Monday, May 12, 2008

eaten more brownies maybe.

yesterday was mother's day. yes, my mother's dead. yes, that sucks, but it was hardly "a thing" for me this year. just wasn't. i did have a think or two as i was making my round of calls to all 200 of the surrogate mothers i have out there about how very much it sucks to have a dead mother, but on the bright side, there is one thing in the world that i cannot forget to do! call my mother on mother's day. i am exempt.

then my friend ebetta sent me a link to this article in The New York Times and i about wanted to throw myself onto the office floor and weep for my moooommmmmmeeeeeeeeee.

i didn't, but i wanted to. mothers are supposed to be here as you leap over life's hurdles to hug you, support you, criticize you, antagonize you. i know that when i get married, i'll be surrounded by a whole bevy of surrogate mother hens alternately praising and criticizing every choice i make, but it won't be the same as if it were her.

and then of course there's this blog and that whole show i wrote, and i started thinking about how my mom affected how i think about my body and how i eat. something i haven't really thought that much about before, or i guess i have, but when i have thought about it, i've thought,

oh, we were a very well-fed family. mom never restricted my food. if i wanted seconds of dessert, i got 'em. (i do recall having to eat my salad however. iceberg lettuce, slices of cucumber, orange-in-a-bad-way tomatoes and Kraft Creamy Cucumber dressing, thankyeverymuch!). she never told me i was too chubby or too thin or too anything. i was always "muscular" (which, i have to say, never felt like much of a compliment when i couldn't fit into those damned slim-fitting Jordache jeans my best friend Stacey wore with such ease).

my mother was very intent, it seems, on NOT giving me a complex.

and yet. here i am. writing this blog. doing my show.

to quote my eloquent father, "bitch, bitch, bitch."

the other day, i met with three women who work for a non-profit organization that deals with eating disorders. i was presenting my show to them in hopes of partnering with them in some way someday in the future. one of the women asked if i had any family members with an eating disorder.

"uh, no. (insert response above sans parentheticals). i mean, not that i know of."

she went on to say that sometimes eating disorders are not so readily apparent.

"you know, the 'i've been eating all day while i've cooked, so i'm not going to eat anything' sort of thing."

ah yes. that. i've done that. did my mom do that? i can't recall. perhaps i lost her too young to notice that sort of thing.

i do recall, at age three, my parents putting me in my first royal blue, string bikini and then telling me to hold my stomach in.

"hold your stomach in and pinch a penny between your cheeks."

at three.

and then, on another day, i remember walking into my parents bedroom, stomach sucked in so that you could plainly see the keyboard of my ribs. i gasped, proudly:

"look, mom and dad. i'm sucking in, and i can still breathe."

they laughed as one laughs at 3-year olds who are trying to adopt an adult behavior. dysfunctional or no. isn't that cute?

and then i recall my mom always runningrunningrunning. and then the series of crunches she'd do after the runningrunningrunning. i always assumed the runningrunningrunning was for fitness, but now, looking back, it's hard for me to think that there wasn't an additional, um, cosmetic reason for her long distance hobby. no one ever said as much, but it's hard for me not to think so now; knowing what i know now about my family's tendency to equate one's physical appearance with one's moral fortitude, knowing how our dining room table heaved with gigantic portions of food meant to satisfy pro-football player-sized appetites, and knowing that my mom's identity was more than a little wrapped up in maintaining her Homecoming Queen standard of beauty... even after three kids. knowing all of this, it's hard for me to think something else wasn't going on... too.

i remember thinking what a hottie my mom was, and wanting her to dress the part. my mom was a big sunbather (i am not, and you'd better not be either, young lady!), but she refused to wear a bikini. she did have one though. a hot pink one, that i always, always, always begged her to wear when we'd visit my grandparents down in Naples, FL. she wouldn't.

she hated her belly. she told me so.

i spent years hating my belly. because she told me so?

i mean, is that a coincidence? nah. of course not.

now don't get your panties in a wad, i'm not dissing my dead mother. although, yes, it did sort of feel WRONG as i typed those last few senteces. am i BLAMING MY DEAD MOTHER for all of my problems?

someone take away her motherless daughter badge, she deserves no sympathy from us!

ya know, when someone's dead, they sort of assume a deified status in the world of the living, so it's mighty hard to say anything remotely negative about them for fear that it will sound like you're disrespecting them. i think that's just dumb. turning a blind eye out of respect for the dead does us living folks NO GOOD. those dead people? they're DEAD. they don't care. i'm not disrespecting my mom. i'm commiserating with her. as a matter of fact, i think i'm honoring her by learning from her life - the good, the bad, and the ugly. i don't know much about my mom, but i know that she'd want me to. i know that much.

and i know that she'd want my little girl to love her belly, and me too for that matter. i'm sure there's some perspective that comes with dying. i highly doubt, as my mom slipped to the other side, that she thought to herself: i really wish i'd done more crunches.


Sara said...

I bet your mom would be incredibly proud of the woman you have become. We're trying for our second child, and I almost hope I have a girl so that we can arm the world with more NON-DIETING chicas. Gotta break the cycle!


hope505 said...

What an eloquent post.
My mom died suddenly last July, and it still feels like it was yesterday sometimes. My dad has been gone more than 10 years - he passed in '95.
Anyway, I can definitely identify with the push/pull of a feeling it is to examine oneself in relation to one's dead mother...I've had a distorted relationship with food and my body my whole life, but my mother didnt' ever see it..! Because it would have meant having to see her *own* dysfunctional self-image and eating habits. But I know for a fact that she loved me, and I loved her the same, and that's what really counts. And now that she's dead, it does free my mind, in a way, to be able to think in new and different ways about myself in relation to my own body and to the world-at-large. It's not wicked, it's just how it is.

Palmtreechick said...

Great post, Margrocks!! You have such an amazing outlook on things and can see the real picture on how life should be.

As for the sun...Hmmm...I'll stop there.

Grumpus. said...

I just happened upon your site -- I hope you know you're a fantastic writer. Just sayin'. Loved this post!

Anonymous said...

This is really true. I'm glad to see that you've gotten past it. Hindsight is 20/20 and honestly, I think a lot of us can relate. Mothers play a big part in shaping our body image, intentional or unintentional. I'm sure she would approve of this post and be glad that you've found clarity when she may never have found it.

eatinginbalance said...

I know this post was written a while ago but I just discovered your blog today and LOVE it! I relate so, so much to many things you say on here. You're inspiring me to blog with more candor myself.