One of the Authors I look up to the most described her start in writing as the place she could breathe. The place she could be absolutely honest. The place she can lower her defenses long enough to survive the rest of life.
I have continued to sit with this for a couple of days, most notably for the reason that a friend sent me an article about ausitic “masking”. Here is the link. And holy hell I felt seen.
So I started thinking, how much do I breathe? Sadly, the answer seemed to be “not much”. I breathe at the end of the day when I have two children sleeping next to me a some low pressure British reality TV show playing in the background and I contemplate whether or not I should go to sleep as I am so tired life is blurry.
That’s… not cool. And certainly not healthy. And I can blame children and schedules and my Taurean need for excessive amounts of sleep and everything else. And for a long time I have told myself that its just not my season for writing. But if writing is where I can breathe… and one of the only places I can breathe… then every season is the season for writing. Because every season is the season for breathing.
Let us breathe.
And, in all honesty, let’s begin with some shallow breaths. Because while yoga would have us believe that you can just slow down and immediately start that shit, I would contend that in this analogy, we cannot start with deep breaths. Deep breaths require a level of focus not found in the five minute gasps we grant ourselves in quiet moments and in the learning how to take off our masks and in pulling the truth from outside of us to lay on a page and present to the world.
Shallow breaths, on the other hand, doable.
For instance: I consume damn near every article I find about “picky eaters” because I was one and seem to be raising one. Now, admittedly, as a white woman, I manage to take everything too personally, so please hold that information as I go on. This last article I was reading started with acknowledging that dinner was often a fight in her household, with her father being extremely strict and forcing her to sit at the table for hours to eat perfectly good food that her mother had prepared but that could often have uncomfortable and unexpected textures that would make the food hella unappetizing. I nodded to myself. This battle would make food difficult for anyone, especially a child. But then the author completely switched gears and blamed the mom. It was mom’s fault. Mom never let her into the kitchen. Mom ran a one woman show in there and if she could have only helped prepare the food then maybe, maybe she would have been more adventurous.
So, of course, I applied this directly to myself and my picky eater. And called bullshit. Again, I understand this was not written about me and my picky eater. I have absolutely no idea what the rest of the author’s home life was like. How much time she spent there. Whether the power struggles extended to her clothes, friends, hobbies, etc. If she had siblings who were also picky eaters or whether they were vacuum cleaners who tried everything put in front of them. Even acknowledging these unknowns, I call bullshit.
I try to let the kids into the kitchen. I want them to learn skills. I want to share this with them. But goddess dammit sometimes it is just my happy place and I need to be alone in it. I am beyond blessed to have the most helpful children. Who are home with me, all day, because we homeschool, and love being by my side. And its amazing.
And exhausting as every living fuck.
“Moms, it might slow you down a little. It might require patience. But inviting kids into the kitchen could change their whole perspective about the world of food.”
“Might?” Fucking might? Have you tried going on a walk with children without being slowed down? Cool, let’s now add raw meat, hot pans, time sensitive steps, sharp knives, and brains still developing so listening skills are not at their absolute best. I mean, sounds like a great fucking time. An awesome way to wind down at the end of the day where you have given your family your absolute all and helped them identify their emotions and set up art/science projects, joined them in the constant clean up efforts to keep your house from becoming a safety hazard, clutched your heart as they learn skills like bike riding and climbing by failing a few times before flying and know you *have* to let them get a little hurt. Hard fucking pass fram. Mom’s are allowed sanity time, and allowed to have it in the kitchen while making food for everyone else.
Especially because let’s face it – mom’s dinner is not where we learn “adventurous eating”. I make the same 20ish dishes in various forms on a cycle of repeat. My mom did the same thing. As did her mom. As does every cooking mom I know. We cook from our comfort zone.
If anything, my picky eater is more adventurous when we eat out than when we eat at home for the *lack* of being able to peek behind the veil. And whether home or out, it is his autonomy that drives what he eats and what he doesn’t. Safe, secure, confident, good day? High chance he will try a new food. Bad, sad, hard day? Bring on the chicken nuggets. Because he’s a person and frankly most adults operate that way too. I want comfort food at the end of a hard day. Not because I’m afraid to try new things, but because emotionally I gain comfort from the familiar instead of expending energy on the unknown.
So… can we not blame a mom jiving to her own beat for a half an hour preparing food for a family that may or may not fully appreciate the effort? Can we acknowledge that not only is that not how human psychology works, but that requesting that *every* activity be made about the child we teach children and ourselves that boundaries aren’t important when they really, really are?
“Thank you, but now is not a great time to help mommy. I don’t want you to get hurt, but also, I really need this time for me. This is some me time. I would love you to help me another time, though.”
I’m all about opinion pieces. And acknowledge and understand that everyone’s experience is unique and this author might have been desperate for a peek behind the veil and, I dare say, some connection time with her mother.
At the same time, I feel the need the point out that the endless power struggles with her father and the implied lack of autonomy miiiiiiiight have been a driving factor in the need to control what graced her lips? Just me? Cool.
To adults with mother wounds: I am sorry and hold space for you.
To mothers: I see you especially. We are doing the best we can in a society that robs us of our resources and guilts us for fighting for our own sanity and space. You keep doing you.
To picky eaters: the world is full of so many things to experience and enjoy. If you like ordering chicken nuggets everywhere you go – you do you and fuck the haters. So long as your mind is open to other people doing things differently than you and still being valid, honestly, you’re doing better than a lot of the world.