My Mother: 99% Amazing!
Monday, July 25, 2011
My mother died 3 years ago on July 29 and I think I have a big case of anniversary-itis. I really miss her although we had a tormented relationship off and on because she had grown up with an eating disorder of some sort.
But first: let me stress: my mother was generous, a great humanitarian, she gave of herself to others (stints in the Peace Corps, and volunteering in "The Killing Fields" with Catholic Relief Services, and doing all she could to alleviate poverty and illness in the world). She was witty, cultured, loving, intelligent and she taught me so much about how to live well and how to appreciate the arts.
Her relationship with food was very bad. She weighed 98 pounds when she was pregnant with my youngest sister, which no doubt led to the baby's premature delivery.
Stop and think: What kind of woman is proud that she had a goal of being 9 months pregnant and weighing less than 100 pounds????
My mother, her sister, and their mother were more horrified by overweight people than they were by intolerance, bigotry, or character defects. Their emotional response was probably that a thin murderer was superior to an overweight saint.
But I know that if they had stopped and analyzed it, they would have felt differently.
This is not the most important thing to know about my mother, but it's one of the things that can characterize a woman of any size: the fear of fat, the fear of fat people, the shame of having overweightfriends or relatives, and the propensity to equate general virtue with slenderness.
Please do not think I am critiquing my mother; I am just trying to understand how a woman of so many gifts could live under the tyranny of Fear of Fat (not that she ever got fat). It just seemed as if it was a shadow life that prevented her from 100% pleasure in the very good life that she did have.