Hey Matt, Your Privilege is Showing

Before I even start, I want to thank my friend Anne Theriault of the Belle Jar for her encouragement today and for sending me this article to read when I needed to get away from the other. Though Glennon’s piece is not a response to this article by Matt Walsh, it has said exactly what I feel should be said in response. As I finished reading it, I sighed and thought, “Yes. This.”

Yesterday my Facebook thread lit up with a variety of people sharing Matt Walsh’s article, “If I Can’t Accept You at Your Worst, Then Maybe You Should Stop Being So Horrible”. Based on who posted it, I expected to like it. But I didn’t like it and the more I thought about it the less I liked it.

This article’s basic stance is that if we teach everyone that they are special they will either feel patronized or believe it and become self-serving and horrible. It blames good self-esteem and feeling special for the selfish behaviour that causes problems in marriages and other relationships. Matt Walsh argues that we shouldn’t be praising mediocrity by telling average kids that they are special.

I think that saying we shouldn’t teach our kids that they are special is wrong. I think that saying that we shouldn’t be instilling a sense of self-esteem is wrong. I’m not talking about a blind sense of “everything I do is awesome because I’m awesome and everything is about ME!” narcissism, I’m talking about a child knowing that he or she is important and valuable. We need to empower our kids to know their strengths. To teach them and show them how to use those strengths. And more importantly, we need to teach kids that other kids are just as special and valuable too.

This article says that we should only be giving trophies to those who earn them. We should only be praising those who achieve great success. Unlike this, we could teach kids that everyone is special and THIS could happen (please watch this – it’s only 2 minutes long and it is beautiful):

In this video, high school senior, Noah Van Vooren, has been the water boy of a football team through all of high school. He has down syndrome. He was not a naturally talented athlete. He has never played in a game but has been a valuable member of this team for years. In this, his final home game, his team co-ordinated with the team they are against to let him play and to achieve his first touchdown.

Noah was never the highest scorer. He was never the most talented player on his team. However, his spirit and cheer were always there. He never got discouraged when he wasn’t the best. He IS special. And giving him the game ball was absolutely no kind of wrong. This man deserves a participation trophy (because that’s what those little gold trophies are, a sign of your continued participation) as much or more than anyone else on that team.

Now I know what you’re going to say: this article wasn’t talking about disabled kids, that’s different! But it isn’t. Noah is not special because he has down syndrome. He is special because of his drive and his character. Look at what he was able to do! This is all about his ability.

Some kids are naturally smarter, some naturally talented or gifted in some way. Some have exceptionally supportive families. Some have resources that others do not have. They are not more special, they are more privileged.

Isn’t one of the most important aspects of team sports learning to work as a team and learning that everyone is an important member – that when we work together we are stronger than when we work alone? Then why in that team sport would it make sense to always give all recognition to the highest scorer? What is the child that takes the ball home after every single game going to be taught about the rest of his team mates?

That child is already the best on the team. They are likely a naturally talented player. They have probably had to work hard, however, they probably haven’t had to work as hard as some others have worked just to make the team. Are we to teach them that their privilege is what makes them special? You want to create a narcissist, that’s how you’ll do it.

Perhaps we give out the ball one game to the kid that gets the grand slam then the next game to the kid that was most encouraging to others. See, everyone can be special, everyone can be taught that their specific skill set or what they have been given allows them to be a special and integral member of a team.

If no one is special, there’s no reason to treat anyone well. We can be whatever we want, say whatever we want, and act however we want. Being horrible to someone else doesn’t matter because they aren’t special. However, if everyone is just as special as you, everyone needs to be treated with love, compassion, respect, and grace. Your friends, co-workers, husbands, wives all deserve the best you can offer.

What Matt Walsh seems to have missed is that it’s not about teaching each child “you are the special one” it’s about teaching each child that “every one is special”.


Not helpful strangers

* Life has been pretty busy over the holiday season and into the New Year so far. I have a few carefully composed half-written posts, interestingly enough two of which are about the difference that the kindness of strangers can make – so of course, I’m posting this rant about a not helpful stranger this morning. Maybe I’ll find time to finish up one of the others someday soon…

I have never come so close as I did this morning to giving a stranger a verbal lashing for feeling like it was within her rights to judge my parenting.

