As I was washing the dishes, she was scooping ice cream into her coffee. I was wondering when I could slip the twenty bucks she’d loaned me back into her purse. I knew eventually she’d have to go to the bathroom, so I just hoped she wouldn’t go through the junk drawer where I’d stashed it. I just wanted to put it in her purse and text her later and tell her where it was. I didn’t want to have a conversation about it. I just didn’t want to keep money that would give her the license to tell me how to do everything differently.
It was nice of her to come over, just for coffee, since I usually complain that she only comes over for me to cook her food. I made her beerocks a few days ago.
She poked me gently in the belly with the spoon she’d been using to scoop her ice cream and stir it into the coffee. In a little baby voice, she said, “Ooh, you’ve got a little tummy! Liiiitle tummy!” I looked up from the dishes. Gosh, I hadn’t noticed that I’d gained ten pounds over the past few years. Are there any pimples you’d like to point out to me? Of course, I didn’t say any of this out loud.
“It’s not a criticism,” she said. “But do you think you should go to the doctor? To make sure it isn’t something else?”
“It’s just a little tummy,” I said, peeling off my rubber gloves so I could make my escape. “I’ve also got a little ass and some big boobs. I’m just fat, mom.”
“Do you know why? Why you got this way? I know it’s not a popular subject, but calorie counting is really the best way to go. Write it down! I’ll stop bringing snack foods.”
I am too mad and too embarrassed to laugh. When she comes over after work, she eats like a locust who only goes for carbs. She begs and guilts me into baking her a banana bread or beerocks, heating up the kitchen even when it is near 110 degrees outside. If she is over at dinner time, she is despondent if I’ve used onions or garlic (it’s like wolfsbane to her) or sometimes she will dig in anyway, only to waste the food by complaining that it is too hard/chewy/spicy/rich/__fill in the blank__ and she’ll toss out the serving. We are really broke. That tossed out serving was somebody’s lunch.
Yes, stop bringing snack foods. That will help.
Also, here’s an idea. I’m not actually fat. Yes, I have gained a little weight. But! I’ve been doing yoga and cutting out snacking. I’ve been drinking water instead of snacking. My clothes are beginning to fit a little better, but when I get all PMSy and bloaty, well, all my progress disappears for a week. It is slow going, because snacking is what got me here, slowly, and not snacking will bring me back out again. Also slowly. But my pants and skirts are all mediums, and so are most of my shirts– but let’s face it, I have big boobs that got bigger after I had a child. I’m not going to complain about that. Sometimes I’m going to need a large shirt.
And how was that not a critical moment? Does anybody ever say, “That kitten is so cute! You’d better take it to the vet to see why it is so cute!” I was feeling good, even happy, until I got poked in my “little tummy” with an ice cream spoon.
This conversation sent me into a tailspin. It was like I was living at home again. Before, you know, home had turned into a hoarder’s paradise. If you want to talk about what’s wrong, let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about how your house is so full of crap that even though you’ve been without water in the house for two weeks, you would rather go play guitar with strangers than clean a pathway through to the bathroom, so a plumber can come in? Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about how I have nightmares that you’ve died in that tomb of a place, and I can’t get you out.
She can’t cook because of hoarding, and now there’s no water and she can’t fix it– because of hoarding.
But I’ve gained ten pounds over the course of eight years. Maybe I should go to the doctor!
She’s not a bad person. She tries to help me when she can. I’m a failure in my own way– jobless, careerless, my hands tied by my own insecurities. I’m definitely not perfect, and often feel like I’m a huge stone, taking the little boat with my husband and daughter down into an abysmal ocean. Other days, I think, “No, I’m a mom! A good one! I can do this! I can change my career path!” and I was having one of those latter days– until she, well-meaning in her own way– came over to visit.
Eventually I’ll crawl back out of my hole, but it will take a while because I’ll be wanting a snack the whole entire time.