Every time I go home to California, I know I'll gain at least five pounds over the course of a week. I eat better at home than I ever do on my own, and that's largely because of Mother's refusal to see me get any thinner. Brother Michael used to joke about Mom "pushing food" when we were younger. It didn't change when we grew up.
"Do you want a salad with that?"
"Do you want some cookies?"
"Do you want some ice cream?"
I hardly leave the table less than full. Fortunately the big comfy family room couch is less than a foot away from the kitchen table, ready to accept my vacationing self. At this stage of her life, Mom is glad to see me anywhere around the house, even if I'm merely taking up space.
Dad requires a different approach. We can't seem to reduce his appetite, but we can re-channel it.
"I'm making your father some lowfat brownies."
Dad still fills up and doesn't miss dessert, and we don't kid him as much about his weight anymore.
"Are you getting hungry, Christopher?"
She'll see me digging in the fridge for cheese slices and start gauging my appetite.
"Give me about a half hour," I'll reply. By then I'm ravenous. And then I can lap something up in the blink of an eye.
When I lived in Texas and flew back to my parents' old home in St. Louis, they took me straight from Lambert Field to Steak 'n Shake one time.
"Christopher, I think you inhaled that hamburger," Mother observed.
"I was hungry," I replied, wondering why people were surprised at the lack of any filling meal on the two-hop journey from McAllen to Missouri.
Still, Mom worries about my weight. I sent her a Mother's Day card a few years back with a penguin on the front. "Poppo The Penguin wishes you a Happy Mother's Day," it said before you opened it up to reveal a salivating polar bear with the punchline, "but he wishes he'd taken his mother's advice and eaten more!"
"Yes, you need to eat more," Mom replied over the phone.