She didn’t know me, my child, or the situation at all. She didn’t even see the exchange between him and I that lead to him being upset. She didn’t know why he was crying in the grocery line. But she felt it would be fine to assume and judge me.

The sum up is that my 17 month old non-verbal Vaughn was exhausted and hit nap time right before I finished grocery shopping. I stayed calm and positive and managed to distract him and chatter with him while I finished up, waited in line, checked and paid for our things and was loading them in the cart when he pointed at me in his I want to nurse way. I whispered to him “Sorry buddy, but we’ll be home soon” and landed a kiss on his forehead. He threw his head back and sobbed as if I had plucked out one of his eyes so I offered him a strawberry which he luckily decided to take and start nibbling instead of throwing it across the room and going into full tantrum mode. The lady behind me in line said to him, “Good job, buddy. You’ve learned that if you cry she’ll give you what you want”. I gritted my teeth and kindly replied, “I had just told him no about something else and this seemed like a good compromise”. This should have ended our exchange. She continued on to say “hmmm…yeah, you keep telling yourself that.”

I said nothing.

Thing is, there are so many other things she could have said…things that could have helped a tired mom of a toddler. Things that could have encouraged.

She could have said something simple like, “that looks like a good strawberry” and given him a smile.

She could have given him a little grin and said, “Do you feel better now, buddy?”.

Something like, “wow you must have been pretty hungry” would not have been totally uncalled for.

Perhaps an encouraging glance or a “way to keep your cool, mom”, an “I remember those days”, or a “good save” would have been helpful.

Or, you know, she could have said nothing at all.

Mood-Ring Bra

Today a friend of mine posted about this Microsoft Prototype Product. It is a “smart bra” that has sensors and electronics built right into the bra. I was interested as this has some great medical potential. However, I read the article and found that the whole thing made me pretty uncomfortable. Here they are with this great tech – the ability to build sensors that detect mood, heart rate, breathing patterns – right into a bra that many people need to wear anyways and they are using it to help women identify when they are upset so they won’t be emotional eaters. Of all of the ways this could help someone stay healthy, why is it being used to predict when you might overeat?

My first thought was, why aren’t they using this technology to predict when an asthma attack is going to occur, or for patients of heart disease? Why isn’t this tech being used somehow in the advancement of the research and treatment of anxiety or panic disorders?

And will this even work? Will identifying yourself as anxious or upset or emotional in whatever way that causes you to want to eat a sweet delicious buttery and/or chocolatey cookie actually change whether you eat that cookie? When I’m emotional, the last thing I need is a piece of technology shaming me for my emotions. Perhaps that shaming is going to make me want to eat two cookies. Is the next step adding some negative stimuli or punishment if you actually eat the cookie? (zzzzap) Perhaps send a note to someone else to prevent you from eating? That wouldn’t cause anyone to get emotional at all.

Why does it have to be about dieting and eating? Emotional eating is a symptom, not a cause. I can see how someone might discover this use somewhere down the line, but this product was designed to be used that way. Wouldn’t the ability to detect emotions and mood be a helpful tool during therapy? It could be used to chart mood and emotion in daily life, helping people identify things that are causing them anxiety or heightened emotions. It could help a therapist determine what course of treatment to take to help a patient address the situations that are most challenging for them. It could be used to track emotions to see how a patient is responding to a new medication or a new therapeutic approach. As it is, it’s just the mood ring of bras – shame it doesn’t just change colours.

And while I understand they were trying to build it into something that someone will be wearing day-to-day, this ends up being a very gendered/size specific product. Men generally do not wear a bra; are there no men that could benefit from this product? I have to shop at specialty stores for my bras; would this be produced in a size that would fit me? When there isn’t tech built in, it’s hard to find a bra that fits just right – now am I to feel ashamed that I can’t fit into this fit-making product? Wouldn’t it be so much more useful as a band that you wear around your chest? Making them in a few customizable lengths could make this a product usable by anyone and would cost WAY less to produce and buy. (Note: I’ve since learned that the prototype was a sensor system that attaches to a user’s preexisting bra – doesn’t this seem like a better idea?)

If this were a band instead of a bra, could it also be used to monitor a fetus in a non-invasive way? Could a tiny version be made to monitor for breathing or heart rate irregularities of a sleeping infant? Or measure the emotional state of an awake one? Could it predict heart attacks and track emotions and mood in relation to heart function?

