From 7 Years Ago, Starting This Blog……to Now

4 kids color
Emma (18), Tennyson (13), Libby (16), Kincade (20), May 2014

Seven years ago, as I started this blog, I ruminated a lot on my family’s menus, the “in the trenches” work I was doing daily, raising kids from 6 to 13 years old.

Time has flown.

Now I find myself still parenting, but in a far more limited way. One teen lives with me, the other lives with Dad. The two oldest are adults, mostly on their own. I find myself mostly looking back and wondering, “Was it enough?”

I used to imagine myself, as a very young mother, raising up these immaculately pure vessels. Paragons of ideal health. When my first child was a year old, due to his illnesses and my own, I began to educate myself.

Suddenly I discovered I’d been asleep at the wheel! There were toxins everywhere, the food I’d been serving him was worthless and even harmful. I’d faithfully let his doctor shoot him up with whatever the current pediatrics schedules dictated. I was obedient, and fully in the mainstream of doing whatever everyone else does.

That’s where we all are. Until we aren’t. Information caught up with me and slapped me in the back of the head.

I imagined myself raising perfectly healthy kids. Taking the road less traveled. Protecting them from drinking water out of plastic. My kids would have their stainless steel. Or glass jars, when they were older. I’d make sure they never drank from the tap. Green smoothies for lunch at school, baggies of veggies! They’d be grossed out by the Cheetohs their friends ate. I’d have told them what that orange color really is. This would move them.

perfect parent 1I’d buy nutrition books for them, give them summer reading rewards to complete them, tell the family about them.

I imagined myself running healthy treats to their schools, their teachers in church, the babysitting co-op.

Patiently talking to church leaders, teachers, school administration, sports league coordinators who want every kid to be fed a donut and a corn-syrup drink after every athletic event.

I pictured myself taking an alternative “treat” (like boxes of dried fruit, and fruit leather, and carob almonds in Baggies) around to the neighbors before my Trick-or-Treaters hit the streets in their costumes.

Pointing out the Why in everything that I did. So my kids’ education ran deep. Their habits and “comfort foods” as they reached adulthood would include knowing how to make quinoa in 10 minutes and do a variety of things with it, lickety split.

I imagined them as teens and young adults, whipping up a green smoothie before taking off for work. Always choosing a whole-grain option, and opting out of eating grains, where possible, if they aren’t sprouted and yeast-free and non-hybridized.

I imagined them tall and strong, acne free, without cavities or orthodontia, quietly eating a different diet than everyone else. Fiercely committed to it because they’d been educated so well.

Do you moms relate to this? Sure pure intent, such ambition. Had things gone the way I’d imagined, I’d be a “success” by my early definition. I’d probably also be insufferably self-righteous, not particularly compassionate to all the other moms out there mucking around just trying to get everybody fed. Trying to do better, with mixed results.

let go2Where I am now, 20 years later, is a rather different place. Even writing all of that, I confess to feeling no small measure of pain. For all the ways I’ve “let go” of the need to be perfect, of the need to build a fence at the top of every cliff, I still notice, every day, my “failures.” I’m more at peace with them than I was before.

The main thing I rely on, to get me through the disappointments in parenting, is this thought:

“I’ve done what I can do.”

I tried really, really hard. I pretty much did every single thing I wrote, above! And more. It’s tempting to catalog every way I’ve failed in that essentially unachievable imaginary parenting Utopia. (The original plan failed to understand the power of choice—my kids, lacking maturity, with the pull of the world around them, make their own choices, and many, if not most, of them aren’t great, now.)

But then, I’d be depressed, and I’d lower everyone’s vibration. It’s easy to dwell on the fact that I was too “controlling” and less “sunshiny and education-oriented” many times. And beat myself up that I learned too late, how to mother most effectively.

It’s easy to focus on the can of corn-syrup drink, or the wadded-up McDonald’s bag, that I see in my son’s car. It has happened. I know what happens to people who eat genetically modified foods, and fast foods. I talk to these folks all the time: I read their emails, I meet them at my lectures. They’re figuring out how their diet has impacted them and contributed to so many disease states.

Not my boy! Please, not my boy–not after the price I’ve paid to be different. To get him out of his hellish health problems early in life, before his immune system was fully formed. You can imagine these are thoughts running through my head.

What if, right now, I think on a few very good things that have made it all worth it–despite the failings.

First, my kids don’t have “positive associations” with “Happy Meals” and drive-thrus and candy and soda and bags of salty snacks. Hopefully this matters a lot.

Second, their brains are grooved to know what almond bars, and green smoothies, and huge plates of salad and kefir, and fruits for snacking are. They have a thousand memories of homemade whole foods. Childhood programming is powerful.  Regardless of what they do now, they have a place to come back to. If declining health starts to teach them a lesson. I talk to people in their 60’s all the time who have never practiced any of these good habits. Maybe, despite the sketchy choices I see my kids making now, when they’re away from home, this alone makes it all worthwhile?

Third, following the Pottenger cat study, maybe having outstanding nutrition while they were growing up, is why none of my kids needed braces. All have lovely teeth. Both of their parents required orthodontia! (The Pottenger cat study showed how you can rehabilitate genetics with a strong diet.)

No-Way-To-Be-a-Perfect-MotherFourth, all of them are tall and strong. Baby Boy asks me every day to stand back-to-back with me to see if he’s taller than me, yet. It will happen this summer, as he turns 14.

