Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mothers and Daughters

This is for all you moms with daughters out there. Our daughters look to their fathers to judge men. They look at how their father treats their mom and how he treats them. It goes even further. Our daughters will look at how he treats his own mother, even picking up how he talks about her. That is their basis for what a man is supposed to be. I know this is what I did.

Our daughters will look to their mothers, us, to judge themselves. We did the same thing growing up. Our mothers were the cornerstone of our own self worth. We look to our mothers to tell us the truth. We look to our mothers to tell us how to feel about ourselves. This is a balancing act of massive proportions.

The entire time we are growing up, we are bombarded with images of what a body should look like. It is all over the television, magazines, and fashion sites on the internet. We are supposed to be a certain size and dress a certain way. Without our mother’s influence, it can become a very troublesome and time consuming issue we lose control of quickly.

I have to preface the next part of this post by saying that I love my mother dearly and she has had some serious health issues in the last few years that could have taken her. I do not want that and I am not ready for that yet. I love my mom and would do anything for her.

When I was a child, I grew up with a mother who was very concerned with appearances. I can remember as a very young child wearing clothing that she thought was the best for me. Now I realize that is normal. We all choose our kids’ clothes. Otherwise they would look like they’d been drug out of the closet and may not have been washed before they were worn again. That is a typical kid thing to do. What I didn’t know at the time was how much more that had to do with my mom’s way of looking at things as opposed to the normal mom thing about kids clothes.

She always made sure my hair was done a certain way, my clothes were done a certain way, and I acted a certain way. Although that’s normal to a degree, it didn’t really change to accommodate my age. In other words, she ruled with an iron hand long after it was necessary. Throughout all of this, I was aware that she felt I did not measure up when it came to my physical attractiveness.

It was never that she said that. Believe me that would not have come out of her mouth. It was in comments that were made over the years. I remember being in junior high and looking at my mom’s wedding outfit. She got married in a small ceremony and did not have a wedding dress. I asked her if I could try it on. Her response was that I wouldn’t be able to wear it. I thought that was odd, because I knew what size I wore and I should have been able to wear it. When I tried to tell her I thought I could, she insisted I would not be able to because she was so much smaller than I was.

The problem with this was that I really wasn’t any bigger than she was. That was when my obsession with the scales became more and more prevalent. From then on, I watched them. After I graduated from high school, I lost more weight. I think it was because I was started working more hours and some odd hours, so I wasn’t eating as much as when I had a schedule. I was also working overtime at one job and had an additional job helping friends of mine with their dairy cattle. I got pretty thin. I stayed that way for several years.

When I got married, I was still really thin, but I was healthy. The thing is I was pregnant with my first child. No one knew it because I didn’t show until I was almost 5 months pregnant. What happened the last couple of months though was not so much fun. I developed a health issue with the pregnancy. My blood pressure didn’t skyrocket like some, but it did stay elevated. Part of that is weight gain that is a bit above normal. I gained about 50 pounds during the entire pregnancy.

My mom informed me that she gained about that much too but walked out of the hospital with only 6 to lose to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight. I walked out of the hospital needing to lose about 30 to even come close to where I was before I got pregnant. I never did lose it but I heard about her weight loss more than a couple of times. One summer when I was young, she only weighed 110. I know because I’ve heard about that. My weight, on the other hand, has continued to fluctuate every since.

The last time I heard about the weight issue was when I said to her, “I know Mom. I’ve always weighed more than you.” That was only a few months ago. I was reminded how she feels about appearances the other morning when we were watching CNN. A female politician came on camera talking about her ideas and she said, “She isn’t a very pretty woman is she?”

That’s when I realized why my self esteem was so low. She always told me I was smarter than she was, but she always made me feel I didn’t measure up in the looks department. It was never overt, but it flew under the surface. There is a reason why I’m telling you this.

Please do not feel I resent my mom for any of this. I understand some things now that I did not when I was younger. She still has some of those tendencies but I know how to deal with them better than I used to. She is who she is and she will not change.

I don’t want any of you to make the same mistake. Your daughter’s self esteem will suffer terribly if she feels she can’t measure up to you. You are her model of how to be a woman. I know that because I have done things with my daughter I shouldn’t have because I didn’t know any better. I didn't learn this lesson until it was too late. Please, learn from this.

2 comments:

  1. My mom (and yes I do love her more than anything) always has and always will remind me how I'm her least favorite of her 4 daughters... It's just the way it is. I've learned to accept it. In a way I'm glad I don't have kids, no risk of making anybody feel as yucky as she's achieved with me.

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  2. AMAZINGGGGGGGGGG post!

    I was just talking to my daughter the other day..and she was telling me someone made a comment to her at school about her weight. I asked her how she felt about that and she said; "I think I look fabulous..so I don't care what anyone else thinks." I couldn't help it..I patted myself on the back! I'm doing something right!

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