Margotlog: Mother/Daughter Food Fights:
Tension over food: there’s the pout, the hands on hips, the storming from the table, the “You can’t run my life.” Why do mothers and daughters pitch their battles over the plate? I know: it dissipates with time. A thirty-something doesn’t usually fight her mom over what she orders at a restaurant. But teen years? Early teens to late twenties? Gelsey and I fought over food until I thought I’d lose my mind. Her favorite ploy when I was poor (recently divorced, trying to start a free-lance teaching and writing career): she’d order a lovely full-course meal, then pick at it while I sat opposite, watching all those dollars go down the drain. Strutting her power; refusing to acknowledge we might have a common cause here. She hated my scrimping.
She’d grown up in plenty before the divorce. After divorce, we fought in the aisles of Target–I wouldn’t spend tens of dollars on name-brand jeans. But the extravagant food order, then the glum pick-pick was far worse: we both knew what she was doing, and she wouldn’t let me bag the remains to take home.
In a 12-step group I attended, another mother of a teen talked about her daughter’s anorexia. Eating nothing, nothing at all, as she glowered at the dinner table. The father, irate across from her, churning up steam. Hearing this, I vowed to leave Gelsey alone. If she didn’t want to eat with us, preferred the kitchen table and her own batch of mac and cheese, I acquiesced. After all, I’d dragged her into a blended family somewhere along the way. She now had a step-brother and step-sister. We all were tense, a few of us snarky.
Maybe that was one of the reasons I began feeding stray cats. They’d congregate on the deck, snowy Minnesota mornings, not crying or yowling, just waiting, their body heat melting the snow under them. Some were beautiful: one male with huge green eyes and orange and white swirls on his sides. Some were horribly damaged: the matted and scarred black male with crooked tale. Eventually when it was sufficiently tamed, Gelsey and I took it to the Humane Society. It limped and was clearly ill.
Maybe coming together in our love of cats helped us soothe the tension and uncertainty of our human connections.