like a mother’s day card, only slightly longer

It took me months and months to tell my mother I had gotten weight-loss surgery, and I still regret that. The only reason I emailed her, the morning I was going in, and told her that I had to be operated on, I was okay, I have a stomach ailment, was because my boyfriend at the time told me he really, really didn’t want to have to call her up out of nowhere and tell her, Um, your daughter’s dead. Sorry, bye! And uh, I kind of didn’t blame him.

But I was terrified to tell her, and there was no good reason for that–my mother is not a terrifying woman. She is, perhaps, the furthest thing from terrifying you will ever meet. She is very petite and very beautiful. She’s got tiny hands and a loud voice and a louder laugh (I got that from her), and she loves to be silly. She is very silly, but so remarkably strong, very brave, ridiculously organized and efficient, kind, and compassionate. She’s never been a gourmet cook, but she is a hell of a crocheter. My mother is an amazing woman, and not terrifying at all, and I was still absolutely unable to tell her what I was doing; months later, I was completely unable to tell her what I had done.



For months, I kept up the ruse, with her, that I had diverticulitis,
that I had to be careful with my diet, and so I was losing a ton of
weight, and wasn’t she going to be surprised when I showed up at my
brother’s wedding and had lost a hundred pounds in eight months! And
she asked after me, every time she called, and she was concerned about
my medical ailments and I felt terrible every time we talked, until finally I told her. I said, “I got weight loss surgery, mom.” She said,
“I know.” She said she wished I had told her, that she had just been
waiting for me to say something. My mother is a classy lady.

Why didn’t I tell her? I can’t say for sure why I didn’t tell her.
Because I was afraid she’d worry. Because I was afraid she’d try to
talk me out of it, or think I was doing something foolish–as if I were
telling her all over again I was moving to New York, or to San
Francisco, or enacting another of my wacky, harebrained schemes that
would end only when someone loses an eye.

Or because I was so scared of disappointing her. I couldn’t diet the
weight off, so I was getting surgery. We had been on diets together for
our whole lives; we had been trying together, and hoping together, that
someday, one of them would work and something would click and we’d be
eating healthy and taking care of our hearts and running marathons
together because finally we had done it and found the secret cure. And
I had given up on that possibility, and I didn’t want her to think less
of me.

My mother is a remarkable woman, and when I told her, she was only
happy for me. When I showed her this site, she was so very proud of me.
She has always been so proud of me, even when I’ve felt like I haven’t
deserved it. She’s always loved me, even when I’ve been incredibly
difficult to love. And I have always and always–even when I didn’t
recognize it, had forgotten it, had denied it–been so lucky to have
her for a mother. As an adult, I am so lucky to know her as a person.

  1 comment for “like a mother’s day card, only slightly longer

  1. May 10, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    A mother’s approval always seems like such a lofty goal, doesn’t it? Or, is that just me and mine?
    Thing is, chances are that they’re going to be proud of us no matter what we do, as long as we do our best, and when we’re happy, they’re happy.

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