Mealtime Battles

When Grady started eating solids, he pretty consistently rejected new things and then started eating -and loving- them pretty quickly. Between the ages of one and two, he ate whatever I put in front of him. He would eat shepherd's pie, broccoli with homemade cheese sauce, spaghetti with meat sauce, without complaint. He would snack on black beans and homemade fruit leather and plain, unsweetened yogurt. You guys, I was so smug.

And then, in the months leading up to his second birthday, I got sick. I cooked a lot less. Grady was introduced to boxed (organic!) mac & cheese and flavoured (read: sweetened) yogurt. And other convenience foods that didn't require a lot of prep or effort. Food that was toddler-friendly. Food that was easy.

And he turned two. He started developing opinions and preferences and the voice to make those opinions and preferences known. And to a certain degree, food became an area of tension.

I say to a certain degree because I refused to battle. I would get annoyed but I refused to force Grady to eat anything because a: I don't want to fight with him at every meal and b: I don't think forcing him to consume certain items is setting him up with healthy food habits.

Let me just take a little intermission here to say that I don't judge anyone for the way they approach food with their kids. Kids are tough, man. Food can be particularly tough because it's something that affects us every day, multiple times a day. When I say I don't do something, it's because we've decided it's something that doesn't work for our family, not because we think no one should do that thing ever. You do you. We cool? Cool.

So! Food battles. I wasn't interested. I figured we would continue to offer Grady a wide variety of foods and he could pick and choose what he wanted to eat. I thought that the list of foods he would accept would slowly but steadily grow but instead we've seen the opposite happen. The list of acceptable foods has slowly but surely shrunk and mealtime has become less "here's a plate of healthy, appealing foods. What would you like to try?" and more "HERE IS A PLATE OF FOOD. EAT SOMETHING PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD."

And it sucks. I love food. I love to cook. I love to grocery shop. I love to read about food. I love to look at pictures of food. I love to try new recipes. Cooking for people is my love language. It's something I want to share with Grady. I don't want mealtimes to be a battle of wills and that's what they've become.

This morning broke me. I made waffles and blueberry sauce from scratch. I made a fruit plate with four different types of fruit. I made crispy fried eggs. Grady ate a plain waffle and balked at the fruit and the yogurt cup I put in front of him. I gave him his choice of fruit. We went back and forth for an hour before he agreed to eat one apple slice. One apple slice which he chewed for a good ten minutes until it was liquefied and then made him gag when he tried to swallow. The apple slice in which I had invested 70 minutes of negotiations ended up spewed all over the kitchen counter.

Now, I know I did not handle this morning particularly well. I do not normally play into the power struggle. Usually I let it go. Eat some fruit or don't eat some fruit, whatever. But we've been making real progress in the poop doula department and I want to continue that momentum. For some reason, this morning, I just needed Grady to eat the damn fruit. And he didn't. It was like he could smell my desperation.

We both had a good cry. And we hugged it out. And I don't think any lasting damage was done. But I'm spent. I can't fight about food at every meal but I don't know what else I can try to get Grady to eat. I've tried including him in the cooking process. I've tried taking him grocery shopping to pick out food he's interested in eating. We've read books on digestion and how food helps him grow. I don't know what else to do.

So please, all-knowing internet, tell me: how do you make your picky eater eat?

To Bed

Back in January, Shawn and I decided that it was time to enforce the no-toddlers-in-mom-and-dad's-bed rule. And then the shitstorm of awfulness happened and enforcing any rules beyond "no playing with knives" and "no electronics in the bath" was too difficult and ate up too much energy.

We moved Grady's mattress to the floor beside our bed and he slept there every night and crawled into our bed every morning. It was an improvement over fighting a sleeping ninja toddler all night but it wasn't a perfect solution. 

Grady has a few stuffies (Ryder from Paw Patrol, Olaf from Frozen, and a baby doll) so Shawn and I had the brilliant idea that we would buy them the IKEA doll bed for Grady's birthday. He'd see how his loveys slept in a big boy bed and he would want to sleep in a big boy bed. We felt very smug. We were going to outsmart the Tiny Dictator. Our parenting prowess is unmatched. 

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Yes, that is a sleeping child and his doll bed in my bed. The Tiny Dictator has outsmarted us once again. 

Okay / Not Okay

I am okay until I am not okay and the shift always catches me by surprise. For the most part, I am doing okay. I am still in regular therapy and it's been extremely helpful for me. But it's frustrating to still be in this okay / not okay holding pattern because I expected to be "better" by now. (Better. Ha. What is better?)

I met my new niece last week. She was less than a week old, brand new and squishy. I am over-the-moon happy for my sister and her family. I am so in love with my new little family member. Grady was so interested in the tiny little baby with her button nose and her wee toes and her snuffly little cries. It physically hurt to see Grady interact with his new baby cousin. I don't want it to. I don't want to be sad when I see babies or pregnant ladies. And I'm not, always. I'm happysad. I'm okay / not okay.

My oldest friend is getting married in Wales this week. I expected to be there with her. I told her I would be there with her. Spoiler alert: I am not there with her. I am not okay enough to travel to Europe. My anxiety and my energy levels will not allow me to be there for my oldest friend as she marries her love.  

My sisters and my oldest friend and my people tell me it is okay to be not okay. They tell me to be gentle with myself and take the time I need to get better. They tell me to feel my feelings and not worry about disappointing anyone - I will be okay when I am okay and trying to force it or pretend isn't helping anyone. My sisters and my oldest friend and my people are smart people. They are thoughtful and kind and wise so I will make myself believe that they know what they're talking about. I will trust that one day I will just be okay. So okay that I don't even think about it anymore, I'll just be. And until that day comes, I will try my hardest to stop pretzeling myself into the shape of someone who is okay all the time.  

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Hearts and Heads

If you told me that you were struggling, that you weren't sleeping and you found yourself feeling panicky and afraid in situations that would not normally cause that response, I would encourage you to get help. I would tell you that there is nothing to be ashamed of, that mental health is just as important as physical health. I would tell you to be gentle with yourself. To give yourself room to work through these feelings and not get down on yourself for having them in the first place. I would tell you to talk as much as you need to if keeping these feelings inside and silencing yourself is too painful. I would tell you that you are not weak for needing help, you are strong for recognizing that you need help.

I would tell you these things because I believe them to be true.

But I am having a very difficult time believing these things about myself.

I was diagnosed with PTSD a couple weeks ago. I am seeing a psychologist. I feel like a whiner who needs to sack up and get over it because there are people who have it much rougher than I do. I am finding it really challenging to be empathetic to myself and it's ridiculous, I know it's ridiculous with my head but my heart is all "shut up, Hillary!" and my heart is always louder than my head.