No, this is not the defensive line of a World War 2 league of their own type all-female football team. These women are my relatives. The second lady in from the left is one of my favorites, my great-great Aunt Hilda. Her little brother Albert who annoyed her so much that she told me about it eighty years later was my great-grandfather. Hilda quit school to go to work the day that her father died, but she was incredibly smart with a biting, sarcastic humor that could stop you in your tracks and a laugh that practically shook the room. She was also, as you can see, a very large woman. I come from hearty German stock, as I’ve been told a million times, and the women who came before me could catch their food, butcher it, and then cook it in the pan that they bought with the money they made working in the clothing factories that once employed many of the women in my hometown.
When you grow up around women with this sort of…build, you anticipate a few things from your own life including delicious pies, diabetes, and the clever use of swimsuit cover-ups. It turns out that the I-can-cook-anything gene is not a gene at all, but rather a Home Ec 101 skill, and it has somehow missed me entirely. As for diabetes, I’m fighting the good fight and doing well so far. And swimsuits? Black cover-ups, big sunglasses, and sparkly flip-flops can work wonders.
And here’s the funny thing about genetics. They can only determine so much.
A week ago my family spent the day with my dad’s side of the family, the source of every creative fiber in my body, the size of my nose, and my brown hair that won’t begin to gray until I’m well into my 60’s (thanks, Gladys). I had the pleasure of seeing my first cousin who I haven’t seen since my almost-kindergartner was a baby, still nursing around the clock and keeping my sleep deprived body in check despite my nightly indulgence in a bowl of vanilla ice cream. This cousin has shared my life long struggle to keep the extra pounds from creeping up on her, so imagine my surprise when in walked a fabulously athletic figure. Don’t get me wrong, I never thought of her as heavy. My aunt was one of the tallest people in the family, and she married a tall, thin man (so did I – giving my kids a chance!!). As a result, my cousin’s got a couple helpful inches on her and those long arms I’ve always dreamed about. But I know that she’s had those points in her life when she wasn’t completely happy with her weight. Yet there she was looking like she could walk out the door and run a marathon. In fact, she had gone running that morning and told me that she does two hundred push-ups a day. TWO HUNDRED. Now those ladies in that picture aren’t from her side of the family, but believe me. I could find pictures of similarly built great-great aunts over there on my dad’s side. You know…hearty German stock and all that.
But do you know what she said to our genetics?
Bad genes? What bad genes?
Instead of worrying about what life has handed her in terms of body type or our proclivity to turn every calorie into thigh, she has chosen to work hard at having the best body she can have. The family get-together could not have come at a better time for me. There’s nothing like looking really good in the eye to remind you that good enough isn’t good enough anymore.
So happy to be feeling the mamavation this week!