In Search of Perfection
Nobody directly told me but I understood: I had to be perfect. I didn’t know what perfection was as a child but I wanted to please to be loved. I needed recognition. I wanted to please my parents, especially my mother, my father looked satisfied or at least he didn’t express disappointement.
I am officially a second child but since my older sister, that I haven’t had the chance to meet, died at birth, I was offered the role of eldest child. As my sister’s death has been a trauma, a painful event, a kind of failure, I had to balance the trend.
Of course I didn’t know until someone in the family talked about it during a dinner thinking I was aware of it. I was a teen when I have been told what happened to the baby. I felt that it was a sad memory that I shouldn’t have dig.
So I didn’t ask many questions, which is not of my habits, and I imagined how life would have been with her in the family. And sometimes in the anxiousness of night I had imaginary discussions with her, in my mind.
My mum wanted me to be good at school not to become a cashier nor a scavenger and not to have to depend on a husband although it would be pleasant to find a rich and handsome man.
That implies that some people are superior or inferior to some others, that money makes happiness and that I would be a straight woman liking men and that I would like to officialize that with a conventional contract.
She also wanted me to be slim and tall and blonde and good at tennis so I could play against her.
She wanted to be my confident but I didn’t trust her. I didn’t trust her because she didn’t trust me and wanted to believe I was a clone of her.
She was full of contradictions. She played the hippie woman but she wasn’t free. Prejudices ruined her way of thinking.
She kept commenting and showing her disgust when seeing fat people in the street. People are fat because they are lazy and glutton. But did she know about dietetical rules? I don’t think so. My little sister and I have been fed with carbohydrates all our childhood. Potatoes, pasta and rice to sum up. Of course we also had some meat and fish. Fish fingers and chicken nuggets. Junk food for children. Once a week on Sunday lunch we had an elaborated meal. It was the unique meal we were sharing with our parents.
My mum was working in the farm in the morning when we were having breakfast and in the evening when we were having dinner.
And my dad was working in the city until the evening when he gave a hand to my mother, feeding and milking the animals.
We never had these shared meals in family where to discuss. TV was the master of ceremony of our food routine.
We had snacks but they were rationed out. So we would eat more than expected.
I remember that time when my grandparents used to scale me each time I was going to their place. I was about eight and they thought I was too skinny so they made me pancakes. My mum used to say that I was picky. Well, between canneloni and spaghetti I didn’t have much to explore, for my defense.
So I was lost. I couldn’t be too skinny but it would be awful to become fat. So I was asked to gain weight but not too much. Just enough.
My parents used to smoke cigarettes and actually my mother still does. Eli and I asked them hundreds times to quit. My mother used to say: “I will remind it to you when you will be older! I’d better never find you with a cigarette in your mouth!” It sounded like a threat.
I used to be good at school. Not the first but far from being the last one. But my mother loved to compare me with the other pupils. She liked to show me that some did better than me. She also used to say that I could do better if I wanted and during the meetings between teachers and parents she once told my teacher that I was lazy. While my teacher was complimenting me on my writting skills my mother was criticizing me and swearing that I never read books. I just wanted to disappear at that point. I felt like being in the Court suspected of a murder and before I had time to explain the situation my mother would appear screaming: “She is a killer!”.