I will never forget the time I sat in the closet my belly panging at me begging to be fed. I was so upset that I simply was unable to speak. My anxiety disorder completely ignored. I was shouting on the inside but of course, no one could hear that except me the hollow echoes in my head repeating over and over. And Because I was hiding in the closet no one was really seeing me either. I just simply didn’t exist to anyone but myself and I didn’t even like myself. My heart hurt. I felt so unloved, so unimportant and insignificant. My mother came to me finally and frustrated asked what was wrong but I could not speak so I said nothing and she got more frustrated and said “fine, sit and pout!” and stomped away leaving me all alone some more. Everything felt so empty just like my stomach and it seemed there would never be an end to it because I could not speak.
I was so upset because my mother had made soup for dinner. My favorite kind at the time Bean and bacon from Campbell’s, we used to get the extra huge cans to feed all the many children in my family. This time however there just wasn’t enough and it was gone before I got any and I was starving because usually, I didn’t get to eat during the day while my mom was at work. I was very lucky to get school lunch for free and always ate all of it which I got made fun of for because I was also a fat kid.
It was always feast or famine in my house. So when my mom got paid we would gorge on pizza and ice cream. The ice cream would come in those rectangle boxes which she would cut up into exactly even squares one for each of us. I don’t remember a ton of vegetables in my house, except zucchini bread. Fresh fruit was kind of a rarity. I remember getting great big bags of peaches or apples from neighbors or people my mother worked with and eating so many all at once I don’t think I ate anything else that day. My mom made a lot of spaghetti and we never went hungry around Thanksgiving. I myself cook my mother’s Thanksgiving dinner because it is everything you could possibly want on Thanksgiving. My mother is an amazing cook she was just very busy going to school getting her Bachelor’s degree, working full time, and trying to raise eight children on her own. Well seven then six for two of my brothers would go off to the army and serve in and around the time of Desert Storm.
So I spent a lot of my childhood being hungry. I remember summer days where my brothers and I would eat green popsicles, I don’t know if they were supposed to be lime or margarita flavor or what but they were the least favorite which is why they were still available for more than a day, and 99% fat free microwave popcorn because my mother was often on a diet and we didn’t really know how to cook anything or have many options to cook anyways. We would sometimes make pickle and ketchup sandwiches and that was because we had no hamburger but we still ate them pretty happily if I remember correctly. Today I joke that we were like Ice Cube’s character’s house in the movie Friday “Damn ya’ll ain’t never got two things that match… either ya’ll got Kool-aid, no sugar; peanut butter, no jelly; ham, no burger… Damn!!” We never seemed to have cereal and milk at the same time. We ate a lot of dry cereal as kids.
My children will never know this feeling. I over shop or stress shop when our kitchen gets too low on food. I panic. If I can’t come up with at least a few meal options so that they will have a choice to have their bellies full my heart sinks and my anxiety kicks in and I can not handle it. I run to the store and buy everything! We only have one can of tuna? We need at least two more. Ramen we need just in case, better to eat Ramen than to starve, throw an egg in it, it is at least substantial… oh, we need eggs one of those huge ass five dozen packages. We need lots of Larabars and granola bars and cereal bars and food that would last if the fridge dies. I’m not just prepared for a spontaneous dinner, I am prepared for the zombie apocalypse.
Most kids already worry about stuff. Elementary school was awful for me. Every day I would have a stomach ache from my anxiety and every day I would suffer from my intense shyness and fear that no one liked me. And now my oldest son is showing signs of an anxiety disorder as well. I have taken every measure to help him cope. He knows grounding techniques and breathing techniques, he’s in therapy, he’s allowed to talk about it and be reassured the panic and fear is real even if the actual antagonist is not. The last thing a small child, my child, should have to worry about is where they are going to get food from. That is a basic need.
So my children will never feel that echoing hollow pang of going all day without eating. My children will never sit alone in the closet hungry and unable to speak because they are unsure what else to do. They will never have to fight to get an equal amount or worry that there won’t be enough for them. They will have options and healthy ones. They will be made to try new things and get to experience food the way food should be experienced and enjoyed. They won’t have to worry about when or what they will be eating for their next meal. They will never know what it is like to truly be starving, they will complain they are starving but they will not actually be in fact starving.
I’m a mom and I love it! I like inviting people into my world and making them feel as comfortable as possible. I love all things cheese, jokes included. I’ve had a pretty rough life but therapy and a good attitude have really helped me make the best of things. So welcome to my world, make yourself at home! Follow Sarah on Twitter.