Friday, February 11, 2011

At What Age?

"What age were they when they became so matter of fact about what their children were doing?

I used to wonder about that when I gathered with a group of elderly grandmas for Bible Study when my kids were all pre teens. I'd listen to them share the latest news about what this daughter or that son was doing and be unable to identify at all with their matter of factness. I know now they had the ability to see themselves as separate beings from their children and I could not. Every action of my kids was always about me in my mind. I really believed that. They were a reflection of me. It was a painful and thank God, necessary, process for me to learn to detach and see my kids as separate from me. I cannot imagine being in relationship with them today had I not been given that gift. They'd want nothing to do with me, I'm sure.

The other day I was observing my mother-in-law walk across her kitchen floor. Her movements seemed a little stiff like she was the Tin Man getting her joints oiled with every step. For the first time I realized she's frail. Not uncommon for someone who is over 80 years old.

So it seems like an oxymoron to be 80 something and still wishing you could lose those last 10 pounds. I've heard my MIL talk about it my whole married life. Dearest one heard her kvetching with one of her daughters about it not too long ago.

Later that day I wondered what age a woman has to get to before she stops talking about the need to lose weight, to reach that magical number in her head that will never be hers again except by default of getting an insidious disease.

There's a scene in one of Anne Lamott's books that has stuck with me:
When my best friend Pammy was dying, I asked her if I looked fat in a certain dress, and she—from a wheelchair—said, “Annie, you really don’t have that kind of time.” I live by that.
I look at pictures of me when I am the mother of a one year old and remember how proud I was to come home eight days after having gall bladder surgery and the number, THE NUMBER! on the scale, I hadn't seen since before pregnancy.

In those photos I dont' look like I have any extra skin on me at all. A few years and another baby later I went on a weight loss binge and in those pictures I look anorexic. I remember the powerful feeling of losing weight and telling dearest one to please keep an eye on me because I didn't think I could stop losing weight, it felt so good. THAT NUMBER on the scale I hadn't seen since 9th grade. I only came to my senses after I slipped on a pair of 28 inch waist jeans and realized that size of jeans and fat couldn`t belong in the same sentence. I`m embarrassed at how much of a jolt it was when that realization hit me.

Twenty five years later I`m about being at home in my skin. It's taken that long to reach this place. I could write reams about the journey to get here. Being at home in my skin has nothing to do with the number on a scale. My younger self would never have believed that. A few years ago my cardiologist was raggin on me to lose weight. She wanted 20 pounds gone before she saw me again in a few months.

I looked at her and the part of me that is competitive, that has the I'll show you mantra threw down a glove and said, "Game on." The other part of me, the side I've worked harder to nurture, looked at her and thought to myself, "I will never do that crazy making dance again. Not even for you."

The other day, as part of my job, I had to weigh someone and record their weight for a contest. She can't be any older than I was when I was in my near anorexic days. She was excited for the contest and was off to the gym to exercise. I encouraged her in her desire to be healthier but I felt a real sadness as I watched her walk away, pining for a number on the scale. Wondering what age she will be when that pining goes away.

Photo Credit


daisymarie said...

I wish I knew. I'm still pining. Last year with all my "illness" I put on weight that I haven't been able to get off, even with biking. I don't know if there's a magic number, but my recent wrestling with illness has set me in search of health.

Pru said...

When I was in Vegas, one of the speakers said that every woman's ideal weight is the one they were at when they first thought they were fat. She let that sit with us for a moment before explaining what she meant.

She meant that every woman struggles with weight when they don't love themselves; and that when you love yourself, and take care of yourself, the number on the scale doesn't matter. It only starts to matter when you stop loving yourself.

It made me cry actually. I still haven't figured out why, but I'm not entirely sure that it matters if I ever do. What she said will be with me forever.

Emily J. said...

I love the point about older mothers seeing their children as separate people. I just had that thought this morning at Bible study when an older mother matter of factly announced her son's girlfriend was pregnant. She was asking for prayers, but without tears or words of selfblame. I admired her candidness - and you've articulated the reason why she was able to be open.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

I'm grateful today to not have the obsession over weight or drink.

God is good.

Gabriella Moonlight said...

I love all of Annie LaMott's books they are all amazing!!!! I have that quote on my's so true!

what a great post, the discernment of self from those we love and our own selves...and who we really are.


Thirsty Girl said...

Love this.

stf said...

thank you for writing this