.

Well, there I go explaining again. I heard many comments, secondhand sometimes, they all came down to,”Why did she allow him to get fat?”. (BTW-He is a trim and fit adult now.)

My answer…because I loved him, that’s why.

Next time you feel like criticizing an obviously attentive parent. Remember this post, and, please, keep it to yourself. They just may have their own reasons. 🙂

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3 thoughts on “The Weight of Parenthood

  1. Secretly, he was preparing you for the next thirty years of caring for children. My older daughter was also rather heavy as a child, and unfortunately, she is even heavier now, though she tries to eat healthier foods, I think she is sort of addicted to chocolate, as I have seen her secretly buy it, and hide it away. She now lives in NY, and I hope she has been able to get help for her extreme obesity.

    I love this article, as you are always trying to help others. And,I think you are doing admirably.

  2. I liked how you described your parenting options.

    I had a friend who confessed that she used to be very judgmental toward other parents. She had one child who was calm and well-behaved, and my friend just assumed that her daughter was so well-behaved because she was such a great mom. 😀 But then she had a second child who was the wild, exploring type. The mother would be traveling across town on the bus with her two kids in tow while reading a book, and out of the blue the bus driver would be yelling, “Hey, Lady! Tell your kid not to hang out of the bus window!” … which was completely mortifying to her, though she laughed about it later. However she had to conclude that a style of parenting that seemed to work wonders for one child could be a disaster when applied to another child with a vastly different temperament. It’s all about adapting.

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