Brittany’s writing prompt number 8 asks what we wished our mother’s would have told us about body image.
Last night a dear friend’s mother passed away.
These two things got me thinking in all kinds of spirally directions, as I am wont to do on occasion.
My mom. Growing up I remember some really distinct things. She had really long beautiful hair. I always wanted my hair to be like hers. I used to sit on her bed and watch her comb through it after a shower. Now of course her hair is much shorter and mine is long and I wondered, as I reflected on the subject of mom’s today, if my daughters ever look at my hair the same way when they watch me brush it out. How do they see me? I saw my mother as many things.
Strong, beautiful, laughing, serious. She had magical hands when I was a little girl that could calm me just by laying them on my head. She made amazing things with those same hands that fuelled my desire to learn to sew, cook, hold babies.
When it comes to the question of body image, I would say my mother taught most by action. I never heard her talk about “feeling fat”. Not once that I can remember. She was not shy with her body either which is probably why I feel so comfortable with nudity even now. But, even with these great qualities, we never really talked about body image.
Could have been because up until I had children, I was very thin with a fast metabolism. I could eat a lot of my family under the table and it just seemed to disappear onto my 5’11”, 145lb frame. I burned it off with my very active life.
But conversations on body image weren’t big in my house. Perhaps it is because it wasn’t such a prevalent topic as it is today. There wasn’t the giant magnifying glass of scrutiny that today’s girls seem to have all around them. Or maybe it was there and I just didn’t notice. Body image wasn’t an issue for me until I was much older and had added several layers of padding to my tall frame. What I wish we *had* talked about more than body image was self image and self acceptance. Though in fairness I was very good at hiding my insecurities so if she had known, I’m sure we would have had that conversation.
When I heard from my friend Danette this morning that her mother had passed, my heart instantly ached. My mother and I have had our fair share of major differences through the years, but when I lost my job last week, all I wanted to do was call my mom. The thought that one day, for me as well, this option will be no longer made me well-up with tears. My mother, even with our differences, is an anchor for me. She was the first woman hero I ever had and has held that spot for a long time.
It’s not the first time I have watched a friend lose a mother. A few years ago, my dearest and oldest friend Sarah lost hers, and her mother was one of those ladies who was a mother-figure to me for many years. Two years ago, Deborah, a woman I came to know when I was twelve and who also was one of those strong mother figures for me, also passed away.
When a mother dies, whether she’s your biological mother, your best friends’ mother or someone who you had looked up to in a mothering way, a part of you dies with her. This is the person who helped form and sculpt who you are, good, bad and silly. She is linked with us in a way that no other person is.
My mother is right now in Scotland on holiday. She is still in her sixties and, god willing, has many, many more years left in her before we have to start thinking of *life after*. Which is a blessing, and one I feel more today than ever.
I love you, Mum. And I thank you for being one of the most important women in my life.