Monday, May 16, 2011

Tari's Questions

Over the past several weeks, Tarikwa has taken to presenting me with questions. Not her usual peppering of sweet, thoughtful, helpful inquiries, or even those of the repetetive, insistent variety (for which she has a particular knack). These are new. These questions, bald as they are, seem oddly rhetorical -- by that I mean conversationally strategic, designed to engage me in adultish back-and-forth that her (now 3-year-old!) toddler mind must somehow crave. (I remember slipping into my parents' room one night with just such an agenda, determined to have a conversation of the ilk I imagined them having together and with other grown-ups. When they asked what, specifically, I wanted to talk about, all I could come up with was one word......"Squirrels." I'm not sure why). Tari is infinitely more creative than I was at her age. She asks, "What are hands for?" and "What is a mouth for?" or "Why is pizza?" Normally, I slip her a portion of the "honest and enough" brand that has carried me through some awkward parenting moments (and ushered me into others!). Hands are for playing holding and patting. Mouths are for talking and tasting. Pizza is.....dinner? Two nights ago, she caught me dozing and splashed the frigid bucket full of this one in my face: "Mama, why do you eat?" Honest. Enough. My reasonable truths -- nutrition, enjoyment, subsistence -- seemed altogether dishonest and insufficient. I don't eat for those reasons. I did once (maybe, though I can't remember when), but I don't.

How should I answer my little one, though? The answers came, fast and hard, but none of them utterable. "Mama eats because she's scared, honey." "Because I'm afraid of getting sucked under by the insensible tow of this life at home and need to be reminded that I still have volition." "Because I need a secret to be in charge of." "There's some chemical endorphine explanation that keeps me coming back for more....in a word: self medication." "Because if I eat and eat then the offending food will be out of my house and will no longer exercise control over my every thought by its very presence." (And you should see the insatiability of my efforts to this end! I astonish myself. My son has a friend whose allergies to gluten and dairy make snack selection a chore. When he wanted to invite his friend to a birthday party, Josiah said: "Tyson can't eat glutton," yep. He said glutton instead of gluten. "So we have to buy special food. I have seen brownie mix at the store that said Glutton Free Brownies on the box, so maybe we could buy those!" Dear sweet Josiah, if only global innovation and enterprise could yield a glutton free brownie. But.....alas.....) "Revenge." (Now I'm back to the answers that common sense forbids me from offering to my three year old, but her wide eyes compel me to face.) "I find self-destruction more accessible than self-discipline." "Because I am unlovely and, thus (love this insidious illogical lie?) unworthy of love."

Honest?

Enough?

I remember being ten and writing out this phrase on a note card, "Your body is God's temple, keep it thin," and pasting copies of that note card at the foot of my bed and on my vanity (nice) mirror. I can't remember a time when I didn't exchange that truth for a lie.

And now, my beautiful daughters.....one innocent and one increasinly desparate.....ask, "Mama, why do you eat?" And I have to face the answers or face the consequences.

Honest.

Enough.

6 comments:

jules said...

"Because I need a secret to be in charge of."

Thank you for posting this blog, Amy! I needed to read it. I don't have anything at all to add (you said it best) except just a nodding of the head. How many times in the last year have I wondered when I started believing the lie(s)? Eight? Nine? Fourteen? And when does it stop?


Anyway, this was brave. You are my hero.

Sherry said...

Yes, food is a four-letter word. I can so relate. And don't even get me started on the other reasons food is a four-letter word... allergies. We are overdue for a rendezvous :)

konjochild said...

Dearest Amy! How sorry I am that you are struggling with this. I so want to find the right words to say to you, but that is difficult in this medium with only a sliver of the story. Mostly I want to say be kind to yourself – you deserve such kindness. The woman I know is beautiful, sweet, funny, smart, and so very full of life. And she is a warm and thoughtful mama. Sending you hugs.

konjochild said...

Dearest Amy! How sorry I am that you are struggling with this. I so want to find the right words to say to you, but that is difficult in this medium with only a sliver of the story. Mostly I want to say be kind to yourself – you deserve such kindness. The woman I know is beautiful, sweet, funny, smart, and so very full of life. And she is a warm and thoughtful mama. Sending you hugs.

Valerie said...

wow really powerful Amy... thanks for sharing, your honesty is compelling and freeing. Love you-

Yes to the return of THE Amy Linnemann to the blog world!

Leah said...

Love you, Amy, even from afar. I think you anwered a few questions I didn't even know I had. ("Ohhh, so that's why I do that!!!"...)
Asking the right questions puts you so far ahead of the game; you are the right momma to be raising girls. Praise God you will never let them tape up toxicity like that attached to Scripture. Hugs to you.