Today's topic: "What did you swear you would never do as an adult that you still never do to this day?"
I should preface my response by saying "Not much. Hardly anything. Nope, mostly I'm just a big, fat hypocrite now." My stance on television, kids' meals, saying "Because I'm the mother, that's why" and practically everything else has been leveled under the bulldozer of actual parenthood.
But there's still one thing that haunts me and I try not to forget it. And that's that you don't have control over your own appetite as a kid. No, someone is always saying "You'll spoil your dinner" or "You've already had enough" or "But we're eating a real meal in two hours." And I'm still traumatized by that.
You see, I am what nutritionists typically call "a grazer." And what may also be called "hypoglycemic." (I actually don't know that part for sure, but I will tell you I have a full personality change when my blood sugar gets too low--I can't think, speak or behave rationally until I get some real food.) And I think maybe I have some control issues about food as an adult because a lot of childhood is defined by the "three squares a day" model and "no snacking between meals" ethic.
Having skipped breakfast (too early, too lazy) and eaten ice cream and Diet Coke for lunch, I was chew-an-arm-off hungry after school throughout junior high and high school. But I had to sneak snacks when my mother was out doing errands with the other kids. I didn't even want sweets--I remember standing at the fridge shoving cheese and fruit and hot slices of my mother's homemade bread in my mouth so I didn't get caught.
But the worst days were when I had swimming. Now, I know that two hours of swimming laps can burn like 1,000 calories and it was no mystery why my legs were shaking when I got out of the pool. But it was still two hours until dinner, two hours I often spent weeping in my room instead of doing my homework because I felt so weak.
I'm not trying to vilify my mother. She was making the choices she thought best, not trying to torture me. But my memories of that gnawing hunger are still so visceral, I can't bring myself to deny Jarrah her snacks unless we really, truly are eating dinner in five minutes.
I guess I also ascribe to the hilarious Seinfeld bit on "the appetite."
I gotta tell you. I am really enjoying being an adult. You can do
whatever you want. For example, If I want a cookie, I can have a
cookie. I can have 3 cookie or four cookies or 11 cookies. Sometimes, I
intentionally ruin my appetite and then I call my mother to tell her
that I did. "Hello mom, I just ruined my appetite with cookies."
Because as an adult we understand that if we ruin our appetite, there
is another on the way. There is no danger of running out of appetites.
This makes a lot of sense to me. There's no danger at all. If my kid is hungry, I say let her eat. Why should she have angst about it? Why does it have to be an opportunity for neurotic doubt and introspection? She feels like she wants food; she should eat food. Now, I do have to police what KIND or she would eat nothing but candy from morning to night. But otherwise, I say food is fuel and since she only has two speeds--turbo and asleep--she probably needs a lot of it.
I want to let her know that I trust her to know her own body. That I don't get to say what it needs and doesn't need, when, where and what. Let her grow up knowing she's beautiful and that food is beautiful, too. I never want her to have a second of doubt about either of those things.
And while I'm at it, I'm still trying to fix the hungry kid in myself, too. There are times I actually speak soothingly to myself when I'm really hungry and in a situation where I can't get food for a long time. I will say, Sssshhh, it's alright. You're alright. You are not going to be hungry forever and as soon as we have an opportunity to find food, you can have some. No one's trying to deprive you. Just chill.
I have to remind myself that I'm in control now. And when I do, it actually does help.