“You have no style Mom,” my youngest remarked teasing as we stepped out of an elevator in the mall, “only weenies wear turtlenecks.” I stopped and stared into the nearest mirror. I was wearing an oversized gray sweater, bland, white cotton turtleneck, stretchy pants, and sneakers. My hair was pulled back in a ponytail. No makeup. As I studied myself in the mirror I said, “I’ve become a frumpy housewife.”
My attire was in stark contrast to the trim mannequins in the store windows. They were decked out in skimpy dresses and pants that I probably only would have fit into in second grade.
My problem isn’t that I don’t know what to wear. It’s that nothing fits. I discussed this distressing situation with my son who is about to fly home for the holidays. “Mom you started wearing stretchy pants in your 30s,” he told me. “Whatever happened to jeans?” Jeans just don’t seem to fit me well with my middle-age belly bulge. “You gave up too early,” my son said, suggesting a vegetarian diet.
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An older woman who overheard my daughter sassing me in the elevator tried to console me. “It’s a phase she’ll outgrow,” the woman said thinking she was talking to a novice. People always assume that my youngest is my first and only child because I had her in my forties. I actually don’t mind when my daughter pokes fun. Children are innocent and tell us the truth that no one else will except maybe our mothers.
I hate having to watch my weight. I’ve had to do it my entire adult life. I find that I gain the most at the holidays. I’m cold, cooped up, and temptation is everywhere. Every Christmas cookie, piece of cake, or glass of wine has my name on it. My husband certainly doesn’t help matters. He has his own small business and clients always bring him sweets that he takes home. “Oh go ahead,” he says encouraging me to eat, “it’s the holidays.” Just for the record, he considers National Potato Chip Day, National Elephant Appreciation Day, and Festivus holidays.
I also get very anxious at the Christmas holidays and I overeat. The stress comes from all of the errands and worry. I fret over whether I’ve sent enough cards, bought enough gifts, prepared enough meals. I worry that even though my reverend tells us to pray for peace, parishioners are praying for presents. I worry that the Elf on the Shelf told Santa that I regifted the waffle iron my mother-in-law gave me. I’m worried that when my mother-in-law visits she’ll ask for a waffle.