Life is often a winding path in the fog. If there are ten different ways to get there, I'm liable to choose the longest, the bumpiest, the one most fraught with turbulence and character-building along the way.
After almost two years blogging, today I received my first hate comments.
I was advised having such a brand would take some special care, but that there were ways around it. It was catchy. It worked for Seinfeld. When my son was born and I had teenaged daughters in the house, Seinfeld was still a part of our social landscape. I have to wonder now if social media would have put a stop to the running SoupNazi skit from it's first airing. Instead, it became a part of nearly everyday language in our house, and in many houses across America.
I had teenagers making PB&Js, macaroni and cheese, frozen pizzas, all while I was trying to navigate life with a newborn. The puzzle of figuring out what made him uncomfortable, difficult to please, aka, "high needs," combined with the risk of cross-contamination when I was still learning and trying to catch my bearings did make me a GlutenNaziMom.
Seinfeld, however, I am not.
My son took six years to get here. I believe that was because of food allergies. My husband had colitis bordering on Crohn's Disease, I had PCOS and endometriosis and wicked seasonal allergies. There are reasons our reproductive systems shut down first. And yes, I believe our food system has a lot to do with why infertility is still rising meteorically. So I was. I was a GlutenNaziMom. Crazed in my efforts to try to get some damn sleep, more than a 20-30 minute catnap at a stretch out of my newborn, which was barely long enough to take a real shower with hair washing and leg shaving and the whole zen peace and solitude thing.
It was a name my teenagers gave me. It was our effort to find humor in a difficult situation. It was an effort to laugh at life even when my feelings were hurt. Even when I had to stand and rock a thirteen-month-old for hours in the middle of the night because otherwise he was screaming, I could only assume, in pain because I'd inadvertently eaten something wrong, possibly the size of a crumb. It was the way our family, and a whole lot of families that deal with one "food-allergic" kid in the house, try to get through it all from one day to the next.
It was about vigilance in order to survive our stressful days. Writing about our struggles and trying to help others was my way of eeking some good out of an often difficult situation. Would I have traded my son, who took six years to be, for any of it? Of course not. But that didn't change the fact that it was a roller coaster more often than not.
When we know better, we do better.
In mid-2013, I became associated with a remarkable group of midlife women bloggers, several of whom have heritage deeply entwined in and forever affected by Jewish history. Were any of these remarkable, insightful, supportive women people I wanted to hurt in any way? Is anti-semitism something I want to contribute to in any way? My God, no.
My friend Sharon Greenthal, founding co-editor of the site, Midlife Boulevard, wrote a post on her blog, Empty House Full Mind, which gave me pause (as did the Sunday Review piece which inspired her post, "The Banality of Robbing the Jews"). My own piece and the frustration and fear I expressed back when school began also gave me pause. I felt ensconced in a ten-year-old (47-year-old?) defeatist attitude. I don't want to be banal about or laugh at something so painful for millions of people, and I don't want to rob anyone of their things, their dignity, or simply their otherwise peaceful day. Though I don't think the commenter is someone familiar with peace.
And I was tired.
And my son is ten. He often chooses and prepares food for himself these days. Everyday he shows me that he's becoming more and more his own man. And what am I discovering? That remarkably, my son embraces an attitude of, "that's gluten free? You mean I can try that," versus, "Whoa-is-me, I can't eat anything!"
The truth is, because our grocery cart and thus our crisper drawers are always full of good things, because the meals we prepare at home are chock full of items from the produce aisle and contain far fewer boxed and prepared processed foods than many typical American ten-year-olds might encounter on a regular basis, my son recognizes that the world is full of an abundance of foods he can eat--Variety and Vegetables. I did that. My grandfather, who lived to be 100, and my mother did that. I did that for my daughter even when I was a single mom. It's a legacy my family has passed down which does something pretty magical: It keeps us well.
That's the gold. That's what is unique and special about my family and how we approach the fact that we happen, now that my daughters are grown women in charge of their own households, to be a gluten-free one. And I can embrace the positive. I can forgive myself for my prior process of scarcity, blame, fear, to embrace a new philosophy of #MOREin2014.
The truth is, crunchy and militant isn't for everyone. We all have our own struggles and stresses and we have to choose the battles that make sense for our families. If more of us just do a little better, become a little more aware, it has the power to be far more impactful than a handful of crunchy people waving signs around.
And I'd much rather be a part of a positive movement than cause someone to viscerally recall such a negative, hurtful, devastating moment in the collective history of our humanity.
A year ago, I didn't have a clue what I would do if I weren't defined by GlutenNaziMom. If I weren't locked in the baggage of life's difficult moments, what could I do? What could I be? It's taken me this year to process. With some pretty intense coaching from Nancy Kaye, of Define Your Destiny, and the best piece of advice she gave me--CLAIM YOUR WORTH! There is NO REASON on Earth You Don't Deserve Success and Happiness--it took me all of 2013 to grow and embrace all that my life is, versus all that's maybe a wee bit difficult about it. And to roll with the punches, to keep on keepin' on, even in the face of nastiness.
I thank the commenter who provided the impetus I needed to take the step I was having a hard time committing to—I’ve taken down the site.
I'm a work in progress. When we know better, we do better. I'm still here. And I surrender.
Letting go of scarcity to embrace my grandfather's and my brilliant and beautiful son's attitude of abundance feels pretty damn great. And I'm just a little proud of my part in getting him, getting us, there.
NOTE: This post was written (meh, a couple days late to the party, albeit a very timely topic) as part of a #MidlifeBlvd bloghop. One thing I know about these ladies? There will be a plethora of hugely valuable best advice and information they ever received. I hope you'll read through some of the other posts.