So the name of this blog is Just Me and Sometimes Bacon. This one is the ‘just me’ part.
My mom would have been 78 today. I miss her every single day. I am who I am largely because of her. By any definition, Ree was a piece of work! And there are too many wonderful things to share to limit them to this blog, but for the purpose of this blog, she’s my topic.
She was of a generation, raised by parents who survived the depression. You had to finish your plate. You had to eat what was served. And then judged for the result of being overweight. She was a lifetime dieter. Every diet in the book. I grew up in a house where my mom was on a diet. I’m pretty sure this is how we get weight problems – dieting. I think somewhere there’s a study that says dieting makes you gain.
She was a natural nurturer with kids of all ages. And cooking and food was love. She catered at one point. Her partner made my mom’s delicious food look pretty. It was a great team. My mom taught me that beauty is in everyone. She saw it. She didn’t see others as fat or skinny – she saw their soul. She talked to their person. She acknowledged that we might have fat on us but that didn’t define us. If I had to define her in one word – and I can’t – it would be Mother. She was a mom to everyone. She nurtured everyone. And very often, nurturing meant feeding. Because that was her culture.
But she, like I said, was always on a diet. The one she kept coming back to was Weight Watchers. But she only did one of the plans. The first one is the one she understood, so each time she joined, she’d go back to that one counting breads and milks and meats. That’s also common. Something works – you go back to it. That’s a good thing. I remember liver night in my house – UGH! I remember her making her own ketchup. I remember cabbage soup. And since I didn’t have a weight problem until I was an adult – all these things were torture. But something was seeping in.
MUST. LOSE. WEIGHT.
MUST. BE. THIN.
She used to joke that she wanted to be buried in a size 6 dress with the tag out – never mind that the back of the dress would be cut.
Why? Why is this desire to be thin take over an entire life? The seeping in of dieting constantly – although silently – taught me that thin is best and if you’re not something is wrong. Now verbally she told me differently. I heard how beautiful I was no matter what. But I watched her. She didn’t think that of herself. And so therefore…it’s hard to believe that being thin wasn’t the be all and end all.
Thin isn’t attractive. Happy is. Thin isn’t sexy. Confidence is. Thin isn’t always healthy. Strong is healthy.
My mom taught me that we all have our own battles. She constantly reminded me that my own battles will be won because I am strong. She passed on the love of food and nurturing with food to my loved ones. I’m good with that. I’m good with all the neuroses she passed on to me because deep down they were all based on that instinct to nurture.
On my first day of kindergarten she asked me what my teacher was like. I told her she was beautiful like a princess. On parent teacher night when my mom was introduced to Mrs. McDonald she saw a woman who was her height and weighed about the same. My mom cried. Because she knew that I saw her too as a beautiful princess.