There are times when the New York Times Magazine is eerily on par with what I am thinking. Case in point, this week was the Wellness Issue and one of the articles written spoke directly to me.
This weekend, I confessed to my husband a fear that I had for our girls, not a fear of them getting into “bad” colleges or marrying the “wrong” person or even the fear of them hating me from the ages of 13-17. No, my fear is…
… I fear them getting F-A-T. OK, I’ve said it… sort of. Both of my girls take swim lessons at the Y and so we are there for an hour on Saturday mornings, I am usually out of the pool, while my husband is in. Being out of the pool allows me to do people watching and I was kind of alarmed at the number of heavy little girls in and around the pool. This isn’t the first time I’ve had these issues… after all, I’ve been a parent for almost 3 years.
I guess it would be so much easier if food was just a source of energy for humans but food is so much more than that. I find myself reading labels and asking myself, “Would my great-great grandmother recognize this as food?”;” “How many steps away from natural state is this?;” “Damn, my chemistry background. I can pronounce all of these words… does that mean I can eat it?” Yesterday I walked in to find my husband feeding the 7 month old applesauce that he had purchased… applesauce with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in it. Yup, I freaked a little bit inside but managed to hold my composure. But you know that I am going to be pitching that ASAP. But here’s the rub: I freak only about their eating. Lunch today for the 2 year old: Hummus Sandwich on HFCS-free bread, fresh strawberries, organic HFCS-free fruit snacks and dehydrated veggies. Lunch for me: leftover pre-made lasagne. And you know why the crazy focus? Because what my kids are seen eating and how they look is a direct reflection of my parenting. At least, in my mind it is.
I can easily say that I eat “right” about 90% of the time. We do a lot of vegetarian meals and we watch portion sizes, etc, etc but there are times when you have a “Ho-Ho” moment. Usually it happens like this: I am at the market, with the girls and I am a little hungry and I spy them… Ho-Hos. Chocolate cake and creme filling all wrapped up in a spiral. I stealthily toss them in the cart, away from the eyes of the 2 year old. I get to the check out and play defense against the 2 year old trying to get her hands on the sweet treats at the checkout and I successfully pay for our basket of veggies, legumes, HFCS-free breads, Acai berry juice… and contraband Ho-Hos. It’s about a 5 minute drive from the market to my house, so I slip the Ho-Hos in the door of the drivers side, get the car loaded up, get the girls strapped in and leave for home. And in those 5 minutes, INHALE the Ho-Hos… without the 2 year old noticing.
After my moment of gluttony, there is that feeling… shame of “I-AM-HIDING-FOOD-FROM-MY CHILDREN!!” Or maybe that should read: “I am hiding my weakness of preservative laden “baked goods” from society as to perpetuate the notion that I am a good- no, GREAT parent because I feed my loved ones organic produce and free range, cruelty free meats (there’s an oxymoron for you) and I keep all HFCS out of my house.”
It’s not like I can’t “afford” the Ho-Hos, after all… we go to the Y almost every day of the week and while there, Mama either rides the bike (spin class) or dances (Zumba) or swims and does some weight training. The girls play at the gym. My goal there is to make exercise a normal part of living. I guess, if they view exercise as a fun part of the day, then the occasional Ho-Ho never hurt anyone. But how do I impart healthy habits on my daughters without it becoming a weight/ body image issue?
Sigh. It’s a hot mess. Tell you what… read the article. It’s so much more eloquent than me.