I came home earlier than usual tonight and noticed the light in my daughter’s room was still on.
“Mom, can we talk?”
A dear friend of hers has not been eating lunch. “Amy” goes through all of the motions, buying lunch or bringing something from home, eating a few chips, taking a sip of water, and then gives the rest away or tosses it out. Amy says she’s not hungry. Apparently Amy has not been hungry for lunch for at least three weeks.
My daughter was in tears. Lunch period is the only time these two see each other during the day, but a few friends have also noticed Amy’s lack of appetite.
“Anorexia. What if it’s anorexia? Does she think she’s fat? She’s not fat, Mom. She’s beautiful just the way she is. She needs to eat.”
In my dark moments, I look at my daughter, and I worry. I watch for signs of depression (something I’ve struggled with). I watch for signs of an eating disorder or preoccupation with weight (something I’ve watched friends struggle with) – making sure she isn’t just pushing food around or going to the bathroom after meals. I watch for my shadows cast onto her tween years…
My awkward stage lasted a good 10 years. Bad haircuts, glasses, braces, uncool clothes, a flat nose and almond-shaped eyes evolved into more bad haircuts, glasses, straighter teeth, clothes that screamed “board room” or “goth”, a flat nose and almond-shaped eyes that were forbidden to be tainted with eyeshadow. My sense of rhythm, my $2,000 smile and my killer moves got me a spot on the pom-pon squad, but even the varsity letter couldn’t cover up the fact that I felt, and actually was, very uncool and very misunderstood.
So I watch my own daughter and wonder if she’ll feel anything like I did. I watch for the awkward stage as girls shed their little girl bodies and giggles and find their way into womanhood and reclaim their laughter and voice. I watch for the tsunami of hormones to rage into door slamming declarations that I’m ruining her life. So far, the hormones have focused on her forehead and height.
“Bethany, how do you feel about yourself? Do you know how beautiful you are? Do you know how God sees you?”
“I know, Mom. I know,” she said with a smile that held nothing back. “I like the way I am. I’m just worried she’s starving herself.”
We prayed for an opportunity to talk with Amy and for courage to be honest and ask questions. And I prayed in my heart that both Amy and Bethany would know and believe deep in their hearts, minds and souls that they – as physically different as they are – are both beautiful, strong and wonderfully, fearfully made.
Oh, Lord. Please help her know. Please help me to guide her well.