Today marks what would have been my mother's 60th birthday. Unfortunately, she died at the young age of 44 from something that couldn't have been predicted or prevented--a cerebral aneurysm.
Since this blog is about food & body, I just thought I'd focus on that part of the emotions I feel today. My mom had her issues and battles with food: she grew up as a chubby child; lost some of it in college; gained while being medicated for panic attacks; went up and down with children; and then towards the end of her life seemed to be content with a diet of coffee, cigarettes, and dinner.
She projected her weight and body issues on to me. When I was a baby, she didn't even try to nurse me (apparently she didn't have much success/comfort with breasfteeding my older brother and became paranoid about that). When I was in the fourth grade, I needed to be fitted for a bra. She wouldn't let me get a cute pink bra with a bow in the middle. I was allowed to pick out a sports bra that flattened my chest only. She vocally resented the shape of my legs and hips.
The food she did make for my brother and I wasn't always the best, vastly underrepresented fresh fruits and vegetables, and bordered on the torture of meat products (her porkchops often turned out grey).
But for as sad as all these memories are, I just focus on the few good ones. When my father was getting ready to sell the house, he pulled back the kitchen curtains and found white, crusty food attached to them. I knew exactly what it was -- before my mom had died, we had little bit of a fake-potato food fight. I remember making tomato sauce with her (from the garden to the pot). I looked forward to each holiday season where we'd bake hundreds of cookies--just her and I.
Ultimately what I'm left with is a profound compassion for my mother. I wish I could go back in time and share with her what I've learned about how to be gentle, forgiving, and understanding with myself and my own shortcomings. I wonder what her life would have been like if she had been at peace with her body, not resigned to an outcome.