Under the control of a toddler

It’s good to feel loved and needed, right? It’s a nice secure feeling when someone, without saying it, demonstrates that they can’t live without you, that they need you and only you, always.  Or is that some kind of emotional abuse? Is it actually a small tyrant exerting control over your life?

Like when your two-year-old will not let anyone else do anything for her, not even open her car door.  If someone like, say, her papa, opens her car door, she screams ‘No, Mama do it,’ and if the door is not immediately closed, breaks down into heart wrenching tears. Because surely, only Mama knows the correct way to open a door (it involves pulling on the handle, in a manner that is – in some undetectable way – different from the way anyone else can do it).

Like when your two-year-old trips and falls, mere feet away from her loving adoring Papa, who wants nothing more than to console her, but she backs away from him, screaming, because only Mama is allowed to pick her up, even though Mama is on the other side of the house, fully occupied with other tasks.

Like when your husband is able to successfully transfer your sleeping toddler from the car, carries her into the house and settles in with her on his lap, staring at her adoringly, but she wakes and sees whose arms she is in, and a full on meltdown occurs, because only Mama is supposed to hold her, and she makes that hysterically clear until Mama runs in to rescue the sobbing mess and the poor man who is trying to deal with both the physical contortions of the flailing child and the stabbing emotional pain of knowing that he cannot console her.

It’s harder for Will than it is for me.  I can sigh and bow to the whims of the little dictator, I can fulfill my role as the only butt-wiper and wound-kisser, and I know it is only temporary, and one day she will be a teenager and reject both of us.  It is poor Will who suffers, poor Will who just wants to be able to interact with his child without being faced with screaming rejection.

Is being two a good excuse?

Me: Mellow, please get out of the bathtub.

No response.

Me: Mellow, it is time to get out of the bathtub.

Mellow: <glaring balefully> I’m not going to do that, so just stop talking about it.

She’s two-and-a-half.  I suppose her response was a bit nicer than the “Tough crap, I’m doing it anyway” phase that Wildling went through at the same age.

 

Is this on your eating plan?

Before I was diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency, and was attempting to use Google instead of a medical professional, I self-diagnosed as having adrenal fatigue. It very neatly checked off all of the boxes for what I was feeling and what I knew to be wrong.  Of course, there still could be adrenal issues (though my bloodwork tells me my thyroid is just fine).

My self-diagnosis led to a massive change in my eating habits.  I read a few books and blogs and decided to follow an adrenal fatigue diet, which is fundamentally incompatible with veganism. I’ve re-incorporated eggs and poultry and fish into my diet, and I’ve stopped referring to it as cheating when I have dairy.  I’ve eliminated all processed sugars and refined carbohydrates like bread and pasta.  I’m eating small meals/snacks every three hours.

Overall, I think I’m getting healthier, and I’ve continued this eating plan even after getting my vitamin D deficiency diagnosis.

But here’s where I have to be careful: I can’t call it a diet. I can’t say “I’m following an adrenal fatigue diet” or “that food isn’t ok on my diet.” I have two young girls, and I’m raising them in a country full of body issues, where you’re shamed if you don’t fit a size zero, but you’re also bombarded with ads that say things like ‘real women have curves.’ What’s a girl to do? Starve yourself skinny and be told you aren’t a real woman? Gain weight and be told you aren’t pretty because you aren’t model-thin? Stress over your food and measure every calorie? Workout so you’re allowed to indulge in a piece of cake? Constantly worry about what you can and cannot eat?

I want my daughters to be healthy. I want them to feel good about themselves and their bodies.  Will and I often preach moderation, yes you can have cookies, in moderation.  Focus on healthy foods to help your mind and body grow. Sugar, yes, in moderation (especially at Grandma’s house). Run and play and climb because it’s fun, not because you need to work off your food.

I don’t want them to hear me talk about being on a diet. I don’t want them to grow up thinking that going on diets and depriving oneself is a way of life. I don’t want to normalize the concept of ‘dieting’ as deprivation.  I don’t want them to look back and think ‘oh, my mama was always on a diet, that’s the way it should be.’

