Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In which I get it from my mom

Given I'm the mother of three, you'd think I would enjoy Mother's Day. But, truth be told, I don't. At all.

I enjoy being a mom. I enjoy my children (most of the time, LOL). But I don't enjoy the actual holiday because my mom is no longer with me. To make matters worse, her birthday was May 9, so it always falls the same week of (if not on) Mother's Day.

In fact, next month she'll be gone 25 years so, sadly, she's been absent from my life far longer than she was in it.

I think of her multiple times, every day, and Sunday was no exception. Because it was "my" day, I got to sleep in, enjoy a leisurely breakfast in bed thanks to the kids (LUNA Chocolate Raspberry bar and a Diet Coke, my favorites), and then go on my planned 5-mile run.

It was a lovely day to run: gorgeously sunny and bright, a little on the warm side. I ran, and I thought a lot about my mother. With her birthday passing again and Mother's Day upon me, she was on my mind, to put it mildly.

Since I lost my weight, people have paid me ridiculously generous compliments, a common one being: "You're an inspiration. How do you keep it up?"

As I ran Sunday I realized that the endurance comes from my mother. In her early 30s she was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. She soldiered through years of dialysis, an ultimately failed kidney transplant and a host of related issues (broken hip, limited mobility).

She not only endured her trials, but she did it with a positive attitude. I was young, for sure, but I never remember her taking a poor-me attitude. She was relentlessly positive and strong, and if she ever felt down by her circumstances - and I'd be shocked if she didn't - she never did so around me or my younger brother.

She simply played the hand she was dealt as best she could. Her medical issues (dialysis, repeat hospitalizations, side effects from medicine) were just a part of daily life. They didn't phase her, so they didn't phase us.

I realized on Sunday that, on a much less serious plane, I do the same thing. My losing was just part of my daily life. My maintenance is a part of my daily life. My activity is part of my daily life. I'm playing the hand I have been dealt. I am active and I live a Weight Watchers lifestyle because it's what I have to do, so I do it. End of story.

"Yeah," I hear, "But you have three young kids. And you work. How do you do it?"

I just do. I soldier through, I endure with a smile (most of the time) like my mom. And I am lucky to do so.

Thinking this through Sunday, I realized that no one would be prouder of my weight-loss efforts than my mother. No one.

She was a chubby kid who grew into an slightly overweight teen. I've seen pictures of her in her teen years and she slimmed down considerably when she hit her later years of high school. I have no idea how she did it, I can add that question to the laundry list of "Things I Wish I Could Ask My Mom As An Adult."

As an overweight girl herself, you can understand how difficult it was for her to have an overweight daughter - and I was not merely "overweight." She walked a fine line of urging me to lose vs. harassing me about it - I never felt pressured or punished for my inability to do so.

As the mother of two girls today, I can only imagine how desperate she felt to get me to a healthy weight and what restraint it took to walk that line between "I love you the way you are" and "You need to lose weight."

Ironically, when she died I was a couple of months into a successful "diet" - I think it was Diet Center. I had lost 25 lbs and after my mother died, my aunt told me that one of the last things my mother ever told her from her hospital bed was how proud she was of me for losing that weight (I still had much more to go).

I know my aunt meant well and was probably trying to keep me motivated in some weird-ass way, but, damn. I was 16. My mother just died. Do you really think I gave a crap about losing weight? I can assure I did not, and it stayed that way for a decade.

Anyway, if my mother was proud of me on her death bed for losing 25 lbs, imagine what she'd feel today. No one would have been a bigger cheerleader and no one would have been more proud. Sure, I know she would love me regardless of my size, but I know her heart would swell with relief over the fact I took care of business in that department and could enjoy my life to the fullest extent.

Even though we've been parted for a quarter-century now, my mom is my true inspiration. How do I do it? I just remember her endurance, her positive attitude and her unconditional love.

After mulling over this all in my head for about an hour, my 5 miles were up. I was hot and sweaty, and as I removed my sunglasses I could wipe the tears out of my eyes and make it look like it was sweat, in case anyone was watching.

I hopped in the car and drove the short distance home, then marshaled the kids for a photo, just like I did last year. Happy Mother's Day, indeed.


  1. Melissa, I never realized how much Marley looks like you! In that picture with your Mom, that is Marley for sure.

    I hate Mother's Day, too. I don't think there will ever come a time when we don't miss our mothers. (((hugs)))

  2. Thank you for writing this. I lost my Mom three years ago. It's good to know it's perfectly normal to always miss her.

  3. She would be more than proud of you! As mothers, we want our children to be happy and healthy throughout life and you are definite example of how both can be achieved through hard work and determination. Buzz is nodding in agreement from above.