When she first came to live with us Molly weighed 3.2 kilos (7lbs). She was 5 years old, teeny-tiny, a little bit scruffy, and had ears like Gizmo the Gremlin.
Molly came to us with ‘issues’. She was terrified of everything and everyone, prone to disappearing for hours on end (to eventually be found hiding buried underneath the sofa cushions or in a little nest she had made for herself under a bush out by the back gate) and would go into an almost coma-like state if you picked her up and gave her a hug. She had no understanding of ‘play’ and would run and hide if you tried to get her to join in any kind of game.
Four years along and many of Molly’s little idiosyncrasies, although still there, have become somewhat tempered. When I come home she will come running for her own ‘Mum’s back’ cuddle and even push the others aside to make sure she doesn’t miss out. She will let other people pet her (providing I am close at hand). Although she has still never made any attempt to join in, she will no longer run away in terror when Mabel and Maude grab an arm or a leg each of their favourite teddy and drag each other, growling and snarling, round and round the house. (She did once, in a mad moment, make a grab at one of the many doggie toys littering the house, but it squeaked at her and sent her into hiding for the rest of that day. She has doggedly (see what I did there?) ignored any possible toy-trauma ever since.)
But there is still ‘the food thing’.
Molly has no ‘off’ switch when it comes to food. She just does not believe in leaving food on her plate. Or any one else’s plate. Or anywhere in the house. Ever. Once she starts eating there is just no stopping her.
I remember the first time I gave Molly her dinner in her own little bowl. She sat. And she looked at it. Then she looked at me. “Go on,” I said, “eat your dinner.” She looked back at the bowl. She looked at Mabel and Maude happily eating out of their own bowls. And looked at her bowl again. And looked at me. I moved the bowl toward her. She backed away. I backed away. And she sat and looked again. I picked some food out of the bowl and tossed it to her. She gobbled it down. I moved the bowl towards her. She backed off. Okay. So, this was obviously going to be a thing. Sigh.
It was a very frustrating process to get her fed that first evening (compounded by the fact that Mabel and Maude had now finished their meals and desperately wanted to join in the new ‘game’. Not helpful, girls, really not helpful). Long (long) story short but after a few weeks and any number of false starts, Molly did eventually get the hang of eating out of her own bowl. More than got the hang of it. ‘Eating’ is possibly not the right word. ‘Inhaling’ might be closer to the mark. Food has become her passion.
I have been thinking about why Molly’s relentless appetite bothers me so much. Now that I know about it, it really isn’t that big a deal. For her health I don’t want her to get too heavy (and she is already starting to resemble a tiny sumo wrestler) so, without depriving her at all, I monitor how much food she eats and watch that she doesn’t eat all of Mabel’s leftovers as well her own meals. (Mabel is much more delicate in her eating habits.) I watch her like a hawk when we are out walking. If there are any kind of remains left under a picnic table three miles away, in the opposite direction, Molly will find them—and have eaten them all before I have even noticed she is missing. (I also now know where she keeps her ’emergency stash’ (bits of doggie biscuits and chew sticks stolen from the other girls when their backs were turned)—which I assume she keeps just in case we all get hit by an earth-destroying meteor before dinner.)
Perhaps it bothers me because I too have had my own issues with food. I like food (I really do) but I can honestly no longer remember a time when I wasn’t ‘watching what I eat’. I have been heavier than I ‘should be’ (don’t even get me started on the ‘shoulds’) for most of my adult life, and have been reminded of it on many an occasion. When I was younger such mean remarks would usually send me directly back to the refrigerator—both to console myself and to prove to others that I really didn’t care what they thought. But, of course, I did.
Over the years I have, like Molly, managed to modify a lot of my less-than-helpful behaviours and responses, but I was reminded quite forcefully last week that just when you think you have a handle on something, that is usually the time it will come back and bite you in the bum.
Last week I decided it was time to get my health and fitness back on track, as I had slacked off a bit over the last year or so. I just don’t have the motivation to do these things by myself any more so I signed on to a three month fitness and diet (ooops, sorry, ‘healthy eating’) on-line plan. So far so good.
I got my exercise gear together, cleared the kitchen of all distractions (bye bye chocolate—at least until next week when the Easter bunny comes) and was raring to go. And then, almost as if a switch was flipped, I started to think about pizza. I love pizza. Just love it. It’s right up there as one of my favourite foods. But you know I couldn’t tell you the last time I ate one, or even thought about eating one. Not for a long time. Out of sight, out of mind. But, swear to God, almost the moment I signed on for a new fitness and healthy eating plan—BOOM—all I could think about was eating pizza. Aaaarrrrrghhhhh!
However, this time, instead of berating myself mercilessly for my failings, I have decided to give myself a break and not fret too much about my ‘pizza brain’. I am sure, given time (and a couple of laps around the park) the yen for a Super Supreme (extra cheese) will fade. I am also going to ease up on Molly a bit (and by ‘ease up’, I don’t mean feed her more, but I’ll try to stop my continual exasperated, “Stop Eating Mol. You’ll explode!” commentary). We girls should stick together.
And who knows, Molly might well have the right idea. If finishing what you start is truly the road to inner peace, my Molly must be a Zen Master . . . .