Tuesday, December 1, 2009
A Deck of Daughters
I've been both fat and thin, or rather, I've been both thin then fat, then thin, then fat, then thin. Multiply that times ten, because this went on for twenty-five years, so I know what I'm talking about here. When I was fat, my mother saw only the good in me, which was very, very nice. She was complimentary, encouraging, and accepting. Rather than see me miserable, she'd go out shopping with me for a fat wardrobe.
But if I lost a microscopic fraction of one pound, she was all over it like a wolf. In my twenties I'd slunk in the house from my weekly torturous weigh in at Weight Watchers and I don't really think she had a spycam on my house, but let's just say that somehow the phone would ring immediately.
"How'd you do?" No beating around the bush for my mom.
"A pound, Ma. I lost a pound."
Then I'd hear her real estate amortization calculator clicking and clacking in the background as she did the complicated math.
"If I average your gains with your losses and amortize that out over 52 weeks, by this time next year, you'll be down thirty pounds. Can you imagine?"
And I'd kind of get a little caught up in the fantasy. "Thirty pounds?"
"Just in time for the wedding!" For awhile there in the 1980s, our family seemed to be having a lot of weddings. "Maybe we should buy a dress now. Saks is having a sale. You don't want to wait till the last minute." And then, caught up in the excitement of that one pound weight loss, I'd buy a dress that never fit me, ever.
But she's not fooling me, what she really loves is thin. Not too thin, like not anorexic. She doesn't want to worry about us dying, after all. But to have a bevy of daughters to brag about, to brag about the size of clothes we wear, this is what really lights her fire. Forget the personal accomplishments! Forget the college degrees, raising our children, forget everything. Let's get down to the important stuff: what size are our pants?
And, of course, that's what happens to me. I'm at our Thanksgiving Day party and I hear the yell across the room, "Linda! What size are your pants?"
I glare at her wondering if she'd like me to take them off so she can examine the size label herself?
But I know that to my mother, her seven daughters are like her resume - our beauty or lack thereof, or thinness, or lack thereof, are a direct reflection on her. She wants to have a card deck of beautiful thin daughters to fan out in front of everyone she talks to to show what she made. A full deck, a straight flush, a deck of daughters.