by: Breanna Bedor
My dearest Grace:
A few days ago I walked by you with a basket full of laundry and you didn’t notice me at first. I silently watched as you wrapped a very long tape measure around your little waist. At first I was shocked – what would possess you to want to do this? Were you just desiring to learn more about all things metric and would I have to do some summer tutoring? If only it were that simple. No – you were measuring because you have seen me measure once or twice. You’ve seen me sweat in front of the television and joined me as I jumped, lifted and squatted my way to a healthier me. You’ve seen me bring a few babies into this world and watched as I had moments of utter fatigue that brought me to tears. You’ve seen me drink enough water over the past few months to fill a small lake and you’ve seen me measure progress.
When I asked you why you were measuring you said it was because you wanted to be like me. Let me tell you who your mama is: I am more than my waistline. I am your mother. I am your friend. I am your greatest fan and I am your biggest advocate. I am the one who will love you unconditionally no matter what size your waist is, no matter how many times you mess up (because trust me – we all mess up), and no matter what career path you choose. I am also a wife. I am a high school teacher. I am a believer. I am a daughter. I am a sister. There are many things that make me who I am.
Your mama has had five babies and knows what a toll that has taken on her body.
I have stretch marks that reach too far north and breasts that drop too far south but I love my body. It gave me you.
The example that I am setting for you is not one that involves a scale or an obsession. The example is one of balance and moderation. We’ve discussed this and you seem to understand, but there will be times when society or media will make you feel “less than” and at these times I want you to read these words – your mama’s words – written to you with deep love and an attempt at wisdom.
You are beautiful. But beauty is not found in the waist or the legs or even the eyes. It is in the soul. The essence of you. If your heart is beautiful and your soul is beautiful, it is then and only then that you are beautiful. My dear Grace: you are beautiful.
Healthy eating and daily exercise help your mama to have the energy to care for five children. When I die I want you to know I did everything in my power to stay. My greatest wish is to see you grow up and be healthy and happy. My own mother didn’t get to see her children as adults but I hope to and that is why I measure physical progress. I don’t want to be thin – five kids gave me great curves – but I do want to be fit, energetic and strong. I need to be able to run without panting, breathe without gasping and jump without falling. I’m getting there slowly but being healthy is a constant battle. It’s so easy to turn a blind eye and hide our heads in the sand. It’s easy to veg in front of the tv and say “I’ll do it tomorrow.” It’s easy to be complacent. My advice to you Grace is to find your balance, to practice moderation and to never be complacent in any area of your life. Your body is your vessel and if you treat it well, it will treat you well. We either fight for our health while we are still healthy or we fight for our health when we are ill. I have chosen the former.
There is no need for you to measure anything at your young age except your happiness and the state of your heart. Measure that.
You say you want to be like me and I’m honoured but I want you to always strive to be the very best version of YOU.
Breanna Bedor has Bachelor’s Degrees in English Literature and Education. She teaches high school and lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and their five “spirited” kids. Breanna is working on writing her first book and she’s also training for a marathon.
This blog post was originally published 2015, and used with permission.