Thank you, Mom.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I should probably come up with a less sarcastic title for this blog entry (and after all there is a very, very slight chance my mother will actually see this someday, yikes!), but I really do kind of blame my Mom for certain unhealthy attitudes that still dominate my life. She is a wonderful woman, caring, giving, loving.... but she taught me to love being "bad." And, like I have for the past decade, she has struggled with her weight and self-image.

In Mom's vocabulary, "good" means eating food that is good for you, watching your intake, exercising, etc. Seems innocuous, doesn't it? But, "bad" means doing something fun. Like eating that chocolate cake (yum!) or having a private champagne tasting for no reason at all other than having fun.

My daily conversations with my mother go something like this:
Me: "Hey, how's it going?"
Mom: "Oh, I don't know... I was kind of bad, today. I was really good yesterday, but today when I went to bridge club I was just a little bit bad. I took my lunch and my diet drink, like I planned, and I didn't eat any of the cookies one of the other ladies brought, but then everyone else wanted to troop down to the cafeteria (at the senior center) and get some banana pudding, and I got some too. I didn't eat it all, just maybe a third of it."
Me: "Well, that's not too bad - you didn't eat it all. A little bit won't hurt you. And you didn't eat the cookies. That's great!"
Mom: "I guess. Now I just need to be extra good for the rest of the day."

Everything having to do with food is discussed in terms of degrees of good and bad (mostly bad). This really warps my thinking, because I have a real rebellious streak, and when I'm feeling down, or frustrated, I just want to do something BAD. That was always the consolation. Making the wrong choice has an extra thrill beyond the immediate gratification. Not only does the brownie taste great, but I get to feel naughty.

This is a very difficult pattern to change. It is one that I have been making a conscious effort not to pass along to my children, in the language that I use with them, but it still shapes my thoughts when I am not paying attention. I can't express the will-power it took for me not to stop and get something "bad" yesterday (although I'm sure lot's of you can identify) - like a chocolate duet cookie from Panera - everywhere I passed, my mind did a mental catalog of badness. It wasn't that I was hungry, it was definitely emotional self-sabotage. I clung to my long-term objectives with my fingernails and finally compromised by over-indulging in kettle corn. And eating too much of the low-fat pizza I made for dinner. Not a triumph, but not a complete disaster.

I can't claim that I really understand all that is going on with this fixation on being "bad" - some deep-seated emotional issues, for sure. But I am starting to think that I need to talk about it with my Mom. Maybe we can help each other change.
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