Until I became ill at 38 years of age, my average weight had been 140 lbs. A bowel resection later, 13 additional procedures including 3 laparoscopies, a total hysterectomy, and multiple hormone treatments to combat endometriosis, my weight soared to 170 lbs. Add to it 6 years of living in an area that has spring for 3 months, 2 months of fall, and 7 months of winter—no, I’m not kidding—including several months of weather below zero degrees, I have grown to 183 lbs. We did move to sunny Florida in May of this year, 2014, but the humidity and miserable heat of the summer months, June through the end of September, did not help any. I didn’t gain more weight but certainly did not lose any either. So here I find myself—ugly mommy . . .
Ugly mommy does not have a good connotation for me. My mother, who was beautiful when she got married, let herself go over the years. She went from 130 lbs. to over 220 by the time I was a teenager. No make up. Old jeans. Sometimes, she never changed during the day from her nightclothes, and old pair of frayed, baby blue shorts, and a tank top so worn out that you could see through the bare threads. Her hair was always a disaster, for no reason, since she was a stay-at-home mom. At first, it didn’t bother me; she was my mother, and I loved her. But as I grew older, I became more and more conscious of the fact that my mother was the only mother I knew that looked like THAT all of the time. She was always a sloppy mess.
I can tell you in all frankness that my mother did not embarrass me with this behavior. I always felt sorry for her, which I believe was probably worse. So, I never turned to my mother for tips on how to wear makeup or dress. I figured it all out on my own and took my lumps as I went. By my mid 20’s, I was a snazzy looking professional and could really pull myself together for special events. I took my mother to a department store, got her clothes and make up, and encouraged her to look better. This seemed to help, and she picked herself up from the everyday doldrums. I thought that was the end of it, but it wasn’t.
As I began struggling with my weight, I worried incessantly that I would become “ugly mommy.” It was bad enough that I was older mother and looked older than my kids’ friends’ parents; my girls should not have to deal with an ugly mommy too! Then I realized two things: 1) My real fear was being an absent mother just as my mother had been, her appearance was a reflection of her emotional absenteeism, and 2) Thin people can be slobs too!
Does this matter at all? Yes, it does! It is part of the constant self-reflection that determines the type of mother I am willing to be. I have never felt a helpless victim to primary socialization, difficult to beat yes, but the more conscious you are of how your past shapes you, the more power you have to determine your present!