Thursday, February 4, 2010

When we were young

     I recently got into a debate with someone over the fact that I could "control" my environment.  I scoffed as I thought of the lack of control I often feel with my three toddlers who are dependent on me for EVERYTHING.  Even on days I THINK I have a system and we are headed for success, things quickly spiral the other way.  I tried to consider ways that I can retain control-if not with my kids, with I don't eat my way through child-rearing.  What else can I do in those moments when I doubt myself as a good parent? What feels better than a grilled cheese sandwich or a cookie or some chips?  I dug deep into my history and tried to discover a time/place when food wasn't my refuge from chaos.  I thought about when I was very young and I couldn't cook and I couldn't reach the cookie jar and my mom would have said no if I asked for one.  What did I do in those moments when I felt out of control? How did I resolve my issues and calm myself sans food?

I was a big fan of DRAWING and PAINTING and I loved to play with my pastels and create brilliantly colored works of "art".  I had a killer art set and colors made me happy.  I might have to go and get myself a set and in stressful moments draw even a small picture or a postcard that I could send off in the mail to someone I love.  I'm going to set up two easels in my garage so my daughter (who also loves art) and I can go in there and paint when we are frustrated.

I loved to READ and WRITE.  I would write EVERYTHING - stories, poems and notes to friends.  I would consult the back of my "Tiger Beat" magazine and write fan letters to my favorite teen idols (Kirk Cameron, John Stamos, Duran Duran-yes I am old!).  Since I am an "Army Brat" we moved every 2 years so I was a VERY dedicated pen-pal.  There was always a friend left behind who I could write a letter to and I LOVED getting mail back, and imagined how my life would have played out if I was still there.  Reading BOOKS enabled me to travel to other places if I wasn't happy with where we were at the time.  Right now I'm reading "The Blind Side" by Michael Lewis and it's kept me OUT of the kitchen.

As a little girl I loved to SING and I loved MUSIC.  I still do.  My sister and I would perform everything from "The Sound of Music" to the "Fame" and "Flashdance" soundtracks, John Denver and of course, Madonna. I might have to spare my kids my voice (thank GOD "American Idol" wasn't around when I was young!) but I can expend my energy on playing songs on my ipod for them or making a "mix" with them.  It is one of my goals to learn piano and the guitar the kids got for Christmas.  That's where my energy should be spent.

     I also loved to be around people and talk to people who loved these very same things.  Those are the ways I used to express myself and still try to.  These things make me happy - I'm going to try to refocus my energy away from the kitchen.  Just because we moms are physically in the kitchen all the time, doesn't mean that's where we need to go for solace.

Think back to your childhood, what, besides food, made you feel better?