Fifth, I catch them talking their friends into drinking a green smoothie, asking for one of my books for someone they know who wants to improve their diet, or speaking favorably about the health-nut home they were raised in.

Sixth, aforesaid boy with junk-food wrappers in his car? He texted me, recently, “Mom, I’m dying.” I drove to his apartment, shoveled all 6’4” of him into my car on a Friday morning, and took him by to my house. For 2.5 days, I took him to my massage therapist, and I had him spraying ACS in his mouth every hour. I took him home Sunday night, all better, and ready to go to work Monday morning.

I’m not sure I would even get a passing grade, if the fantasy parenting-Utopia list that began this blog were the requirements of a college class. I’m holding a space for it to all turn out okay anyway. I have done all I can do.

15 thoughts on “From 7 Years Ago, Starting This Blog……to Now

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  1. I love this. Thanks for always being so real. I have always thought “at least I taught them good” also. And when they don’t feel well they think about what they’ve eaten. Knowledge is so powerful. You are an amazing mother! I love the quotes you posted also.

  2. Your words were just perfect! You beautifully articulated the struggle and modeled the good fight. Congratulations on seven years, I can’t wait to see what the coming years hold.

  3. This is a powerful post. I wish my Grandkids had/have been raised this way but I can only say and do so much. they think I nag too much the way it is. LOL I am so scared as to what GMOs are doing to their developing bodies. I am trying to talk all I can to my now 19 YO Granddaughter who is away at college but lives in a apt style dorm so she can do a lot of her own cooking. I wish I had the internet and all t his info when my kids were growing up although we didn’t have to deal with GMOs then. Keep up the good work. I do have to say I have seen my daughter and DIL make some changes I have talked about so maybe it is slowly sinking in. LOL

  4. He will come around as he got older. I grew up with a dad who ate a pure diet. He took us children when we were young to a pig farm to see how “bacon” was raised. (Totally grossed us out). He introduced us to all sorts of interesting healthy foods. If he did indulge in a treat, he’d have it sitting in the cupboard for weeks, just eating a little sliver now and then. He took joy in taking care of his body. When I was in high school, college, and early marriage I started eating a lot more junk food and even declared at one point “I’m eating worse than I ever did, and I feel better than I ever have.” But you’re right, all it took was a few health problems to make me re-assess how I wanted to eat. Now I probably eat even healthier than my dad. All because he modeled self control, joy in healthy eating, and continued learning about what is healthiest.

  5. Thank you for this, Robyn! It’s so great to feel like it’s okay not to be perfect, and for our kids not to make perfect choices. We are not perfect people, and so I don’t know how we can expect our kids – who don’t even have fully developed brains – to make the right choices all the time. It has also taken me a while to let go of some of that control, and to be okay with my kid’s poor food choices. But, we feel so much better when we do!

  6. Oh Robyn! I’m right there with ya! I’ve done so many of these same things with my girls (now 17 & 21). I was in tears after reading this as I too daily ask myself if I did enough. I see my girls now making unwise choices. However, if they are not feeling well, they do come back to me for their “healthy” fix. Or if a friend has some condition they will ask me how they can advise them. It shows they have heard me-so I keep at it, nicely now. (Had to learn the importance of that one.) Happy 7th anniversary. Keep up the good work–you are helping so many.

  7. The gift of health that you have given to your children through educating them, modeling for them and building strong immune systems within them as young ones, will forever impact them. They will always know the foundation to return to, no matter their health choices and that is powerful, especially considering that 99% of the adult population is strongly lacking in that knowledge and has to educate themselves.

  8. This was beautiful. As I watch my daughter become an adult and head off to college, I can only hope I’ve instilled in her the desire to make choices that will positively affect her life, including her eating habits. I too have struggled, as a single mom, with the need to be perfect. As I look back, I realize, no matter what happens from this point forward, or what choices my children make, I know I did the best I could do. There’s a sense of peace that comes with being able to say that.

  9. Thanks for sharing and always keeping it Real, Robyn! I was so excited to find you 7 years ago and what a journey it has been. I feel so grateful for all I have learned from you and still do. Thank you!!!!! 🙂

  10. thank you so much for sharing with us the struggles, challenges, and feelings and emotions we all have on a daily basis trying to get our children to appreciate what we already have so learned and loved to appreciate it with our knowledge! it’s not an easy road and words can not express how nice it is to hear we are not alone on this journey!

  11. What a compliment that your son called you for help. He knows what to do. He’s just experimenting, like we all did at his age. Love and peace to you for all your caring and sharing.

  12. Wow, I love this Robyn! Thanks for sharing your life with us. You live what you preach, you always have! I remember when you did bring the healthy trick-or-treat candy to our home for your kids, it was definitely eye-opening to me! Thanks for being such a wonderful example of what a good mom is.

  13. Nutritionally speaking, I ‘raised’ myself, starting sometime in my 30’s, and the self-recrimination you feel when YOU are the kid that left the McDonalds wrapper in the car – still…at 54! – is just all kinds of fun >: ) But I remind myself that what used to be a continent of bad eating is now an occasional island, and kids get wiser as they get older, I hold out great hope for myself.

  14. Thanks so much Robyn! This is totally how I feel! My kids are still young (5,7 &10) and I have a long way to go! Good to know I am not alone at feeling bad that I don’t do more. I keep trying. I so hope that my efforts help them in the coming years to make choices that will make them feel better and be healthier. I so appreciate all the effort you put into educating all of us who are trying to improve the SAD diet we have adopted:-( Have a great rest of the summer!!

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