So I quit Whole 30, and I am here admitting it, even though it makes me sound like a giant failure and I feel a lot like a giant failure!
But first, let me tell you about this other thing, and maybe make you understand.
Every morning I drive Eli to Kindergarten. We park on the street, and we walk in together. Most of the kids get dropped off in front, but parents are encouraged to walk kindergartners all the way into the classroom, and I’m fine with it, so that’s what we do. The kindergartners are in a special section of the school all by themselves, they have their own playground, even, and there’s a little gate called the Kindergarten gate where for 20 or 30 or 40 years, the kindergartners have lined up to be let in and out.
Except not anymore. No more kindergarten gate.
After Adam Lanza opened fire on a classroom full of first graders, Eli’s school called a special safety meeting and they decided that because no one could stand there and monitor the kindergarten gate, it would be closed at drop off from now on, and so we have to walk all the way down the block, past the special gate, into the cafeteria, and then all the way back through the inside of the school to his classroom.
I am not complaining about this, mind you. It takes an extra five minutes or so, and we leave five minutes earlier and it’s a longer walk in cold weather, but parents lost their babies. An extra five minutes walk is fine, in the face of that. It’s nothing, obviously, in the face of that.
But the thing that has happened is that now, for me, that gate will always inextricably be linked in my mind with Adam Lanza. That gate is closed because of one reason and one reason only, because of him. And although I of course do not believe that we should erect monuments to murderers or pay tribute to anyone who has done such a horrible thing, this was not something I planned. It was just something that got stuck, and now every time I walk by that gate, there it is. The gate that is closed because of Adam Lanza. Adam’s Gate.
When Eli first returned to school after the morning after, it was hard. Even though it was not about me, even though my stress at leaving my child is nothing compared to my child being gunned down in school, it’s still hard to send your child into a classroom after your eyes have been opened, after you have realized that gates or no gates, if someone is willing to trade their life for your own, or that of your child, there’s nothing much you can do. You just have to trust in god and fate and the odds. It’s a shitty shitty feeling, really realizing for the first time how little you control when it comes to the life of your child. And for those first few days, it felt so strongly as though there was just absolutely nothing we could do. Nothing.
But the truth is, as I have come to realize, as I am reminded every morning by Adam’s Gate, there’s not nothing we can do. Because the truth is that as much as I would never ever ever ever condone or understand or explain away murdering children in cold blood, I will admit to you with a deep breath and a leap of faith in my safe place here on the internet, there’s always been a dark place in me that understood. Not so much with Newtown, but with Columbine, yes. I would never condone violence or murder or guns or any of that, but if you had to put me in one of two groups, I wouldn’t be in the “really popular in high school group.” I’d be in the “understands what it’s like when high school is a living breathing nightmare” group. And so that dark part in me understood. I understand. I know what it’s like to live through 8 periods of hell every day and I can’t unknow that.
And the truth is that I think that dark place is in my son, as well, and although I try my hardest not to assign personality traits to him that aren’t there, and although he has been to known to surprise the hell out of me, and although I love him with every fiber of my being, I see so much of me in him it takes my breath away. And so although it feels as though there is NOTHING I can do to protect him in a world gone mad, the truth is, there is much I can do to protect him, because it’s not only my job to keep him safe from the Adam Lanzas of the world, it is also my job to make sure he does not become another one. And that is something I have control over, at least some small measure of it, at least when it comes to our home and these childhoods.
And so I am admitting to you right now that I am a yeller. I am impatient and crabby and mercurial. I am strict and mean and I wish every minute of every day that I was a better parent, and I know I need to do a better job, and this is the hardest thing I have ever done, and the most important, and I try harder every day and I fail every day, but this, how I treat my children, if I am yelling and screaming and grabbing little arms too hard? It matters tremendously. It matters more than the number on my pants, it matters more than the number on the scale, it’s more important than anything else. And I AM in control of that.
Unfortunately, Whole 30 made me crabby. Really really crabby. It made me mean. It made me angry.It tweaked something in my brain and I have a history of eating disorders, so I’d say it wasn’t a good tweak. I have incredibly sensitive blood sugar and when it get low I become a raging irrational bitch. I don’t even like hot chocolate, and I couldn’t stop thinking about pouring vats of it down my throat while I screamed at my kids for driving me nuts. And I felt a deep sadness come over me and I started to panic when I couldn’t tell if it was normal, if I needed to go back to the brain doctor, if it was PMS, if it was chocolate related, and I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it.
So I gave up. I ate six peanut M and M’s and I ate some brownies. I felt better immediately. I kept all my dinners as Whole 30 as can be,because I am having fun with it, I am really enjoying it, it mirrors the way I love to cook and it makes me creative and it’s fun! But I also ate at Wendy’s one night when we were working late on a house project and if I start to feel the rage come on I go pop some fish oil and a corner of a chocolate bar.
And you know, I’m good with that. Because every morning when I see that gate, when I vow again to try harder, to yell less, to be a better mom, to say I love you more, to say yes to another cuddle or to a nighttime fort, I know it’s not something I’m good at, I know it’s something I have to fight for. I know how important it is and how bad I am at it, and if a few squares of chocolate are going to help me get there, so be it. It’s not just about me anymore. It’s about me, and Eli, and Katie, and always, there in the back of my mind, every time I see that gate, about Adam.
Filed under: Uncategorized