And really, while my husband might appreciate an email letting him know I’m getting upset or anxious and to tread lightly, I’m still not sure that’s the best use for this technology.

Using Your Powers for Good

*the post that I use to explain why I think Maria Kang and others like her in the public eye could be using their platform to help and build by (surprise, surprise!) relating it to something that happened this week with one of my kids.

Maria Kang has yet again fauxpologized for fat-shaming. If you want to read a fairly well balanced article on these latest comments, check out this article by Mary Elizabeth Williams about Maria Kang’s response to a lingerie company that encouraged all women to be proud of their bodies and post selfies of themselves in their lingerie. Her response was, “I was a little peeved because while I feel like it’s ok to love and accept your body, I think that we’re normalizing obesity in our society.” Which on the surface doesn’t seem so offensive…until you think. Believing it’s okay to love and accept your body only rings true if you are not shamed for your body and if you aren’t told to hide your body so that you aren’t normalizing obesity. Love and accept your body – but don’t show anyone else or they might think it’s okay for their body to look like yours!

She talked about her history. She told a story of an unhealthy mother and her personal struggles with eating disorders and weight loss. How sad that she didn’t use that special knowledge to be more compassionate to others who may have the struggles that she or her mother had. How unfortunate that she didn’t channel those hurts and feelings into building up others and helping them become more comfortable in their own bodies.

She said that “No one should be ashamed of who they are, at the same time, in order to desire something greater, you have to – at some level – be uncomfortable with where you are at.” Which really doesn’t sound like loving or accepting your body at all. It sounds painful and sad and certainly doesn’t line up with her statement that “however your body physically manifests in the process of exercising and eating healthy is beautiful. And it doesn’t have to look like mine.” (which is good because my genetics definitely won’t allow for that – and also I would like to add that it’s okay if you don’t value exercising/healthy eating as much as she does). I think it was this statement that struck me this week as I’m figuring out new ways to communicate to my children that people don’t have to look like you to be valuable.

This week my 4-year-old son came home from school and said a statement I was hoping to never hear from any of my children. I am working so hard at instilling this sense of social justice in them, at teaching them to look at a person’s behaviours, choices, and words rather than their appearance. So when he told me, “I don’t like people with brown skin” I felt like I had walked into a wall. We have talked about these important issues so many times; I forgot how impressionable he is to the statements of other children at school. After my initial response of, “GAAAH, YOU CAN’T SAY THINGS LIKE THAT!!!!” and maybe over reacting a little…and after talking about his friends in his class who have brown skin (that he insists are all nice and kind and therefore did not fall under the category of people he doesn’t like – one being one of his favourite playmates) and asking if he had a bad experience (none that he could remember) and asking if he could remember who said that to him in the first place (he told me he didn’t know where he learned that) we settled into a real conversation about appearance. This conversation of course happened right in that horrible time between 4:30-5:00 when everyone is tired and irritable after school but before dinner – which I was naturally trying to make while wrangling 3 small children.

And once I calmed a little and stopped feeling like a complete failure as a mother and human being, I sat on the floor with his jittery little body in my lap and we talked. I asked him if it would be fair for someone to dislike him because his eyes are blue and his hair is brown. No, he replied, that would make him angry and sad. You’re right, I said, it wouldn’t be fair because you don’t choose your eye or hair or skin colour. But you do control your choices and interactions and that’s how we determine who would make a good friend.

And then, on the chance that I hadn’t made my point yet, I related it to Super Heroes. Because really, what’s a conversation with a 4-year-old without talking about Super Heroes? I talked about how Super Heroes love everyone and try to save everyone. I talked about how it doesn’t matter what a person looks like – the colour of their skin, hair or eyes, or the size or shape of their bodies – everyone is valuable and equally worth saving. And then we talked about his Super Power. His Super Power is the power to choose how he talks to and about other people. He can choose to say kind things and to make people feel good about themselves or he can choose to use his power to make people feel bad about themselves. And I made it pretty clear that I wanted him to use his powers to help and encourage.

And I don’t know if I had the exact right approach or said just the right words. I don’t know if I got through. I don’t know how I’m going to help him see that appearance is unimportant compared to choices and kindness.

