Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jewish mother/Italian grandmother syndrome

I never, ever thought in a million, trillion years it could happen to me: that I'd become that woman. That "Mangia! Mangia! Eat, eat!" motherling. Why am I trying to force feed my unwilling toddler when I wanted to kill my grandmother for doing it to me in my faux-anorexia/pre-compulsive eating days??

G is just as fine skipping all normal meals today as I was back then skipping my grandmother's brisket, kugel and potatoes. I escaped her centripetal feeding force when she passed away only to auspiciously land next door to Pina, Chianti's finest grandmother-cum-eating-disorder-interventionist. I'd moved into the farmer's quarters of an Italian villa in the outskirts of Firenze, where I was studying Art History for my junior year of college. I was smack at the height of my body-hysteria days and I became prey to Pina, the wonderfully round, pear-shaped maid of the rich folks in the Villa who regularly cooked up a mean 4-course dinner and insisted I come over to eat with her family. I'd bring my American health-food-obsessed, skin-n-bones-chic self to her warm hearth of a kitchen with fireplace ablaze and aromatic sauces bubbling, and push away plate after plate of meat, pasta and cheese. It drove her crazy.

Ain't karma a bitch? Now here I am doing the same thing with my son. Running down the verbal list of all the foods I've got tucked away in my diaper bag or stuffed in the fridge just in case he'll maybe, just maybe say "yes" to one of them. As I'm reciting the litany of menu options - and he's saying "no, no, no, no and no" -  I can literally see myself depicted along an historic timeline of mothers back through the ages all trying in vein to do the same thing: feed their child food he or she doesn't want. And then I occasionally stoop to that pathetically stupid tactic of  bringing the food-loaded fork up to his clenched lips, praying he'll get a delicious whiff and open up. Obviously everyone reading this blog knows that never, ever works. 

G has better things to do than eat these days. He's informed me point blank, "I'm too busy to eat." His cement mixer, legos and doggie are just as captivating to him today as fitting into a smaller size was back then to me. I feel you, G. I really do. When you decide you've got a minute to eat, jus' holla. I'll be here. But until then, enjoy your busyness without me hovering with a fork of cheese ravioli. I'll keep myself occupied with other more pressing issues, like: Am I feeding N enough??


  1. I hardly even try anymore. I just make food for DH & me, and S can take it or leave it. Usually he leaves it!

  2. I am constantly amazed at how little these toddlers can get by on, but you KNOW he will let you know if he is at all hungry. I would say, as long as when he is eating it's relatively healthy, you know he'll be fine! When he's a teenager I'm sure he will be eating everything in sight and driving you crazy in a million new ways. We all know these things in theory. In practice....

  3. Ha! I can totally relate. Italian grandmother syndrome here :). It pains me when she says no to something I've offered her !

    Just "found" you today. Love your blog!

  4. I've been sneaking Sky-man apple pie and cookies on the sly. Don't tell Mama. BTW he never turns up his nose at apple pie and cookies. Like father, like son.

  5. Before I had kids and I would hear a mom coaxing a kid to eat one more bite of this or that I wanted to strangle her. Judge not! I am now that mom probably annoying the crap out of someone else. I slave away making them something they don't want and then start explaining "all the trouble mommy went through TO MAKE IT JUST FOR THEM!" (Please hear desperate, slightly psychotic tone with which this is said.) Guilt. Early and often. That is my motherhood mantra.