Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day Musings

I was just thinking about how to relate my post to Mother's Day. I think I'll write about how my mom influenced my thoughts on eating and exercise and how I hope to do the same for my children.

When I was growing up, my mom cooked simply. She was married right after high school (I can't imagine if my either of my oldest daughters were married that young) and learned to cook from what her mom had taught her. She cooked many "dishes" from "the south" -- like lima beans and hot water cornbread (loved the cornbread, hated the beans). We learned to love fruit, but didn't eat many vegetables that weren't from a can besides potatoes and corn -- oh, and iceberg lettuce. I never really developed a love for any vegetables that weren't starchy.

My mom liked to bake so I learned to love baking too. We baked bread, cakes, and lots of cookies. My mom didn't buy junk food, but she bought sugar, flour, and shortening, so we baked up a storm with that. She went through what many called "health food kicks" back then. She'd buy things like brewer's yeast and would go to "The Happy Belly" health food store from time to time. The doctor would tell her about the health benefits to certain foods and she'd try cooking with them or"taking them" for awhile. It seemed like these foods came in glass jars or were kept in brown paper bags. Sometimes she'd buy liver to help us get iron. That was the grossest. None of us liked liver. She'd have us use lots of ketchup to drown out the taste.

I think at that time we thought eating healthy wasn't very tasty and was kind of difficult to do -- so it came in phases. As I've learned in my adulthood how eating healthy can be just as delicious and mouth-watering, I've seen that it doesn't have to come in waves. I guess it can come in phases, but not in short bursts that go away. It's more in phases of progression, learning as I go. I've known that my children will be watching me and didn't want them to think "this is just some thing mom's going through and won't last for long." I've wanted them to see the wisdom in the changes I've made and we've made as a family. I think that's worked for us.

I started out with small things like giving up dairy for myself or not buying foods with refined flours/sugars or hydrogenated fats. Sometimes they'd complain (especially when I stopped buying refined maple syrup -- they asked and begged me to buy Aunt Jemima or Log Cabin syrup again when I started buying pure maple syrup. They liked the thicker texture). But I held strong, explained why the newer purchase was better for our bodies, and told them if they wanted some, they could eat it when they were at their friends' homes. This they did, but not very often. Eventually, they'd tell me that when they'd eat a more refined version of something at a friends' house, they didn't like it as well. It didn't always make them feel good afterward either.

So I'm thinking I've taken what I learned from my mom - - the importance of seeking out healthy alternatives for eating -- and have taken it a few steps further with my own children. I think they've seen how I've changed our shopping and eating and have grown to understand and appreciate it. I'm not saying I've done a perfect job at it. I surely wish I'd started much earlier -- before any of them were born. And I wish I were a little stricter in some areas. Overall though, I'm happy I'm where I am now.

As for exercise, I don't know if any of my children have ever remembered me not exercising. I've either gone to a health club to swim or take classes (which they probably don't even remember) or have done home video fitness workouts since they were born. I really grew to love fitness in 1996, when my oldest daughter was 6 and my 4th child was born. They probably don't have a memory of a mom who said "ugh" to fitness. Even though we're not a very competitive sports-oriented family (we average about one sport a year, which isn't much for a family with 6 children), they all like to challenge themselves and enjoy running, playing outside, swimming, bike riding, and sometimes even working out with me. I love it when they do yoga with me -- so soothing and so much fun.

Since my mom was young when she had us, she played with us like she was a kid too. She did gymnastics with us in the living room, jumped on the beds with us (we didn't have trampolines back then), took us swimming all summer long, and encouraged us to play baseball (probably our family's favorite sport). She started running (they called it "jogging") when that became the fad of the 70s and joined a health club and taught aerobics when that became popular in the early 80s. I taught aerobics when I was a senior in high school (mostly to ABBA music - - loved it!) Had I kept going, I might have been right up there in the video fitness world with some of the early aerobic queens, like Denise Austin and Kathy Smith! Fun thought :).

Happy Mother's Day to you all, whether you are a mother or not. If you are, cherish the mothering you have been blessed to do. If you aren't, cherish the mother (or mothers) in your life.

No comments:

Post a Comment