But I do know one thing. If people like Maria Kang (and many, many others) who have opinions that are heard by many would truly take the stance that “it’s okay to love and accept your body” (and the bodies of others) whether it be your/their colour, shape, or size (without conditions or excuses) I think my job would be a lot easier.


(Also – if you have a story that has helped teach children about acceptance of everyone, please share it. I would welcome storybook ideas or learning about what analogies helped you teach your kids! So far the Super Hero analogy seems to be making sense to him as he was able to explain how he used his powers to encourage today at school…)

Hazel’s Unhealthy Halloween Conclusion

*A little under a month ago, I posted on Facebook about a book that my daughter brought home from her school library. Here’s the conclusion to that whole situation! (spoiler alert: it has a happy ending!)

Right before Halloween (the same week that a woman decided THIS was acceptable and also right around when the Maria Kang Excuse photo came out), my daughter came home from school with a book for us to read. We got part way through the story before we stopped reading. Here is the letter I wrote to her school:


My daughter, K. Schmidt, attends your school. We have had lovely experiences so far at your school and feel very positively about the messages that are being communicated to our children.

Today she came home with a library book entitled, “Hazel’s Healthy Halloween” by Kathryn Meyrick. We were excited to read it as we assumed it would not be all about candy – perhaps some fruits and vegetables as well. We were wrong!

In this book, a witch named Hazel is deemed too fat to fit in a dress for the party she wants to attend. She is sent to “Health Farm” for 6 days. The whole time she is there she completes ridiculous amounts of exercise and each day eats absolutely nothing.  After six days of anorexia and extreme exercise, she’s told, “You’ve won. You’re thin!” She arrives at the party and is greeted and told she’s never looked so lovely before. Then she is told,

“Hazel, you look serene,

Fit to be a fairy queen.

This could be the start

of a fine romance.

May I have the pleasure

of this dance?”

At this point, there is a small footnote that “if this is the end you’ve been waiting for, close the book and read no more.”

It goes on to say that she didn’t go to this trouble to please a man but for the buffet. She proceeds to binge, rip her dress because she’s all fat again and calls it a happy ending.

My husband only read to the line about losing weight before he closed up the book and handed it to me. I read it on my own getting more and more appalled as I read.

There are so many messages in here that are wrong that I don’t even know where to begin. I can’t talk about all of my issues here, but I will address the ones that are the largest.

First of all, anorexia and binge eating are both extremely unhealthy practices. Everything about this book is unhealthy. The messages that we are trying to teach are not about dieting, they are not about trying to achieve a specific shape at all. They are about making healthy food choices most of the time. We’re teaching our children to walk or ride rather than drive. We’re teaching them to build activity into their day in a way that they find fun. We’re teaching them to make choices to make them feel good in their bodies.

Secondly, Hazel is not lovely or worthy of attention when she is big but is lovely and fit to be a queen that is in a romantic relationship when she is thin. What a horrible message to give to small children. What a horrible message to give to anyone. The value of one’s character and the choices they make should determine whether or not they are lovely. A person’s appearance and/or size do not have an impact on their value.  The fact that someone is human is what gives them worth.

Our children are growing up in a culture that has a very narrow definition of beauty. People are shamed for not fitting into this very narrow “ideal”. I want my children to know that they are worth loving no matter what they look like. We are trying to build healthy self-esteem and healthy self-images. We are trying to teach them not to judge people based on their appearance. Books that send messages like the ones contained in this story are undermining everything that we are working towards.

Hopefully this book can be addressed, as I do not believe it lines up with the morals that I see the school striving towards.

Thank you,

Joanna Schmidt


The next day, I returned the letter and the book to the school librarian. I was told that she didn’t have the power to pull the book but to contact the Board Office as there is a Digital Literacy Support Teacher who oversees 28 of the Elementary school libraries in our board. I found the number (after quite the search on the HORRIBLE board website) and called to lodge my complaint.

The woman that I spoke to was wonderful. She was kind and understanding. She told me about the process of getting a book removed but reassured me that I wouldn’t have to do anything further as long as she agreed with me when she read the book (as she would pull it herself – and actually has the ability to remove it from all of the libraries she oversees). We actually had a pretty great conversation about body image and healthy ways to talk about this topic with children.

