Tag Archives: parenting

Mom to a Celiac Kid

I feel much more comfortable in my philosophy than I do in stripping bare and talking about my son and the dietary obstacle course we seem to always be running.  It’s safer.  More distant.  And no matter how one might disagree with my philosophy it doesn’t hurt like what could be said when talking about my parenting.  Still, there’s been one thing weighing heavily on my heart if not my mind lately – and it is this:  My child got gluten and I have no idea how.  None.

I had no idea it had happened until there was a violent intestinal episode (really two) in one day merely an hour or so apart.  His gut remained bloated for a few days, his pallor came back, circles under his eyes, behavior got worse, and his pickiness about food came back.  Honestly, we weren’t even sure he HAD gluten, but everything about the past week indicates that’s exactly what it was.  AND THERE IS NO GUARANTEE WE’RE RIGHT.

My job is to take care of my kids – day in and day out – make sure they’re healthy, eating properly, getting the time and attention they need, educating them…  And my four year old somehow got gluten.

Without even getting into the long term risks of a celiac ingesting gluten I’m stuck in that one place of fear and horror of not knowing how or when he got any.  Could it have been that time I sneaked a doughnut on the way back from a solo grocery store run?  Could it have been that he didn’t wash his hands after feeding the kitties?  Maybe it was when he, in all his petulant “I’m going to mimic my baby sister” glory, decided to put his mouth over the cap of a freshly bought bottle of gluten free smoothie (a treat)…  Perhaps he hugged his homebrew store owning father after he came home from work covered in glutens before dada could get changed.  In the end it matters little.

My husband and I have spent several days revisiting the episode in our heads (mine with the graphic and gory pictures of the results) and have still not come to any answer.

I do not say the following lightly, nor caustically, but it’s floated around my mind too much to ignore: There is no epi-pen I can give my son a shot with to stop his body from destroying its self over the run in with gluten.  A safety net does not exist; the ramifications are not a one shot horror show, but a long drawn out game of Risk.  One which carries increased risks of many cancers as well as the immediate malnutritive facet.  Slow death.

There is no balm to assauge my guilt and certainly not a glass of wine big enough to have me forgetting that somewhere along the way I failed my job.  I don’t have rage for the disease, nor for the people who simply don’t get the seriousness of it and want to promote things like nut bans (okay, maybe a little for them; lack of empathy does that to me), but I have a plethora of it for myself.

And so back to the grain free (dairy free/soy free/gluten free) life we go.


Facebook = Soma

It is remarkable the clutter one’s mind can hold; how quickly it can fall upon you, invade, stretch its legs out, and then make its self so comfortable it’s as though you never existed without it. The experience of separating myself from THE social network has been an amazing journey I’m not quite done with yet. Within a few days of not posting I felt… liberated. The compulsion to comment and respond, the drive to participate in debates, to clarify my position, to rail against the logic fails I would take as a personal affront wasn’t present. My smart phone was left in my back pack in the trunk during outings. A quest for approval I had inadvertently embarked upon when signing up for facebook seemed to run out of steam.

Every night I was besieged by the news on my feed; article after article presented to me and threads to which I felt compelled to respond. And with all this time during which the kids slept I never felt rested, replenished, or even relaxed or productive. It was frustration and hostility – feeding mostly the negative things that reside within.  The absolute, in the doldrums, intensely negative self outlook.  There was always someone who was accomplishing more than me, certainly more of the things viewed by society as valuable and as actual achievements, and this sent me on a bit of a downward spiral.   I even mis-attributed some of that to being burnt out; that being the primary care giver of my two children, one teething and crawling while the other has extraordinary dietary restrictions, time while my husband worked his ass off in getting a new business launched while furthering the success of the existing one. A few days of no posting, a few painful days of cringing every time I had the thought “this is what I should post as my status”, was all I needed to realize how easy it was to let the single most precious thing in life slip through my fingers. Time.

Facebook, or so it seems to me, is the new soma. It lures you in with the promising glitter of “keeping in touch”, then of being “better than” those people from high school/co-workers/family members, and then it suddenly switches this thing that simply keeps you busy. That whiling away hours upon it “keeping up” with people or “sharing ideas” life was simply disappearing like water down a clean as a whistle drain even as the sensation of beautiful and precious moments became the noise and interruptions of my cyber drug. My anesthetization to them had been complete. But reversible.

The communications I had on facebook were, upon occasion, very meaningful to me. Some even made me feel powerful. But by and large the vicarious nature of the network its self left me with less power, less words, through the perpetuation of a myth of productivity. My writing, even my desire to do it, left me for a time. It was EASIER to fill my head and expend my energy on the false premise my arguing with someone would change their belief when I knew damn well that certainly wasn’t going to be the case in the reverse. There’s always that hope of those with strong beliefs, myself certainly not an exception to this, that a person might become converted to my way of thinking, of seeing things. It is not acceptance. It is not peace. It is not playing with my children. It is not a hug. It is not even tending to a relationship of value. I would contend that if people assert this to be the case (again – myself as recent as a month ago is counted in this) then what is worth valuing has been missed.

