I woke up June 1st and it hit me. Soon she’d be gone. Our time together was limited. It would never be the same. I stopped everything (as you may have noticed by the large gap between blog posts) and spent as much time with her as possible. And then it happened. College.
Okay, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but the weeks between the end of high school and the beginning of college I found myself questioning the past 18 years of parenting. Had I done all the right things, done enough, prepared her well? Would our relationship change? When the calls from college started pouring in, my questions were answered.
“The food here is just food. I’m eating, but I’m just going through the motions. There’s no love in this food.” She was full and empty at the same time. Desperate for nourishment, she walked to the grocery store in search of organic eggs. There were none. “They’re all the same size, the same color and are packaged in Styrofoam – they’re produced, not laid.” She couldn’t bring herself to buy them. Soon thereafter, she discovered the omelet bar, where she could have eggs with as many vegetables added as she wanted. But yesterday’s sign was the final straw, “No egg whites. Avian Bird Flu.” “Are they kidding? Why don’t they just say there are no real eggs?”
I couldn’t help but wonder, had my focus on clean food ruined my daughter? Would she be unable to make it in the real world? Then I realized, just the opposite is true. In the opening essay in CLEAN FOOD I conclude, “The cleaner we eat, the clearer we think, and the better we are able to embrace good health and nutrition.” Turns out, my daughter is not only clean, but she’s an educated consumer. She is clear, she is connected and she is empowered to negotiate the landscape to find and to make healthy choices. While there is barely enough room for her belongings in her tiny room, she has found a way to eat the foods that she knows work for her. She has stocked her fridge with kale, made green smoothies with bananas from the dining hall, and even spent a few hours in a borrowed kitchen making healthy treats and vegetable paninis to stock her fridge for the coming week.
My home has always overflowed with conversation around healthy food choices, whole meals and the healing power of food. Forcing my children to eat a particular way never worked. And yet, every child (like every adult) is different. I’m grateful my approach has worked with #1, and just hope it works as well with #2! If I’ve learned nothing else, it’s that the journey is never as expected. Change is inevitable, community invaluable, and our children perhaps the greatest teachers of all.
How have you taught your children about nutrition? What has worked, and what has not? If we all share, each one of us will end up with a larger tool box to draw from the next time the journey takes an unexpected turn. Until that time,
Eat Clean Live Well!