Yesterday I heard back from her. She had lost my number in the shuffle (and I was glad to hear the school wouldn’t just hand out personal information) so she had actually gone through quite a process to find my number to let me know that the book was removed from circulation. She seemed as horrified by the content of the book as I was and said it was clearly missed in a cull about 10 years ago.

The other thing she told me was how grateful she was that I had called her and that I had written the letter. She said this made her job a lot easier as everything was all written up. I appreciate so much how she treated me respectfully and made me feel that my opinion was valued. Further, she thanked me (multiple times) for being so nice and easy to get along with through the process (I bet you can imagine some of the horrible conversations she’s had with irate parents!)

As one of the things I’m now working on is dealing with conflict in a non-terrifying way (in other words, I HATE conflict!!) this whole experience left me feeling very encouraged that this is the woman choosing the literature that thousands of kids will see through their school libraries. It also encouraged me to be able to speak up again if the need arises.

Another encouraging thing for me has been hearing from friends who checked out their school library to make sure it was pulled from there as well. I know it has been removed from at least one other school and that it was previously removed from another.

As much as I wish this whole situation wouldn’t have had to happen, I love that it worked out so well. Now to work on the messages that the book sends and helping people be more body accepting…and I’ll leave you with my daughter’s thoughts on it all:

“But mom, it was written by an ADULT! Why didn’t she understand that already?!?”

Not the Hair

Yesterday I posted about my 4 year old’s adventures with scissors and his hair. When I posted, I just wanted to CRY and clearly hadn’t had time to process anything.

There are a few things I want to remember when I look back on this day.

1. He cut his hair first thing in the morning in the craziness of getting ready for school on the day I had a parent teacher interview with my daughter’s teacher before school. Clearly that made it more stressful than it actually was. My daughter’s teacher was awesome about my imminent meltdown and was totally calming. We had a nice chat that was full of encouragement about the progress my daughter has made over the past few months. This was a good part of the day.

2. There was a hilarious moment when Edward Scissor Hands decided that we should try to glue the hair back on his head and we had to explain to him how that wouldn’t work.

3. There’s the moment I discovered the two snips worth of hair missing from the back of his baby brother’s head as well…and while he denied it at first, the moment that he decided to take responsibility for his actions and gave a heartfelt apology to his brother and to me.

4. I WANT to forget how angering it was to have the hair dresser that was trying to fix his hair multiple times refer to his previous hair cut as “girl hair” and how much it was her goal to make it more boyish so people wouldn’t assume he was a *shudder* girl,  IN SPITE of me every time replying, “this haircut and its length were his choice and we thought he looked beautiful”. BUT I don’t want to forget how proud it made me when, in front of that hairdresser, I said, “sorry baby, after you have this hair cut it won’t be long enough for pigtails anymore but it will grow back if you choose to grow it long again” and he looked me in the eyes (with just a little hint of sadness) and said, “I know.”

5. I don’t want to forget our ride home from the hairdressers when I asked him about the poem they were doing in class that week and he told me it was about “Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet, eating her turds away”. And I want to remember that I managed not to laugh out loud.

6. I want to remember the next morning when he woke early and was sitting on the toilet and I snuck in the bathroom to sit across from him. I don’t want to forget the moment he looked up at me as if he was still peeking through bangs. And with his crazy scruffy dried all over morning hair, he whispered, “hi mom. Is it morning yet?” and he gave me his goofy little grin and he looked like my boy again. The one that seemed to look so foreign the day before. And the first thought I had was, “he looks like one of the werewolf cubs from Hotel Transylvania.” And it suited him so perfectly that suddenly everything seemed okay again. And then even though it wasn’t really time to get up yet, he didn’t go back to his bed but came and half slept, cuddling in our bed until the alarm went off.

7. I want to remember the moment right after I saw it for the first time and he saw tears forming in my eyes and his eyes filled too. I want to remember how carefully he climbed into my lap and hugged me as our tears rolled down our cheeks. “It’s only hair”, I whispered to him.

8. But mostly I want to remember the conversation we had later that night. His sister was being awesome and playing with the baby so it was just he and I. We were half doing a homework activity (with SCISSORS) and half chatting. Our conversation came around to the topic of forgiveness. I asked him if we forgive in our house – to which he replied “NO!”. I snickered and asked if he knew what forgiveness was – and again he said no. I told him that forgive is what you do when someone makes a mistake. When even if you’re still sad and even though it was not an okay thing to do, you’re not mad anymore. And again we talked about how I’m not mad at him, how I love him, how even though I’m sad I forgive his mistake. And I so hope that he learned something in that moment – because if he did, it’s probably worth it.

not quite picture perfect

Today I just want to cry – in fact, I have…a few times. I want to curl in a ball and not come out.

