Friday, February 4, 2011

Mom & Me

A while ago, Karen of Waisting Time mentioned her son, speculating about what he might notice and/or think about her weight struggles. That got me thinking about my mom.

I recall nothing about Mom and food until I was about 9 or 10. The family was sitting on the floor of our living room playing a game of Monopoly. Mom was kneeling and I noticed that her knees were really large, like big ships on the ocean. Looking at my knees and comparing them to hers I felt some sort of amazement that hers could be so large. I don't remember being critical or embarrassed about her knees, just in awe of them.

Our body types are just alike. We carry weight all over our bodies and tend to have heavy legs even when we are not overweight by medical standards. We tend to retain a waist even at our heaviest. Medical people always raise an eyebrow when they see our weight on the charts... "You don't look that heavy... Must have heavy bones..." Ah yes, heavy bones.

Looking back to my early school years, I never thought of Mom as overweight. However, she probably weighed about what I do now, possibly 20 pounds more. She didn't talk about food or her weight that I remember, not until much later. But she did hide the chocolate chips and the cookies. I always thought she was hiding them from me. But maybe she was trying to put them out of her own temptation sight-lines as well.

Later, when I was in high school, Mom took the two of us to a "diet doctor," who put us both on a pill to ramp up our metabolism. Yikes! I recall the jitters and anxiety experienced while on the pill diet. Mom and I both lost weight. We both gained it back the next year and never talked of it again. Until now, I always thought she went with me out of solidarity, that SHE didn't need a diet, that she went on it with me to help me.

Mom didn't like to chide her kids, at least not very directly. Sometimes that was a good thing. All five of us grew up pretty free to develop our own pathway. She is/was also a very private person. She didn't discuss her problems and she didn't seem keen on discussing mine. She never talked about her weight with me, although once in a while, when I was into queen sizes, she'd find some tactful way to mention a new diet she'd read about. I think we both tried the grapefruit and eggs diet at the same time (during my college years), although we didn't share our experiences with it.

The pill diet was the only time we openly discussed diet or overeating until about 25 years ago when empty-nested, she got into an exercise program and began, in her words, to eat more healthy foods. Her idea at the time was to help Dad slim down a bit. They quit eating snacks, relegated the peanut butter to the back of the top shelf, concentrated on fresh vegetables and smaller portions.

Over about a year's time, Mom went from (I'm guessing here) large or extra-large sized to small or medium sized clothing. She never gained it back. Dad did. After they moved into assisted living, he regained his extra chins and a bit of a pot belly. But Mom stays slim.

When I visit her (she's in Minnesota and age 94 now), I often sit with her while she eats. I watch what she eats. She tries to eat all the fruit and vegetables, picks at the meat, skips most of the bread/potatoes, and only eats dessert if it's really a good one. This is pretty much unconscious on her part (I think).

The change in her eating habits, starting when she was about 70, is now so ingrained that even tempted by sweets for breakfast and desserts for every lunch and every dinner at the nursing home, she maintains her slimness.

Next time I visit her, I'll see if she's willing to talk about her life-time issues with weight. Did she struggle? Did she have self-image problems because of it? Did she binge? Did she look at me and worry about the 240 pounds I carried around most of the time? Was she even aware of it? Certainly I was rarely and barely aware of it with her.

I don't want to weigh 240 again in my life. But it's not so much because I feel ugly or even that it's unhealthy for my heart, feet, back, knees, etc. to carry around so much weight. The main reason is binging. To get to that weight always involves a steady increase in binging with a resulting aura of self-loathing and sense of being crazy. Thanks to abstinence and OA, this is a thing I'm not facing right now.

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Today's gratitude: Mom, Dad, family times together reading out loud and playing board games, everyone in my OA group and recovery bloggers who share so much, rain, our marriage counselor


  1. Interesting! And it immediately made me think about my own mom. Who has maybe been a few pounds overweight now and then but that is the most, I think. I do remember her doing some sort of dieting when I was growing up because I remember some of the foods. But it was never a big deal. I know she did Weight Watchers. So... she is pretty much together with her eating and weight - so I can't blame her for my issues:(

  2. They used to call my mother "Large Marge"
    But she wasn't large at all....
    My sister is 400 pounds, my g mother was the same.
    And then, there's me. 2xx pounds.....
    I'm with your mom, though, about eating dessert first!

  3. I appreciated reading your memories about your Mom. Like Karen, they carried me back to memories of my Mom, too.

    Isn't it interesting how we see things when we are kids?? Like you and your Mom's knees...

    I remember thinking my Momma was so pretty. It never registered to me, until my teen years, that she struggled to keep her weight in check!

    How wonderful that you still have your Mom with you, and can visit. Now that, I envy.


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