As a child I hid candy under my pillow and tucked it among my pedal pushers and t-shirts in the dresser drawers. Now I hide it on high shelves and in a wicker basket among my business receipts and in the cupboard above the closet next to the Christmas presents.
I need to give up sugar, or at least cut way back. I’ve thought about it for years, I’ve tried it before, I’ve read the recent studies detailing every awful thing that sugar does to your body, your moods, your skin. I know it siphons away my energy and ambition.
I used to think that once I gave up sugar and ate better, I’d become a different person and live the kind of life I wanted to live. But it’s become clear that the truth is that I need to become a different person and then I’ll give up sugar and eat better and live the kind of life I want to live.
There’s a book I love called Potatoes, Not Prozac that asks the question, If you just got back from dinner and you were completely full and perhaps you had even had desert, and you walked into your house and there was a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies sitting on the table, would you have one? Well, of course, I thought, who wouldn’t? And she explained that not everyone would eat the cookies. SOME PEOPLE WOULDN’T EAT THE COOKIES. And that just blew my mind.
I know it’s a one-day-at-a-time kind of process. I can’t think too far ahead. Motivation will come and go. There are very important reasons that I’ve listed in my notebook why I must do this. Some days they’ll be enough and some days they won’t. I’m hoping that most days they will.
One day when I was pregnant with my second daughter and my older daughter was two-and-a-half, I was desperate to shower, to wash my hair and have a moment to myself standing under hot, hot water. I gave my daughter a Dum Dum from her Halloween bag and told her I would be out in a minute and I left the door ajar. I rushed through my shower and as I was getting out of the tub I heard her crying and she came to the bathroom door and pushed it open. She was wide-eyed and had a stunned look on her tear-streaked face and and she was holding her white stick aloft, denuded of its lollipop, as a mute testimony. As I stood there dripping on the bath mat, I came to understand that she had sucked the entire ball off the stick and it had lodged in her throat a minute before she could finally spit it out. A growing sense of awfulness and guilt rose up from my toes and flooded my body and pushed up through my heart. I repeated over and over to myself, ‘She could have been dying while I was taking a shower. She could have been lying out there while I washed my hair.’
I think of that moment sometimes, pull it out and turn it over and examine it and think, “What if?” until I have to put it away.
When my first child was a baby and our days together were wide and deep and I woke up every morning excited to start my day, I was fully present in each moment. I sucked the marrow out of every minute of the day. I remember so much about those days. But as our family got larger and the newness wore off, the days didn’t feel like an adventure but something to get through, and everything began to blur together. I have to pull out my photo albums to remember what our days looked like.
I’ve gotten in the habit of gliding across the surface, instead of submerging myself. And I don’t want to be hanging out on the surface of my own life. I’ve read Parenting From the Inside Out and Everyday Blessings over and over and my hardest challenge to slow down and to appreciate the moments as they are placed before me.
I stood outside last night in the backyard beneath clouds of unfallen snow. The mountains were hidden under bruises of gray clouds and the breeze shifted into second gear as it swept down the mountain and shook the treetops. The cats were on high alert and ran across the yard to investigate any stirring beneath the bushes and then chased each other up a tree. I wish I could tell you about a moment of clarity, that while standing there in the gathering chill something clicked and I straightened my shoulders and went inside and learned to Live in the Present. Nah. But I have decided to start winnowing away that things that waste my time or make me feel inadequate or crazy. More on that later.