Why, Mom, Why?

Posted: July 28, 2008 in Featured Content, Weight Loss & Exercise
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Grrr…. I know, that’s not a good way to start off, but if any of you out there have mothers, you might understand what I’m feeling right now. Who can inspire more guilt and therapy sessions that your own mother? I can’t think of much. And this weekend, I found out (casually, of course) that my mother said a doozy of a remark about me…behind my back…to my husband. Who then waited two weeks to tell me. The sad part of all of it is that despite the fact that I am almost thirty, my mother’s remark crushed me. How can she still do that? I literally have been depressed all weekend because of it, and avoiding her to boot.

So first, a little background. My mother is 5’5″ and about the size of a (very thin) toothpick. She teaches aerobics class and is almost obsessive about working out. Me? I come from my dad’s side of the family. If you put me and my mother together, we don’t even look like we’re from the same genus and species, much less from the same family, much less than the fact that the woman gave birth to me.

I am the spitting image of my Memaw, my dad’s mother. Which on the one hand isn’t bad. She’s almost eighty and looks sixty, at the most. She just bought her own house a few years ago and has a younger boyfriend. In all the (almost thirty) years I have known my Memaw, she has never changed, looks-wise. Seriously! So if I have those genes, I can’t complain too much. However, she has always struggled with her weight. So I got those genes, too. I remember first feeling self-conscious about being chubby at age 8. Since that time, I have done constant battle with my self image. I am all those things you would say… big boned, more to love, etc., etc. I am not a huge person by any means, but I am not skinny, and I have always been extremely conscious of the fact that I am not skinny. The number one person who makes me feel like a big blob of disappointment? Yup, that’s right, Mom.

Before I had found out I was pregnant with my daughter in Sept. of 2004, I had just lost 40 pounds. I was looking smoking hot, at least in my mind. It was the least I’d weighed since high school, and I worked very hard to get there.  Of course, as soon as I was at my lowest weight, I became pregnant. Well, let me tell you, it has all gone to hell since then. I have struggled ten times more with my weight since having Sophie than ever before. I am a size 14, but I feel huge. My 14’s don’t fit right, even thought they do fit. It’s like all my parts shifted around after I had Sophie. More thighs, more middle. Couldn’t it have all gone to the boobs? Anyway, enter into this my tiny, energetic mother. I know she judges my size. She always has, but never directly. I see it in the comments she makes to others and the looks she gives others. To her, fat people are disgusting. Although, some of her very good friends are larger people too. She just doesn’t say anything to them directly. So if fat people are disgusting, does that mean I am too?

I know how I look. I know how to eat right and exercise. I fell awful in bathing suits and shorts. I beat myself up about my appearance more than anyone else ever could. Why can’t I bounce back to my pre-pregnancy weight in 3 months like all those celebrities? Oh, that’s right, I have to work a full time job and care for a child, often by myself, and we’re not rich. Where it’s taken them three months, it’s taken me three years, with no change. Three years!! This is partly why I’m unsure about having more kids. I’m terrified of being pregnant again.

So here I am, largely feeling down on myself to begin with because it’s hot summertime and everyone is wearing less. I just want to put on a big sweater, but that’s not an option. Then we go on vacation with my parents two weeks ago. One day, we’re in the pool at the state park, and I take Sophie to the bathroom. Apparently, while I’m gone, my mom says to my husband, Chris, “Geez, Jaime’s really going to have to do something about her weight soon, isn’t she?” My husband replied, “We all do, you know. We’ve slacked off lately,” or something to that effect.

My husband told me this on this past Saturday while we were working on our budget. The subject of my mother came up (she has a thing with looking down her nose at our debt problems, too) and Chris mentioned what she said. I was so shocked and hurt that I almost burst into tears right there, but I didn’t want Chris to see how much her comment affected me. Even now, two days later, I am still unable to come to terms with it. First of all, I know why she said it to Chris. Because she would never say it in front of me. But I know she thinks it, so isn’t that worse? And second, doesn’t she think I know? Doesn’t she realize what mean, hateful things I say to myself day in and day out about how I’m such a failure at losing the weight? Does she think I don’t notice how I look? Or does she just think I don’t try; that I’m too lazy to do anything about it?

I guess overall, it doesn’t really matter. She said what I knew she was thinking all along. She confirmed my worst fears…yes, she is judging me, and she does wish I was thin like her. Does it kill her that her daughter is overweight? Is she embarrassed? Disgusted? Disappointed? All of the above?

Well, join the club. I think all of those thoughts, too. But she is my mother. Isn’t she supposed to love me unconditionally? Why do mothers hold the ultimate power to inspire hurt and guilt in us daughters? Why does it have to be so hurtful to hear those words coming from her, when they are the same words I say to myself? It just goes back to that awful mother/daughter dynamic that we have played out over the years. I am never good enough because I am not like her. That’s the message I’ve always gotten, isn’t it?

I pray and hope that my relationship with Sophie is different. Sure, I want her to be healthy and smart, but I will tell my future self right now: Don’t cut her down when all she’s looking for from you is love and support. Don’t go for her weakness just because you know what it is. Help her with her problems, but don’t make her feel like less of a person because she has them. Future self, treat your daughter like you wish you were being treated right now. You don’t have to live by the example you have just because it’s the only example you have.

There, I think I’ve said everything on my mind. I’m not trying to trash my mother, because I really do love her and she’s done a lot for me. It’s just that there are some bad relationship dynamics that are always there no matter how good the two people are individually. I just wish she’d see my talents and my humor and my goodness rather than my faults. It’s hard, isn’t it, when you have children and your whole perspective on your own mother changes. Has that happened to anyone else?

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