Every time I walk by the mirror these days, I do a double take. The woman I see there is not me. It can’t be. The woman I see is old, overweight, and puffy faced. Yup – it has finally happened – I look like my Mom. Damn.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I loved my Mother and Father very dearly. My Mom died 17 years ago in March, and my Dad died 13 years ago in March. (No, I don’t think there is a coincidence there. My Dad just wanted to leave the work of this world after Mom had gone.) There is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t think of then, and wish I could call them up and chat about my day. We didn’t live close together when my children were little, and I really wanted (and needed) them around. My kids grew up only knowing their grandparents in one week visits. They knew they were loved and adored, but they didn’t get to “go to Grandma’s house” for a sleepover, or run away from home to Grandma’s. They remember the famous soft dinner buns my Mom would make for us after our 18 hour drive to visit. Then there was her amazing carrot cake with cream cheese icing that made us all want dessert first please. She would have baked for days so we could have an abundance of cookies, cakes, buns and every favourite food for each of us. Dad would laughing tell the kids to help themselves to the garden and not complain when there were no peas left on the vine, or strawberries to pick.
I was always the skinny one in the family. Barely 100 pounds even after 3 children, I was 5 foot 6 inches tall and really tiny. Then I had child number 4 and my metabolism completely changed. I lost the ability to feel full. I could eat a meal and then eat another one. I used to joking say that I grew tired of chewing, rather than feeling full. Then I started the weight gain. It was gradual at first, until by her 18th birthday I was a size 14 from a size 6. Ok – that was liveable.
Now I am up to a size 18 with large flabby arms, a big belly, thick wrists and chubby fingers. My hair is thinning (and has been over the last 8 years). Lately my face has been very puffy, either from allergies or just too much fat. My eyes are usually puffy in the mornings and stay that way most of the day. My body is becoming my enemy. It lets me down when I want to get going. It gives up too easily. It does not reflect who I am inside. When did this happen? When did I cross over that line into the old fat lady?
Now I know that many of you are saying, “So why doesn’t she just exercise? go to the gym? go swimming? She is choosing to be that way. What is the matter with her?” Well, believe me, I have said all those things and more to myself. This is where it gets rather weird – I am ok being the soft, cuddly Grandma to my grandchildren. I am willing to embrace my 61 years and proudly say, “No regrets!” Until I pass that mirror in the hall. That is when it happens – OMG! Who is that woman? She looks really old and fat. She doesn’t look even “ok” let alone pretty. I never felt pretty, but I could honestly say I dressed well, and looked good. Now that I don’t dress up every day for the office (and even when I do) I look . . . hmm . . . dowdy. Clothes don’t fit well. Nothing looks good on this body. I used to love bright colored tops and sweaters. My dresses looked good, even if they were a size Large. Now my wardrobe is black, brown, dark. No blouses fit over these flabby arms. No skirts can be more than 10 inches from the floor in case you see my chubby knees. Forget belts! No jeans in this closet. I should soon be buying those awful fleece pants with elastic waists (none in my closet, yet, thank heavens!) I actually thought of heading out to Walmart to buy a man’s oversized sweatshirt today! Really!
I don’t know where this is heading, but I sense a crisis coming towards me. I hope my self esteem can take it.