This morning I came up the stairs to my husband turning my son around so I could see his face and his handful of hair. He had cut the front right off. I know – most parents have a story of at least one of their kids doing this and it does grow back. I know it is only hair. But I still just want to cry.

It isn’t going to be an easy fix. I would have been fine with trimming it or even cutting it short – in fact I ask him every few weeks if he wants to trim it as it does fall in his face a lot. So far he’s decided to keep it, “long and beautiful” which makes me happy because it really does suit him long. But this is not going to clean up easily. He took out the full thickness and it’s REALLY short on one side.

The thing that pains me the most is that I finished my sweater last night. The one I’ve been desperately trying to get done so we can get professional family pictures done for the first time in 2 years. The one that I love so very much and is fall colours. The one that I bought sweaters for the rest of the family to match. The one that took so long because the little one has been getting teeth and had thrush and a sore throat and I just couldn’t find time to knit because my arms were full. And I received a gift for my patience. The weather forecast is beautiful next week and perhaps it could happen after all.

And now the middle one looks goofy. I mean, I’ll take him to the hair dressers’ and we’ll fix him up as best as we can (recommendations for places are welcomed)…but these pictures that I’ve been so excited about and for which I’ve put so much effort into getting ready will not be what I was imagining.

It’s hair. He’s still exactly who he was yesterday even if he looks a little goofy. It will grow back. It’s just not quite picture perfect…


Tappan Zee Because Mom Loves Me

* This is my first knitting post and also the post where I get to talk about my awesome mom. Sorry if I make you jealous that you don’t have her but as many of my friends can attest, she’s a great mom-of-a-friend too!

A few months ago, I did something really challenging. It brought me great stress and anxiety. A week later my mom was out of town at a little fabric and yarn shop (As she is a quilter, she was there for fabric – but knows how much I love yarn…) She decided to get me something while she was there. Knowing my mom, she probably went over every yarn in the shop to find the perfect one for me. And she did.

The next time she saw me, she brought me a bag containing the 6 most lovely skeins of Manos Del Uruguay Merino Silk Blend Yarn that I ever did see. They were soft and squishy and colours that I could easily put on any of the three kids or myself. She knows that I love this line of yarn because of the story (click here to learn more about the Manos Del Uruguay Project) and because they make lovely yarns. I have felt this particular yarn before but have never bought it because of the price and because I have such an awesome stash I usually can’t justify another yarn store purchase.

She also gave me a lovely note that told me that it was a gift not because it was a special occasion but rather just because she loves me and is proud of the person I am. She knew how much I needed to hear that right then and it made the gift a very special one.

It had the same copper as my daughter’s hair and would look lovely on her. On the other hand, it was a blend of colours that my boys often wear. I hit Ravelry that night to figure out what I could make with my present. I knew I wanted to start knitting with it right away. I was pretty excited to find out that she had bought enough for me to make myself a short sleeved sweater. It felt a little bit selfish to use it for myself and to devote a few months’ worth of my limited knitting time to a sweater for me when neither of my sons have hats that match their snowsuits and there were a few baby showers coming. But I chose to make myself my very own Tappan Zee (a pattern by Amy King) out of this amazing yarn anyways. And I don’t regret it at all!

I got gauge with sz 7 needles knitting flat, knit the size 42, and made a slight modification to the underarms to allow for the girls. I used up 5.5 sk or 275g of the yarn. I also made button holes all the way down – requiring 8 buttons. I did not do the chart repeat at the bottom but instead did the single lace row at 13 inches when the chart would have started (this paragraph really is just for my records!) I will likely make this sweater again as a pullover or mock cardigan with ¾ sleeves.

I was hoping to get this done in time for a family picture session this autumn but a teething toddler messed with too many evenings worth of knitting and too many nights worth of sleep. I finally finished the knitting last night and the buttons this morning. I love how it looks and it’s like hugging a cloud (well….a dry one.) Having said that, what I end up loving most about this sweater is that the whole time I worked with this beautiful yarn, I was reminded that my mom loves me, is proud of me, and understands what I was feeling.

