Sunday night my mother slept over at my house while my husband was out of town. After the kids went to bed she and I folded laundry and had a conversation about the concerns we each have about the ramifications of our moving plans. (My husband and me moving to a larger house that would have rooms for her and my father to stay in when they visit rather than them maintaining a house here anymore.)

I talked about my concerns about carrying the costs of a larger house and the strain it will have on our budget.

I talked about my concerns that she feel at home in my house and yet needing to maintain it as my house, not hers.

I talked about my concerns about everyone feeling as though they are being treated fairly.

I talked about my concerns that we not sell our house before we know where we are going since I have two small kids and we need something really specific that there aren’t a lot of out there on the market.

Some of the concerns she brought up I agreed with, some I thought were a bit unnecessary, but one brought me up short in light of my own issues. She said she was worried about the fact that “we eat differently” and that she’s afraid I “won’t let her have her food”. I asked her to clarify and realized that she was talking primarily about my son’s food allergy but she also said, “will you let me have chocolate covered almonds in the house”?

I immediately responded that of course she could have chocolate covered almonds in the house and I even made a joke about dedicating an entire shelf in the pantry to her cereal and crackers. I also reassured her that I have a ton of stuff in the house that I don’t eat; whole cabinets dedicated to snacks both my kids eat, other cabinets dedicated to snacks my daughter can have but my son can’t, other sets of things my husband and daughter eat but my son and I don’t. It’s kind of a hodgepodge of stuff here.

But in the days since our conversation I have been thinking a lot about this interaction and realized two important things that have both helped my sense of self and my feelings of success in my war with my eating disorder, and shed some major light on the three pointed relationship of my mother, food, and me.

The first is that I really do have a house full of food that I can’t eat and that I don’t even really think about it ever. I even handle it on a daily basis while filling my kids’ lunchboxes and serving them dinner and dessert. It passes through my hands and I never for a second think of it stopping in my hands or heading towards my mouth. The jar of Easter candy is still, as ever, untouched by me. I don’t think of it as “my food” and I can tune it out as easily as choosing which picture to look at on a crowded museum wall.

That feels good.

The second is realizing the extent to which I am now the one in the driver’s seat when it comes to food and my mother. I no longer worry about what I eat in front of her because I no longer worry about what I eat. I don’t doubt myself in my food choices anymore and so when she is there with me I don’t care what she sees me eat. I know I’m making the choice that are best for me. I’ve essentially elbowed her out of my relationship with food.

Thank Goodness!!

It feels great.

It also feels a bit weird to think that on some level she is looking to me to allow her to eat what she wants.

Seriously, I have to type that again because it feels so weird.

She is looking to me to allow her to eat what she wants.

Good lord, that is liberating!

I think the most wonderful part of it is that because I have finally come to terms with my food plan and my body I can accept her food choices as being separate from mine and not some sort of weird and convoluted judgement on mine. Which means I can simply be gracious and tell her, “you can eat whatever you want in my house”, and I can mean it.

I used to have to struggle to feel like an adult. I don’t any more. The years have granted me the victory of knowing in my bones who I am. Being able to apply this to my struggles with food and with the role my mother played in the development of my relationship with food makes me feel free.

It’s not been easy getting this monkey from my back. But it’s a relief every time I see a new way that I’ve been liberated by it being gone.

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