So I tell them I’m trying a new eating plan, and I’m trying different things to get myself healthier.  And they ask me if things are on my eating plan.  I was at the grocery store with Mellow and she held up a bag of lollipops and said “Mama? Can you have these? Are these on your eating plan?” and of course I told her they aren’t on my eating plan, but they are on hers, as long as she doesn’t eat too many at once.

 

Singing to my children

I admit it: I can’t sing. I’m completely tone deaf, and my singing voice makes that very clear. But I love singing. I love singing along to the radio, I love singing with my kids. If I could change one thing about myself, I’d give myself a beautiful singing voice (and then I’d exploit the hell out of it and everybody would be so sick of listening to me).

Every night, Mellow requests that I sing her a song.  Someday, she’s going to grow up and tell me never to sing around her again. Someday, she’s going to call me an embarrassment.  But now, as a two-year-old, she thinks my voice is beautiful (or at least, I assume she thinks that).  Her current favorite lullaby fluctuates between ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ and the horribly depressing ‘Rock-a-bye Baby,’ or, as she calls it, ‘Wocka Wocka My Little Baby.’

I’m not a fan of singing about creepy men spying on my kids to determine how nice they are and whether they’re sleeping (seriously, Santa is a creepy concept!) or about babies falling out of trees, presumably to their deaths.  But, hey, if that’s what my only willing audience wants, that’s what she gets.

 

Emerging from the depths of vitamin deficiency induced depression

I told myself that I would know I was getting better when I started to be able to write again. And so here I am.  I don’t know if I’m actually getting that much better, but maybe psychologically, if I force myself to write, it will help bring me back the rest of the way.

I’ve been dealing with health issues.  I ended up in a dark spiral of fatigue and depression. I lacked all motivation and energy. I couldn’t complete tasks.  I was always living in with my brain in a fog. I couldn’t sleep, but I needed to. Even when I did sleep, I woke up exhausted.

It took months before I was able to admit to Will that I wasn’t handling things, that I did need help.  I thought I could fight through the fatigue on my own – I’ve been dealing with it for years. But then I realized I had crossed over into depression. I realized that I was unhappy, and miserable, and I took no pleasure from anything in life.  Will hadn’t realized it was getting that bad for me.  I think he still doesn’t quite understand.  He kept telling me to call the doctor and get some bloodwork done, to see if we could figure out what was causing all this.  He didn’t understand that I couldn’t overcome my inertia enough to even make that phone call. Eventually though, he did it for me.

And it turns out I have vitamin D deficiency.  That’s it.  It seems almost trivial to write that.  Yeah, I just needed a vitamin, that makes it all better.

It’s not that simple, of course.  I’m taking a massive weekly dose of vitamin D, plus a daily multivitamin.  I’m getting more sleep.  I’ve changed my eating habits to make sure I’m eating every 2-3 hours, to keep my blood sugar level.  I’m turning off all electronics at 9:00 so that I can go to be at 10:00 and actually fall asleep.  I’ve re-introduced fish and chicken into my diet.

Slowly, I’m getting better. I can feel myself improving. My hair isn’t falling out in clumps anymore, and I have the energy to do things around the house and take Willow on outings.  But if I exercise, I’m fatigued for days afterwards. Will keeps telling me to ride my bike more (before the weather gets impossibly hot), but when I do, I feel like I’m taking a step backwards in my recovery.

I’m working on it though.  I’m also working on dealing with a little bit of anger. Over a year ago, I had a physical with bloodwork.  And the doctor never shared the results with me, so I assumed everything was fine.  At that time, what they failed to tell me, was that not only was I vitamin D insufficient, just a step above the deficiency I’m being treated for, but my levels were so depleted that I was literally .01ng/ml above deficiency.  I can’t help but think that if they had just told me that, I would have started taking vitamin D supplements way back then, and I wouldn’t have spent the past several months suffering and miserable.

But I can’t go back and change that, so I’m trying to just focus on now.  I’m just focusing on healing myself, so that I can be healthy again for my family.