I’ve been thinking about responsibility a lot lately.
Mostly because I have more than I can handle at the moment.
My mom’s in the poor health she’s in because she didn’t take very good care of herself. Maybe because back in the day, SHE had too much responsibility. A failing marriage, two (fabulous) daughters, ailing parents, ailing siblings…and she was always the classic martyr.
It didn’t serve her well.
I was at Dunkin Donuts the other day with my family, grabbing a quick breakfast before we hit the Pumpkin Patch Trolley. I was planning to be good…ordered an iced coffee and an egg-white flatbread. And then my husband came back to the table with six donuts…for four of us.
I ate my 3 donut halves.
And as I did so, that word popped into my head.
Don’t I have a responsibility to take care of myself? So that my daughters won’t have to? Eating those donuts, I concluded, was…IRRESPONSIBLE.
Later that night, after my husband had put the girls to bed, he mentioned that he had heard a report on the radio that cited a study that said most parents of overweight kids don’t even realize they are overweight.
I thought about our kids.
Little Sis has always been pudgy…such a cute baby. And now that she’s four, she’s grown out of it some. But not completely. She’s my grazer…she’d rather munch all day than sit at the table to eat. And she often makes good, healthy choices: an apple, or yogurt.
But not always. Sometimes it’s a lollipop from the pharmacy (gee, am I there often enough?).
Big Sis has always been long and lean. But lately, seeing her in her dance leotard…there’s a little pudge. Not much, but still. She’s always been a junk food junkie.
And it occured to me that it’s MY responsibility as their mother to ensure that they make good food choices.
When my depression was bad, I didn’t care who ate what at my house. As long as they didn’t bug ME about it. As a result, I bought a lot of (too many) convenience foods. Chips, crackers, granola bars….
I used to be a big foodie. When I first lost a lot of weight before Big Sis was born, I became a bit of a food snob. Once I’d educated myself on how to make healthier choices, I didn’t understand how I could ever go back. I knew our kids would be healthy eaters.
And then Big Sis came along. Ever since she learned to talk, she’s been rejecting most of what I serve her. But I persisted. “I’m such a good cook!” I thought. “She’ll grow up to be a good eater if it kills me!” I vowed.
Fast forward seven years. The kid and her food critique had worn me down. I had gone from making nutritious four-course meals with gourmet ingredients to nutritious kid-friendly meals to just macaroni and cheese and then finally, a bowl of (nutritious) cereal. Poured by her dad.
I do actually think it may have contributed to my depression. When one of the most important people in your life tells you 3-5 times a day that you SUCK at one of your major responsibilities, it stings.
I took Little Sis to the doctor yesterday for a suspected urinary tract infection (UTI). The doc pointed out that she’s “on the chubby side” and showed me on his chart that she’s…well, off the chart.
Another slug to the gut. That’d be my responsibility.
And the UTI? After literally an hour, a threat of catherterization, much crying (both of us) and screaming in pain (Little Sis), and three separate attempts at peeing in a cup, the doc tells me she’s got “four-year-old wiping syndrome.” Basically, she’s not drying herself off well enough, the area’s irritated and it burns when she pees.
Whose fault would that be? Oh, right. MINE.
So it seems someone’s been trying to tell me that I’ve been slacking on my responsibilies.
And even worse, history is repeating itself. My mom was overweight, I’m overweight (though I’ve been battling it for years), and now, so are my kids. Both of them. So even though we’re just typical Americans, I still feel like a failure.
A failure at fulfilling my responsibilities.