Home > Uncategorized > Conversation with my mother

Conversation with my mother

So I haven’t talk about my mom yet. That’s surprising, because my mom and I tend to engender a lot of friction. I’m not sure why this is — we got along pretty well when I was a kid. I have theories, but I won’t bore you with them now.

I will discuss this wacky dynamic that has sprung up since I had The Child. As best evidenced by a conversation that I had with her yesterday.

“Well,” I said, discussing The Child’s ridiculous amount of clothing. “She’s so tall and so thin that I’ve been taking last summer’s jeans and putting them on her and calling them capris.”

Mom laughed. And then, she honed right in on the one major irrational insecurity I have with The Child: Her weight. (I have other insecurity, but they are rational. This one is left over from the first, drama-fraught months of trying to get my breastmilk to come in.)

“She’s thin? Is she gaining enough weight? Is she okay?”

“Yes,” I assured her, patiently, calmly. I don’t let my mom see my insecurities anymore. No need to add ammunition to her arsenal. “She’s fine. Her father is tall and thin. She’s eating like a horse, it’s just that she’s active as a monkey so it’s hard to keep weight up to the same percentile as her height.”

Up until now, it’s a totally reasonable, rational conversation. And then Mom throws me for a loop.

“Is she getting enough good fats? I want to be sure her brain is getting enough fats.” As I boggle at this, she continues. “Does she eat vegetables? Fruit? You’re not feeding her cookies are you? I wish you would stop feeding her white bread.”

Now, to truly understand why I’m being boggled, you have to understand my culinary history. In my childhood, Coca-Cola was served at every meal except breakfast and was the main snack of choice. “Vegetables” usually consisted of a can of lima beans and a can of stewed tomatoes, cooked together with a quarter cup of bacon lard until the whole thing was a uniformly pinkish khaki color and served over rice. Mom was murder of sugar cereals — no Kix, no Trix, no Cap’n Crunch — but didn’t have a problem with serving us a whole pound of Oreos.

In short, what nutritional information I have, I learned through brute strength of will.

And I learned it. I learned to cook, I studied the science and art of food. I eat a remarkably healthy diet — my nutritionist says so. If I could just control the ice cream and cookies thing, I’d be thin. But The Child gets a stunningly healthy diet: 7 grain cereal with whole milk yogurt and flax seed oil for breakfast. Applesauce and veggies for snack. Lean turkey and avocado on whole-grain bread for lunch. You get the idea.

Also, because I’m that kind of person, I own more books on nutrition, childhood nutrition, etc. than the local library. (Seriously — I checked them all out.) My Mom knows that.

So for her to start giving my the third degree about The Child’s diet was weird. But not the weird part. No, that came after I reassured her that I was making sure The Child was getting lots of good fats (the avocado) and plenty of Omega-3s (the flax-seed oil) and lots of protein, etc….

“Oh, you know so much more than I did,” she demurred. “You’re a much better mother than I was. I just didn’t know a thing!”

What the hell do I say to that?

She says crap like that all the time, too. Her doctor told her it was OK to smoke throughout pregnancy and she didn’t know better. She weaned me off the bottle at nine months because she didn’t know better. She wished she’d breastfed but it just wasn’t something that women did back then and she didn’t know better.

I think part of it is a pre-emptive strike — I can’t ding her for what she did wrong if she dings herself first. (I never ding her. I may say that I’m doing such-and-such and this is why I’m doing it, but I never diss her parenting skills. Ever. Even before The Child.) But it also puts me in an awkward way — should I reassure her that she did fine? That would be a lie — a bad and hard-to-believe lie. I don’t think even she believes her old wheeze about the doctor’s advice about smoking in pregnancy.

It’s just a weird thing that happens a lot when we’re talking about The Child.  And I don’t know how to deal with it. Which means it’s much like the rest of my motherhood.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. May 10, 2007 at 2:16 am

    You could always turn to her and say, “You could say that.” I bet it would floor her.

    Really, I think she is baiting you. You know you cant be a good mother without a whole lot of martyr. I am saying all mine for when my daughter has a baby, too.

  2. May 10, 2007 at 4:29 am

    It sounds like she’s feeling a bit guilty if you ask me! And maybe she is overcompensating. I mean, she raised you, you were her practice kid, now that she has a grandchild, she is that much more knowledgeable.

  3. karrie
    May 10, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    I think they just cannot help themselves. My mom is pretty laidback, but she has made several weird comments along those lines lately too. I just ignore it, FTMP.

  4. May 10, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    I think our moms worry that we are judging how they raised us. If it doesn’t make you crazy to say it, I would tell her “Well you did the best you could with the information you had” and leave it at that.

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