Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dear Sons, You're Not What You Eat But You Are What's Eating You!

Dear boys,

Mommy has always been a "fatty". I do not know what it is like to grow up thin or fit, I was that pudgy girl that was teased and stared at in school. To this day some of my elders take joy in retelling stories about how voracious my appetite was as a child. I hate those stories. But the truth is I am emotional eater and so when that line about "you are what you eat" came about I looked in the mirror and wondered, "is this what a pork shoulder really looks like?"

Over the course of all these decades I only now realized just how in control of ourselves we really are. After all, we ate when we were happy, when we were sad, angry, frustrated and we definitely ate when we were bored! It didn't help things that my two favorite past times had absolutely nothing to do with being physically active! I loved reading and watching television! I loved the two distractions that taught me how to dream as well as hide.

Let me tell you something about being bullied in school because I was different from the other kids. Back in my day (goodness I can not believe I have to write that sometimes!) being heavy was unusual. I was the biggest kid by those standards and yet today I'd probably be in the middle of the pack. Yet kids are cruel and they learn that cruelty at home sometimes because their frustrated parents get diarrhea of the mouth and let it all hang out in front of the kids. You know what I'm talking about, your mom's not immune. There are those days mom comes in bitching about some reckless driver or the nut who didn't clean up after themselves at the office break room. I get judgmental when I'm frustrated, I'm human. Yet I'm reminded of the days when boys teased me and girls were so mean to me, simply because I was larger than them.

You know Mom is better for it now don't you? You've heard me say, "Mom's larger than life! Of course she has to be a bit bigger than the rest!" I am much happier with my body nowadays, although I still find myself grimacing at photographs! (yes believe it, smart alecks) It took me 47 years to realize that how I was feeling was how I was feeding myself. Now bullying is a whole other sets of letters believe you me but self esteem and self awareness are things I hope I've taught you all well enough so that you don't have to endure all the suffering I did within my very own head.

The power is yours. It always has been. The power to believe what you're told by others lies with you. The power to start a bad habit or stop one is yours. The power to believe what people say about you because you're different lies in your head, in your heart. Yes, we can buy that five pound tub of ice cream but what's the rule? One cup a day, if that, and never to self medicate ourselves because we're feeling something very strongly. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the same with wine but I'm not on that topic now am I!
Of course all of this seems reasonable until you're besieged with name calling or dirty looks in school or at the office. Then your body starts freaking out and you want to hide and sometimes there simply is nowhere to hide so you hide in that tub of ice cream.

Your big brother went on an interview the other day and was asked what type of food are you. (First of all what Human Resources person comes up with these questions? Who are they channeling? Barbara Walters during her brain fart moment when she asked Katherine Hepburn if you were a tree what type of tree would you be???) But my darling eldest said he was celery and his reasoning behind it made me proud. (the fact that you are as slim as one sometimes gets on my nerves but we all can't be this amazing and curvaceous can we Beulah) He said he was healthy and mobile. Like celery. Goodness my son is brilliant. He equated his food as the resource it was, explained its functionality and its appeal. Pure genius, I'd hire him.

As I sit here, looking at my one egg and tomato omelette on toast I am reminded of those feelings being squelched after the first mouthful. I am reminded of a sense of love practically warming my young unknowing frame as I went through that pint of Haagan Daz after the last break up. Well,at least I loved me as I ate it to medicate my senses and put salve on my bruised ego. And this was just last year!

You are all coming to those wonderful ages of 18, 21 and 25! (Translation: Mommy is free! Kinda, sorta) I watch how you eat and if I haven't taught you how to care for yourselves by now I never will. You all eat in moderation, for the most part. You all have your indulging moments but I see you reward yourselves and so I know it's more of a present than a punishment. It's good to see how Mommy has handled things and then talk about it right! Those nights mom cried into her Lamb Korma, or Shrimp Scampi, or Tuna Sushi Rolls, hey, mom loves food! Or when I was pouring over IRS forms (last week) and was eyeing that Carvel Cake commercial like it was porn! Did you know that small Carvel Cakes are now $20! Goodness, are the milk prices that high in Carvel Land, what the hell!!

Mom's eating habits have gotten much much better and you know what, so has her outlook. I eat to live and while I love to eat, I plan for those times when I want to indulge in sinfully wonderful tasting foods. I try to examine when I'm in a foul mood or just moody period. Most of the time it's an old insecurity rearing its ugly head and I have to talk myself off that ledge. We all want to be loved and appreciated, to be respected and to feel relevant and needed. We give those distinctions to ourselves boys, not other people. We certainly don't get what we want from others out of a food container (or a bottle) either.

You all are so handsome and healthy in your long, lanky and lean frames and the chunky little girl in me is so glad that you don't have to endure what I did, what I sometimes still feel like in my own skin. You don't have that fear of being rejected or looked at as being weak or less appealing. Life is funny, human beings even funnier. For that is good in the world people would rather put high marks on body size than on what a person contributes to their every day life and those around them.

Thank goodness you are all so much better at it than your Mom. So go on and be that celery and be healthy! Mom's working on it and she's right now trying to look like a very sexy veggie/fruit smoothie, in a figure eight glass of course. I'm actually enjoying the freedom and the power to choose the foods I'm taking in and not giving into the feelings that come across my brain every day.

Oh by the way boys, someone has to go back to the store. We're out of ice cream.

Love Mom

Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and now on parenting. She is writing a series of "Dear Kids" letters to her three sons on a series of topics and issues.
Her website is
Her books can be found online:

Mother to three amazing self sufficient civic minded sons. Devin Christopher, 24, Fashion Designer, college student in NYC and youngest athletic director ever hired at a major sports complex in NYC. Antonio Fernandez, 20, choreographer, dancer, model, college student in NYC, has already performed with Cyndi Lauper at the Beacon Theatre and simply ready for his close-up. Taylor Aidan, almost 18 (at this release), HS Senior in NYC, amazing singer who is studying to be the next greatest sign language interpreter the world's ever known. (DISCLAIMER: Ok, mom wrote that.)

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