When Mom and Grandma appear together at my doorstep, I am guaranteed three things:
- My picture will be taken at least 12 times. They seem determined to have frame-by-frame documentation of my growth from the beginning to end of lunch.
- Grandma will question my mom’s eating habits and my inability to cook.
- Mom will look desperately at me as though I am to save her from her DNA.
First, Grandma Read Brochures
They wanted to see my office. Good enough. Harmless.
I told them to come to the lobby and tell the office manager, Pam, that they were there to see me so she could let me know. I told Pam that they were scheduled to arrive at 11:30 which means they’d be there about 11:26.
At 11:24, Pam came down the hall. “So close,” she said. “They’re here.”
There couldn’t have been a minute between their arrival and my grabbing them from the lobby. In that less-than-a-minute, my grandma found our stack of counseling brochures.
“Kelly,” she said. “I’m going to take some of these. I think I have an eating disorder.”
It is a long-standing joke/experience that Grandma is obsessed with her inability to eat, which isn’t an inability as much as, we believe, an internalization of her observation that Mom and I are not skinny individuals. But she tells us all the time about how much she can’t eat. Or how she can’t find pants that fit because they all just fall right off her.
She is also the woman who, when I was 14, bought me a book called “A Little More to Love” which was about a teenage girl who was overweight and yet somehow managed to find a boy to date anyway. At the time, the girl in the book was about 10 pounds less than 14-year-old me (she was *gasp* 130!) and I remember thinking, “What? I need to worry about a boy loving me in spite of my weight?” I think I am allowed to blame this book solely for me turning out fat and gay, but it’s just a theory.
Anyway, the point is that my grandma took some brochures on eating disorders, particularly the one that said, “Are you worried about your eating?” That one definitely seemed to speak to her.
Imagine Counseling Your Mother and Grandmother
As I tore her away before she could start reading the “Dealing with Difficult Parents” brochure, we headed back to my office. Both generations had their cameras out to document everything
“Stand next to the sign with your name on it!” they said. Well, the sign would certainly help identify who was in the picture, obviously. Mom decided it’d be funny to have Grandma sit on my couch and pretend like I am counseling her. Grandma agreed and sat down on the couch. I laughed and said, “So, Loretta, tell me what brings you in…”
You won’t believe me, but I swear on all that is holy that my grandmother looked at me, sighed, and said, “Well, when I sit down to eat, I already feel full…”
I don’t know if it’s a phenomenon that when people sit in a therapist’s office, they immediately become a client psychologically or if my grandma just really thought I was engaging her in a session, but my mom, standing in the doorway, almost fell over laughing at the transformation.
“No, Grandma, it’s okay. We’ll discuss it later,” I replied. By the way, for those of you sensitive to such things, I should add that at lunch, my grandmother ate half a panini, an entire bowl of soup, some potato chips, and a pumpkin bar. Her perception is not reality.
When Mom finished laughing and took a shaky, blurry picture of the two of us, Grandma said to Mom, “Well, why don’t you sit down and be a client?” They switched spots.
Mom focused in on me. I crossed my legs and put my hand on my head in very psychiatrist like position and said, “So, Shirley…tell me about your childhood…” I then laughed like the jackass I am.
At this point, we headed out to pick up lunch and go back to the house. Because why? Because my grandma decided to sew a puppy blanket for Daley and Slider to more comfortably look out the front bay window.
The thing that amuses me is that she decided to do this, oh, three days ago and now had it completed and wanted to put it in our window. (This was also after asking which bedroom was mine and which one was Carrie’s… MIXED MESSAGES!)
The puppy blankets – she technically made two since Carrie told her that they like to curl up in the office while she works and they most certainly shouldn’t have to do THAT on just any old blanket!!! – are fabulous. They are fun. And she is such a talented woman so I feel blessed and all of that… even if there is a little more of me for her to bless but I digress.
Over lunch, I informed my generational counterparts that Carrie was probably going to have to go back to Connecticut soon. Mom replied, “Well, I was thinking…it would be fun for me to go along sometime.”
I said, “What? Your overwhelming fear of flying isn’t going to preclude this?”
“Well,” she explained, “I have decided I need to be a little more experimental in retirement. And it’d be fun to travel with Carrie.”
Quick: I’d like everyone to vote on how excited Carrie will be when she finds out my mom wants to travel in an airplane with her.
My grandma chimed in. “Well, maybe I could go, too,” she said.
Quick: I’d like everyone to vote on how excited Carrie will be when she finds out my mom AND my grandma want to travel in an airplane with her.)
“No,” my mom said instinctively. “I have flown with you twice. That’s enough for me.”
And then, my grandma finished off our perfect 76 minutes together.
“Well, I’m fine once we’re in the air and I’ve finally stopped crying,” she said. “It’s just that I can’t eat when I’m about to fly. I sit down and I just feel full…”