I’m not telling this story for sympathy; I would not change a thing about my past, it is part and parcel of who I have become and I’m pretty damn proud of who I am, but as I lay in bed thinking about Carlos’s note, I thought of my mother and the similar journey we took together – and also how it was different. The biggest difference was that I accompanied my mother on her pursuit of sobriety purely as support, while for awhile Carlos was right next to me in the battle of the bulge.
You see, when he was younger, Carlos and I were fat together. In earlier posts I’ve told the story of how my obesity followed a miscarriage when Carlos was only two, and though at that time we were both normal weights, when he hit about five years old he started to get heavier, right along with me. I worried about the influence of my crazy, out-of-control issues on my son. Was he genetically cursed or imitating my self-punishing behavior? Either way, I could blame myself. Though he was always popular, we both suffered the social ramifications of being among the obese. On top of the pain of my own loss, I blamed myself as I struggled to find “husky” clothes to fit my son.
But then Carlos’s height took off and his weight stayed the same. His natural athletic abilities emerged (clearly a genetic gift from his father). As I watched the strong, broad-shouldered man’s body emerge from beneath the chubby layers of middle school, I breathed a deep sigh of relief. He could escape my fate. I hadn’t ruined him.
I know, I know, I’m hard on myself, but I don’t think enough parents take responsibility for the rapidly expanding bodies of our children. I mean, who are they modeling? Yes, there are some exceptions, but most eating habits are learned by watching the first adults we are exposed to, and I’m the first to admit I was not a good influence. Partner that with a slim, fit father who eats nothing all day and then consumes a massive, carb-filled dinner, and your waistline is doomed.