A hand written letter is what I crave doing most for my friends these days. A phone conversation or text. Even an email. Something that is quieter and allows for the more tender and subtle emotions to be spoken without the violent screams of so many others to clutter up the works. And so I write again. Articles, essays, and a break through on a manuscript I still hold so very dear in addition to the letters and emails to those I’m grateful to call friends.

The blog… I think I’m coming back to it as well.

Parenthood As Education

In my misguided notions of being a parent there was this underlying belief that I had submitted to my children. That my investment in myself had been reformed and translated to demonstrate the importance of parenting my children; not in being their authority, but their loving care provider and guide into autonomy. Each time I wanted to scream and took a deep breath I recalled that this was what it was all about. That I. Was. Doing. IT.

I was a parent, and a not so bad one at that. Every choice was being made based upon thoughts of how my child, now children, is and what the needs were. Then I had this horrifying moment not one day before my son was a little over four years old (did I mention he’s just a little over four now?) when I realized: I haven’t fully submitted. I categorized. I prioritized. I took who I am, shoved her in a little box and told her she could only come out to play on special occasions. My writing was solidly focused on NOT discussing my life as a parent and I felt this separation was a continuation of a necessary divide.

The Mom my kids see is not all that I am, I daresay they don’t even get a real hint of it, instead they get the often anal retentive (okay that part is completely, and somewhat apologetically, true), but still somewhat fun entirely too verbose me. And meanwhile the Writer Mom forgoes acknowledgment even in my own head. Boundaries are vital in any healthy relationship, and so certain bits of not G rated knowledge is reasonable to withhold, but I am feeling more and more like a counterfeit these days.

My oldest has no idea that I’m a passionate person unless by passionate you mean “the crazy lady who yells when I tackle the cats”. And he GETS passion – in his own way. He understands the love and dedication of wanting to do something like drawing, sculpting, or listening to stories. I still seem bent on denying him a more real version of me. There are justifications galore that I give voice to in my head, but even that gets repressed on such a level that I do not give it a chance to be heard. Not really. As wretched as it is, the reason I find myself so wantonly addicted to ye ole’ social network is because the outspoken and forthright adult can get her time out in public.

Let me be clear: I do not regret being a mother. I do not regret being a stay at home mom (except on some days). I do not regret being a homeschooling mother. I regret that I am not happy all the time in these choices. That I do not LOVE being all these things all the time. That I am not communicating how best to be happy to my children. How to be genuine NO MATTER WHAT.

And here comes that word again. That word many of us in the United States have learned to be abhorrent when it comes to parenting. Submission. I have not submitted. I surrendered. I gave up on myself in my attempt at being a “good enough” parent. In so doing I have been the kind of parent I never wanted to be. Permissive, not completely engaged, short tempered (not always, but even if I heard “I don’t wanna” for five hours straight before snapping “I don’t wanna hear ‘I don’t wanna’ anymore!!!” it feels like I lost a promise to myself, to my kids), and even sometimes a bit embittered. My personality is a fierce one and if you were to meet my son you’d say the same about him, but more often than not the gentility which IS part of my make-up (stop laughing) is lost on all but the wee one.

This all comes down to self-acceptance. To understanding and re-evaluating what I think is valuable. Sadly, this led me to the paralyzing realization that I’ve always suffered just here. Here at this intersection of almost acceptance and self derision was a missing arrow telling me where self-love was. How does one teach something to a child when they don’t know it for themselves? Some believe formal education can solve all the ills, that perhaps a psychology class or five would leave me capable of this (did I mention I have a BA in psychology and was invited to their honors reception? Twice?), but for me the answer is obvious: kids learn the most important lessons in life through action and experience. Many things can be taught, but love? It is felt. Self love? That comes from BEING loved regardless of what is happening in the entire insane universe. And it’s gift is a security one may take wherever they choose to wander. It can be the comfort one needs when those feeling out of place moments occur.

None of this can happen without submission. True submission. Not just to the kids, although that really helps, but submission to one’s self. Submitting to those moments of being raw. To the why’s and what for’s of shame, guilt, betrayal, and unbelievable hurt. Those are the places where one can feel the most alone, the most deserted and unloved. And it’s where every person needs it the most. For me, this is the space that becomes more occupied the more I deny it; my emotional street address. It’s the place I act from as a parent which, coincidentally enough, is the most on the spot, under the microscope occupation one can have. [Ever accidentally swear near a talking toddler? Then you totally know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t done that yet – give it a try. ]

And here is the light: My children are a gift to me. They are reminders of love, of gentleness, that kisses (even of them) can fix just about everything. They’re also sound reminders of what I should never tolerate being done to me if for no other reason than because I don’t want them to learn it’s healthy or acceptable for them to live with. Each set of blue eyes I look into every day is a call to be more courageous and to teach them the self-love it took me more than thirty years to understand I didn’t have. For them I can do that, for me – I didn’t even realize I had been missing something.