As I have freely admitted many times, I am an emotional eater. I eat when I’m happy. I eat when I’m sad. I eat when I’m stressed. I celebrate with food. I mourn with food. I work very hard every day to change that part of me, but it is no easy task. And being the mother to three young children who are very close in age can make some days extremely difficult. As the saying goes, motherhood is the toughest job you’ll ever love. It is loaded with stress, but the joys and rewards and all that unconditional love make it extremely worthwhile.
There was one particular weekend this summer, however, where my ability to handle parental stress was challenged. And I’m not talking about the typical, every day parenting stress…whining, bickering…teasing. This was the perfect storm of parenting stress. It is truly a miracle that we all made it out alive and that I did not eat my weight in junk food. That would not have been pretty.
The funny thing is the day started out beautifully. My husband was traveling over the weekend on a business trip so I took the kids to the pool for the afternoon. We had a wonderful time swimming and hanging out at the pool with friends…truly one of those perfect summer days. Little did I know what was in store for me.
On the way home from the pool, we made a little side trip to Target to pick up a few necessities…one of them being new flip flops for the boys, a quick, uneventful trip…no worries, right? WRONG. There we were standing in the shoe section looking at the vast wall of flip flops when my youngest decides he doesn’t want flip flops. He wants winter shoes. He very nicely asked me to buy him some shoes, and I just as nicely told him no, he didn’t need a pair of black leather dress shoes in the middle of July. “Come pick out a pair of flip flops,” I said to him. “NO…I WANT THESE SHOES,” he bellowed back at me.
I very calmly explained to him (really, I did) that he was not getting shoes, and that if he didn’t pick out the flip flops, I would do it for him. This little scene went on for a few minutes with me showing him flip flops and him screaming “NO"…I WANT THESE SHOES” at me. Finally, I picked out a pair and put them in the shopping cart. The end…NOT. Unfortunately for me and everyone else in the store, I had other things that I needed to buy, and as is usually the case when being publicly humiliated, I had to go literally from one end of the store to the other…all with my 7-year-old who looks like a 9-year-old having the biggest tantrum of his life.
Most people who are unlucky enough have this experience are lucky enough that their child is two, three, four…not SEVEN! I have never received so many stares and dirty looks. If looks could kill I would have dropped to the floor right on the spot. This sweet child of mine never let up. At one point, and those of you who know him know how big and strong he is, he grabbed the front of the cart and pushed it back towards me to prevent me from going any further (and he’s strong enough to do it too). Well, I showed him. I took out the few things that were in the cart and carried them in my arms. I won! Not really. He just followed me along, grabbing at me, pulling on me, falling to the floor, all the while screaming bloody murder. Can you say mortifying?
I left that store completely and utterly emotionally drained. I had nothing left. I had won the battle but not without suffering heavy casualties. And all the while that I was driving home, all I could think about is what can I eat…pizza? McDonalds? Wendy’s? What was it going to be? Or should I wait until I put the kids to bed and treat myself to Chinese or Mexican delivered right to my door. I started to feel better, calmer. One of these tasty treats was going to make everything right in my world again.
As soon as I got home, I went right to the computer to look at my options for food delivery. We have a food delivery service in town that will deliver orders from several area restaurants so the possibilities were endless. Whatever I wanted I could have delivered right to my doorstep. How wonderful is that? I poured over the menus choosing one thing, then looking at another menu and changing my order, all the while my pulse racing in anticipation of the feast I would soon be enjoying. I must have spent 45 minutes picking and choosing and changing my order. So many choices to help make me feel better again.
Then the strangest thing happened. Just as I had finally decided what I was going to order, it hit me. This is NOT the way to console myself. So my son embarrassed me in public in the middle of a crowded store. So what? Was eating all that junk going to erase that? No. All it was going to do was make me feel good for about five minutes, and don’t get me wrong, it is a wonderful feeling…so comforting, like a big, giant food security blanket taking away all your troubles…until I overstuff myself and then start hating myself for being so weak. I definitely didn’t need that! The day had been bad enough already.
So needless to say I am feeling really good about myself and all without the food. I’m so proud of the progress I have made over the past few months. The numbers on the scale are changing, and so is my attitude toward food and toward myself. I feel more powerful every day and confident that I can handle anything that comes my way…all by myself, without my edible security blanket. GO ME!!