I was sitting in my chair looking at the large eyes of my youngest child.

“Can I give you your present today?” he asked excited.

“Sure!” I said excited, wondering what Mother’s Day surprise lie within his Ninja Turtles backpack.

He smiled and pulled out a purple construction paper purse that he had made from class. When I opened it, it read… “My Mother a True Story.”

I’m no stranger to these “My Mom” stories from my kids. Since they were at daycare they have come home with the question-answer stories all about me. I’ve been 2 years old, 100 feet tall, and yes even had my favorite food listed as wine (thanks to my oldest). I’ve got to admit it has always been bittersweet looking at these stories, getting a glimpse into how my children view me. Sometimes its funny, other times I am left thinking: “Do they really think that?” 

Page after page I read and laughed at the cute answers my son gave to the questions about his mom.

Then a question and answer appeared that stopped me in my tracks.

“My mom really likes to…”

There in his classic 1st grade penmanship my son wrote…“run at the YMCA.”

I realized at that simple point in time that my journey this past year to lose 100 pounds has affected so many more important things than my waistline. I’m quite certain that if asked this question a year ago, he would have written… “Clean the house” or “Watch TV.” If he referenced running, I’m sure it would only have been in reference to “Running to Walmart.”

It hit me at that point that not only have I completely changed the image in the mirror, I’ve completely changed this little brown eyed boy’s mom.

One year ago his mom made excuses. She was anxious, overwhelmed, and only had energy to really meet his needs, not her own. His mom couldn’t go out and run with him without being winded. His mom watched from the side of the pool for fear of wearing a swimming suit. His mom went for ice cream on a bad day. His mom made a snack every time someone was bored. His mom was afraid of change and as a result he stayed with her in the comfort zone. 

But now, well, his mom is completely different. She takes time for herself, which makes her calmer, happy, and much more fun. She challenges him to races around the track (sometimes even coming close to beating him), she throws him around in the pool. She walks off a bad day instead of eating it off, and if someone is bored the last place we look for entertainment is the kitchen. His mom now tries new things and pushes limits so now he lives with her outside the comfort zone. His mom says “No” a lot less, and “Let’s try it” a lot more.

And he has been watching the entire time through this transformation.

I have no doubt that this past year I have taught him more than I ever had in the 6 prior years of his life, because I’m teaching him through actions, not simply words.

He’s watching me not just listening to me.

He watched when I first got this crazy idea to lose weight. He was there with me at the YMCA the first few weeks when I got so winded walking around the track that I had to sit down. He watched the insane idea to lose 100 pounds become less of an idea and more of a mission. He watched me spend long hours at the gym. He watched me work hard for my goals. He watched me push through pain and come out stronger. He watched as I went from being horribly out of breath within 1 minute on the treadmill to crossing the finish line of a 5K.

Until I read that simple line in his homemade present I didn’t quite grasp how my journey is teaching my kids and transforming all of our lives. Seeing myself transform through the eyes of my child meant more to me than any number on a scale.

So I’m going to keep going, keep pushing, keep working hard. After all, there are so many more chapters to “My Mother A True Story” that I can’t wait to read. 

Mandi Richards

Mandi Richards is a full time mom and full time civil litigation attorney on a never ending mission to find the perfect balance between a busy family life and hectic professional life. As a working mom of three beautiful and busy children (ages 10, 9, and 7) her life is always chaotic but she wouldn't have it any other way.  She resides in Bettendorf, Iowa with her husband, Todd, and children. When she is not preparing for trial or spending long hours in her favorite Dance Mom/Baseball Mom roles, Mandi is an avid writer, scrapbooker, and photographer who loves to workout, decorate, and party plan. In the summer of 2016, Mandi set out on amazing mission to change her lifestyle and to date has lost over 120 pounds. Follow along with her incredible journey on www.recoveringcarbie.wordpress.com.  Her goal is to inspire all mothers out there that even with all we have to juggle it is not only possible, but completely doable, to reach our goals and change our lives.