Friday, April 13, 2007
on yogurt, dealing with my mother, and mental well-being
After we got back from our honeymoon, i discovered a large shopping bag in our bedroom that my mother had “left behind”. Inside the bag: a really horrible gaudy pink flowery bedazzled makeup bag, a white leather Louis Vuitton purse, an opera CD, and a copy of French Women Don’t Get Fat.
This shopping bag was, of course, strategically left behind in her attempt to give me some culture and make me appear rich; but most importantly to her, make me believe that i’m overweight.
Mothra has been on a diet her entire life. I really can’t remember any time at all even dating far back to my childhood when she wasn't dieting. Back in the 80s, she was hooked on things like Dexatrim to get her through the day (and boy, was our house ever clean!). Then there was Nutrisystem. Then there was the binging and purging. The thing is, my mom isn’t eating anything that’s terribly bad for her; she’s just of this mentality that if you aren’t a size 4 or 6 then something is really wrong with you and you need to stop eating right now. The few times she goes to a gym, she spends the entire day there in hopes that taking every aerobics class offered that day will make up for the following month of no exercise.
I’m not of that philosophy. I like to take things in moderation. I make bread, i eat bread, and then i don’t have bread for a while. I eat creme brulee one day, and then i don't for a good long while. I balance it all out with a healthy dose of daily fruit, yogurt, water and wine (and, well, other food too). So yes, i’m not a size 4 or 6, and this distresses her so very much. I’m not kidding when i say that every single one of our phone conversations since i moved out from under the parental thumb in 1988 always revolve around food and how much (or little) i’m eating. She automatically assumes that since she has no control over me anymore, that because i haven’t seen her in a year and a half, then therefore i must be enormous. In fact, the day of my wedding as we were all dressed up and waiting for the shuttle bus to take us to the annapolis city dock, she was dabbing at her eye makeup and muttering about how ridiculously fat i looked in my gaudy wedding dress. Actually, the exact words she used to describe my dress were “You look like a Spanish whore”, but that’s another story.
It is a miracle that i haven’t thrown myself off a bridge, you know.
It took me a long, long time to realize that it's not me, that she’s just plain nuts. She does need help, but she will never reach out for help because she doesn’t think anything is wrong with her, so there’s no point of even going there.
It took me a long, long time to develop a very thick skin and not take everything she says personally. Every notion, every idea that pops into her brain immediately comes shooting out of her mouth. I don't even think she realizes half of the things that she says because she’s not listening to herself. So when we get on the phone, and the conversation eventually comes around to my weight (or in her brain, how much she thinks i weigh and look like, which is usually way off the mark), i have developed a system of shutting myself off and responding with a bunch of uh-huhs and you-don’t-says until she’s done with her spiel. She feels satisfied and i feel satisfied, and this works for me. It took me 37 years to get to this point and my mental health has never been better.
So what’s the point of this entry? I know it seems sad and morose, but it’s not meant to be. People who know me know that Mothra drives me crazy, but they also know that i’m a huge sillyhead and i take what she says with a grain of salt. So she gives me this copy of French Women Don’t Get Fat (which by the way, really is a good book), but she’s never even read it herself and never will. In fact, it’s partially due to this book that i now make my own yogurt. I eat a yogurt and sometimes some fruit every morning for breakfast . Mothra told me that this was much too much food intake for the morning, that i should be limiting myself to either nothing at all or half a grapefruit, and just plain lettuce for lunch (umm..... yeah).
So i make my own yogurt. It’s not sweet, and it’s not riddled with high fructose corn syrup. It’s made with 2% milk, some nonfat powered milk, sometimes a squirt of vanilla extract, sometimes a squirt of honey. I never make the same batch twice. Sometimes i’ll mix in a teaspoon of sugar while i’m eating it, and sometimes i’ll mix it up with fruit salad. It’s a lot better than not having any breakfast, which is what i used to do; and it helps my digestion (i sometimes have a sensitive stomach). And i feel really good knowing that i started off my day on a good note. Mothra thinks that this is crazytalk. Make your own yogurt? No, i must be doing something wrong with it! I must be making it with 100% heavy cream! because after all, she just knows i’m fat, she can feel it in her bones. Uh-huh, you-don’t-say.
The point of this entry? Well, there are several points. I may not be the ideal supermodel-skinny daughter to my mother, but i am a size 8; Mothra is nuts; yogurt is good, but yoplait sucks.
Hey! That rhymes!