Blame the Mother

As you may have read in my last post, my sister was visiting over the weekend, and she shares my love of chocolate. Her visit got me thinking about my childhood and our family’s (I have four siblings) eating habits. Dinner time was early at our house (5 p.m.) and everyone was there unless they had a really good excuse. We didn’t linger at the table; we all had chores to do, namely milking the cows. (In addition to my dad being a full-time mail carrier, he decided to buy a small dairy farm as a “hobby.”)

We ate balanced meals but always followed them with dessert. My mom liked to bake pies and cakes and cookies, cinnamon rolls on Saturday mornings, coffee cakes on Sundays. If the cookie jar was empty, she went into panic baking mode, frantically grabbing ingredients to make one of the quick stand-bys whose recipe she knew by heart. We didn’t often have chocolate desserts, except for the occasional batch of brownies.

My mom would sit and watch us eat her creations, never having any dessert for herself. She was always on a diet. The result of her abstinence would be snitching sugar-laced items throughout the day, followed by guilt. She liked to run a finger along the inside of the ice-cream carton, believing, I guess, that if she didn’t get a spoon (or a dish for that matter), it didn’t really count.

If we learn how to respond to food from our parents, then my dad taught me if you put in a hard day’s work, you deserve that dessert. It’s true enough that we did so much physical labor on the farm, we never had to worry about the calories. But my metabolism has slowed way down since I was a teen! Plus, I’m not throwing hay bales around so much anymore. My mom’s strategy of deprivation, followed by binging didn’t work too well either, though I think it’s a pretty common combination, one that many women either observed growing up or face themselves.



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