My son started trying grown up food recently, you know the kind that isn’t pureed in one of those fancy baby bullets. He loves shredded chicken, sweet potato and about every single fruit you can imagine. It’s amazing watching him discover tastes, textures and chewing for the first time; but I have to be honest, I’m kind of jealous of him. He is learning about food in a way I never did.
Food for my little person is everything that it should be. It’s both satisfying and surprising, nutritious and necessary for his development. Food doesn’t need to consume his mind because he’s never experienced a lack of it. He doesn’t know what it is like to go hungry, which by the way is how it should be for every child. He’s brand new here and the first encounters he’s had with food haven’t been restrictive. I simply can’t imagine that.
In my family of origin, we fought over food probably more than anything else. Food was both all we ever thought about and what drove some of my sibilings to desperate measures to get it. To get nutrition, we scraped for discarded food, ate rodents and stole from the outside world. Even worse, we stole from each other and some saw violence as the only way to supply what was needed most: nutrition. The one way in which we were fortunate was that the state and generous individuals provided food for us from time to time. It wasn’t consistent so that luxury backfired often by enticing us more, and reminding us of our need.
Severe hunger, unfortunately, can drive a person crazy, especially combined with parental neglect, abuse and sleep depravation. For me personally, and for most people who experience this cocktail of depravity, the ramifications of it are long-lasting, and for others even deadly. I am incredibly thankful that I do not have to scrap for food anymore, however, the effects of it still show up in my life. My body is reminded of it when I wake up in the morning some days, when I miss a meal or even when I get one, because feeling full still seems wrong. It still seems like I don’t deserve it.
Then, there are other moments when I’m reminded of the consequences of too much food, or at least the consequences I saw in the four walls of my child-home. Food meant my family, people I loved, would abuse me. We would physically fight for it and they would win. Food meant hurtful words about my image, hurtful words about what I needed to survive. It’s hard to use this food formula in life now because this is what I learned; if I needed food I would provoke violence, if I received food it was wrong even if it was “well-earned”. And by well earned, I mean sometimes when I would get it, it was because I would comply with abuse.
Fortunately, not every encounter I have with food now is this way, only because of God’s great grace. I’ve been healing and forgiving for years, and will likely continue to do so. Amazingly, one great gift I’ve received as a mother is learning about food from my son. The gift of his life has allowed me to glean new thoughts about it, and see it innocently through his eyes with no strings attached. God’s grace, isn’t it amazing? Somehow, He is still repairing what was stolen from me decades ago through the life of my own child.