Don’t let the title fool you, I promise you won’t get a pie in the face. Thanks to Miriam, I have just recently learned that I still have a major war raging inside my head and it is all about food. It is a war waged on multiple fronts simultaneously and any strategist will tell you, that is the surest way to lose. I have food guilt and even, food trauma – as in, food is expensive so clean your plate, don’t throw good food away because there are starving children out there, if you’re good you will get supper, if you’re bad you’ll go to bed hungry, don’t make a mess or you’ll spend the night scrubbing the floor. It goes on and on. I thought that surely I was over that now as I’m 44 and food is easier to come by, but I was wrong. Helping Miriam to eat on a daily basis and making sure she eats enough, has reawakened most of my food issues. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset at her or blaming her. No, in fact, I’m terribly grateful to my sweet teacher for showing me that I wasn’t over my food issues, in fact, I wasn’t really facing them at all.
I still eat for comfort. I still eat to “reward” myself and celebrate. A festive occasion immediately brings to mind all the things I want to consume. Then there’s the guilt. I “shouldn’t” have eaten that. I “shouldn’t” have had a full serving. I can’t throw that away, it’s still good! I even began panicing over spilled food again, always thinking about the monetary cost and how wasteful it was to spill good food on the floor. I was getting angry – at a toddler – over spilled food.
That’s when I slammed on the mental brakes and took a hard look at myself. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, it’s just some crackers, or some applesauce, maybe even a little meat, on the floor. Big deal, get a towel, wipe it up, and move on. It’s no big deal. It really needs to be no big deal. And yet, I paniced. I was upset. I was agitated, angry even. And Miriam was laughing and giggling. At first I just became more upset, why was she laughing? This wasn’t funny! It was wasteful! It was bad! It was … oh shit, I sound like my mother! The unvarnished truth is – it’s just a little food. Miriam is learning, experimenting, and HAVING FUN. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I do not want to give Miriam any sort of phobias or anxieties, about food or money. In the grand scheme, they may be necessary, but they are nothing to rant and rave over, not even when some is deliberately spilled on the floor. I have a long way to go to repair the damage done inside my head, but I will not pass it on to Miriam, that is one thing I am positive she will be better off NOT sharing with me. Food will never be a source of fear for her, it will never be her only solace, not while I have any say in the matter. Never will she be beaten for spilling milk or dropping an egg on the floor. Never sent to bed without any supper. Never told that she MUST stuff every bite down just because it was on her plate. She will not be guilted for having an extra cookie, or wanting a big piece of cake, either. And as long as she is willing, I will let her play with her food – experiment, taste, color, decorate, whatever her heart desires, because playing is learning! There are real monsters out there in the world, no one should have their very sustenance turned into one. With fear and guilt served 3 times a day, there isn’t any wonder why so many of us are now plagued with things like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Food literally becomes pain for us.
I’m so grateful to my baby girl for helping me realize I wasn’t healing this part of me, I was simply applying a thicker layer of frosting to cover up the cracks in the cake!