“You truly are looking amazing mom!! I am proud of you!♥”
I think any mother would well up seeing a note like this on her Facebook wall for all to see, but coming from a 15-year-old son, it is nothing short of miraculous. I had just posted a series of photographs from our recent Halloween gathering and people were commenting on my costume and recent weight loss.
Like his father, my son is not very effusive, so when he says something of the non-critical persuasion, it means a whole lot. But this note was above and beyond any he had ever done. Though raising a teenage boy is often like wrestling with a six-foot porcupine, on this weight-loss quest I have always felt his strong and supportive presence behind me, equal parts a kick in the ass and a pat on the back. Though I often worried about passing on my eating issues to my son, I think the smartest thing I’ve ever done was to invite him along on my journey from obesity. Truthfully, it is something I have some experience with myself.
Hello my name is Ann, and I’m the daughter of an alcoholic.
Yes, I’m one of the many who grew up hiding car keys, doing the household laundry at 11, and generally trying to keep my mother alive. My father died when I was eight, so by that point it was just me, my older brother John, and a mother who found solace at the bottom of a bottle of Bacardi. And yes, the experience essentially robbed me of any real chance at childhood. However, Mom sobered up when I was 12, and did something that basically saved our relationship: she brought me along in her recovery.
From the minute she came back from rehab, she brought me with her to open AA meetings. I baked cakes for people who were celebrating their anniversaries, and eventually ended up running the local Alateen meeting. The thing is, there really wasn’t any semblance of a traditional mother-daughter relationship between us, but as a result of this shared healing experience we developed our own kind of relationship, and ended up as close as a mother and daughter could be.
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.