The Hungry Wolf

CN: this post includes mentions food insecurity, and discussion of eating habits

What time is it Mr.Wolf? “Dinner time!” My mother makes a big show of leaning back while fake roaring, scoops me up and pretends to naw on my leg, barely surpressing her own laughter.
Now, I can’t put an exact age to this memory because it played out multitudes of times with only little variations. In reading Little Red Riding Hood she would always emphasise the words. “The Big. Bad. WOLF!” Follow it with a mock howl and sometimes reaching over suddenly to tickle-attack my brother and I.
My mom loved being the wolf.

She was a wolf at supper too.
In my family household there was a bit of prodding to eat things we weren’t as fond of, but more often there was the unambiguous presence of the wolf. If we didn’t eat our food our mother would eye it gleefully and as soon as our plate was unguarded she would wolf it down. That’s how she’d describe it too “If you don’t eat it, I’ll wolf it down.”
Her word for quickly devouring food, and her temperament about food were one and the same; this meant eating dinner was a bit of a game around my mum, where everything was play in fun except if you lost you could go to bed hungry. Not only would she take any food we left, if we weren’t careful she’d steal food right off our plate in the middle of dinner. If we tried to do the same she would make mock snarling noises at us, and if we succeeded she would pout and make fake puppy whining noises and try to sneak some back off our plates when we looked away.
My mother the wolf, playfully vicious.

I think if we had money enough for midnight snacks it wouldn’t have been as big a deal, and also if my mother had a play off switch like most adults, who know that it’s not always fun to have to guard your food from your parent, but neither thing was true.
Most days if you didn’t like dinner you went hungry, and if you weren’t watchful, you went hungry, and if you didn’t eat everything right then there’d be no more, so you did, or you went hungry.

Those with disordered eating can often trace habits back to childhood; eating till over full and also getting over used to the feeling of hunger were both features of my childhood eating.
Due to poverty mostly, but the insecurity I associate with eating, and my ingrained tendency to eat everything on my plate, even if I don’t like or want it, is I’m sure, in no small part because of my wolfish mother.

She was always hungry, even in childhood, her learned habit to eat whatever she could at dinner because her parents didn’t allow evening snacking.
My mother, I should say, is incredibly athletic, always been that too.
When she worried about us camping on a moutain and she couldn’t get ahold of us by phone, her solution was to bike the up the damn moutain to check on us.
Her athleticism lent itself to creating an extremely ravenous appitite; outside of when she has had the flu I can’t think of a time my mother ever turned away the oportunity to eat. Sure she doesn’t like all foods, but if it isn’t an oyster or smothered in cayenne pepper she’ll probably devour it.
Come to think of it, it likely isn’t a coincidence that fishy-fish and 5 alarm spicing, the only things she doesn’t eat, are my favourite food-categories in the world. Delicious foods to me, but also safe foods I didn’t have to fight for.

The wolf plays, the wolf eats, the wolf knows nature doesn’t take a day off so neither will she. I wasn’t raised by wolves but my mother was always the wolf. It is a complicated situation to grow up with a parent who you know loves you but that love doesn’t translate to knowing how to back down or back off, and they’re always playing but it’s not always fun. It’s a hard thing.
I love my mother the wolf, sometimes I just wish she had been more ‘mother’ and a little less the hungry wolf.

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2 thoughts on “The Hungry Wolf

  1. That sounds really… well it makes me sad to think about this aspect of your childhood. I’m sorry your mother didn’t seem to realize how it was affecting you to behave that way around you and your food.

    • Thank you. Solidarity, eh. (So it’s clear, that’s the Canadian ‘eh’)

      She still can’t, I copy pasted the text of this to her and she didn’t get that part, it’s like it’s invisible to her.
      She is an ‘all or nothing’ thinker, in her mind it’s either fun or it’s not, but reality is more messy and comes in more grey than that.

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