You see, if she had saved this yarn until Christmas or my Birthday, it would have been the same yarn but it would not have been the same gift.


Three Compliments

This is a piece about the language we use when we compliment children that I wrote about a month ago. Anne of the Belle Jar was kind enough to have me as a guest author on her blog. Now that I have my own blog, I thought I should post it here as well!

The Belle Jar

This week has been incredibly hectic, and I haven’t had the chance to write anything here, not even the reading list for David Gilmour which I promise is STILL COMING. In light of that, a few friends have stepped in and offered guest posts – here’s one from my lovely friend Joanna, whom I’ve known since high school, about the ways that we “compliment” babies and toddlers. Enjoy! 

Three Compliments by Joanna Schmidt

Three “Compliments” I’d prefer you wouldn’t give my baby:

I love my kids. They are the most important people in my life. So naturally, hearing them complimented warms my heart. I love when they are called cute or pretty or someone says their hair is lovely. Even more so, I love when people tell me that my child is clever or funny, kind or a good older sibling.

There are, however, a few “compliments” that I find…

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My Cups Runneth Over

*My very first blog post on my very own blog…and also the one in which I talk about my boobs. Let’s face it; it will probably happen again…

Recently there’s been a lot of online attention (at least in my circle of friends) around body acceptance and body positivity. This has primarily come as backlash to the “What’s Your Excuse?” photo posted by the professionally fit Maria Kang. I’ve found many of the posts made to “We don’t need an Excuse” to be encouraging and beautiful.

As I read these posts, it hits me deeply how important it is that I teach my kids how to view people. How to teach my kids that they are valuable no matter what; that they are beautiful no matter what. And so is everyone else. It’s figuring out how to teach them not just to accept themselves but to love themselves and others. And it’s hard because I’m not all the way there with myself yet.

I think for my whole life I’ve been very body accepting. I was raised to love the person not the body, to look at a person’s character and choices rather than their outward appearance. (In fact, the first bible verse my mother ever had me learn was Proverbs 11:22 (Message translation) “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful face on an empty head.”) I took these messages to heart. I accepted that my appearance didn’t matter as much as my personality and accomplishments.

Thing is, there’s more to this than acceptance. There’s body positivity. Sure, I could always tell you that I have nice hair. I could pick out features of mine that someone might consider attractive. The difference here is that I didn’t feel proud of my body. My shape was just something that I had to accept.

I have always been a bit bigger. I was the roundest baby – my rolls had rolls. I was never one of the skinny girls, even when I was really young I had some curve to me. I grew and went through puberty young. By 11 years old I was my full height and already had a C cup. It sucked at the time but I realized there was nothing I could do to change this. I was going to be busty and curvy and I was just going to live with it. I was a D cup by grade 8 and larger by the end of high school. Shirts that fit were nearly impossible to buy because if they would be big enough to house the girls, they were too big everywhere else.

Something changed about how I view my body around 7 years ago. I got pregnant with my first baby and suddenly my body was about something different. My body was about growing a human being. My body stretched and changed and just over 6 years ago I laboured and delivered the most beautiful person I had ever laid eyes on. She was goopy and screaming and round all over and perfect and my body made her. Then because she was hungry my body fed her. And over the next year and a half when she was hungry or sad or crabby or tired or snuggly or miserable or hurting my body could soothe her. I found it so empowering and self-comforting being able to personally fix anything for my child. It wasn’t about me – these breasts that I was so frustrated with could fix anything for her. And so it was for my son born two years after her. And so it is for my son born three years after him.

And somewhere in there I started to love them a little. They aren’t just flesh bags on my body that I have to tolerate. They are a part of me. A part that some find attractive. They are a part of me that I wouldn’t have if I weren’t a bit bigger all over. Also during this time I have learned better what to do with them. I have gotten properly sized (with the help of a friend who learned to be proud of hers first) and I know when the fancy bra store has sales. I have learned which brands make clothes that fit my body more comfortably.

And so it is that this is the “What’s Your Excuse?” response that I had. (I had another that I submitted that is not boob-based but I thought this was important to share as well as this is one of the bigger struggles I’ve had on my way towards personal body positivity)