936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
My eyes weighed heavy with sleep, something I had lacked in over the past four days as our boys fought off a terrible stomach bug. They had eaten very little in days, and now I only wanted to get some calories into them. The buffet was my husband’s idea. Surely we would find something they would want to eat. I pinched a pair of plastic tongs around a blueberry muffin and placed it on one of the plates. I stepped forward to the pasta dishes and read the signs above each one. “Cheese.” “Cream” “Spicy”. None of these would do.
“Excuse me…” I caught the attention of the young man behind the buffet. “Could I possibly get some plain noodles for my boys? No butter, please.” He was kind; asked whether they want macaroni noodles, or penne. I thanked him, and we turned back to the table, balancing their plates of plain noodles and blueberry muffins. As we passed by another family enjoying their dinner, I couldn’t help but notice one woman with a bottle of organic salad dressing sitting next to her plate.
And here is where I make my confession.
Up until recently, my first thought would have been something along the lines of: “Who brings their own salad dressing to a salad bar?”
This would have been my response up until a few months ago; until I had to stand by helplessly every single day, watching my two-year-old son writhe in pain, having no idea how to comfort him. Until I began having to read labels closely, scrutinizing every word as if hunting down an enemy.
I used to be quick to judge those who were jumping on what seemed to be the newest fad diet bandwagons. It’s easy to see someone who makes a drastic change to their diet as extreme, or perhaps trying to appear somehow superior. Oh, we don’t say things out loud, most of the time. But we have our opinions.
For nearly three years I wrote about transitioning my family onto a whole food diet. With that writing came a whole lot of experimenting and research. And with that knowledge, we were able to help many people. But knowledge can bring with it an inclination to judge, label, and jump to conclusions when we see someone else doing things differently than we are. And I admit that at times I fell into that pit of criticism.
And in that, I was very, very wrong. Never has that been more apparent than in the past few months.
Within the span of three months, my two year old’s body stopped processing lactose, leaving him absolutely miserable for days on end. At the very same time, the autoimmune disease that I have lived with for over a decade began showing signs of what we always knew was possible. Having one autoimmune disease makes a person very susceptible to developing another autoimmune disease, and that is what my body began doing. The symptoms worsened rapidly, and I was finding myself quickly unable to go about my everyday activities.
Something had to give, and it was wheat. Within two days, my symptoms were completely gone.
This is how we found ourselves as “that family”. You know, the one at the pizza parlor ordering a vegan cheese pizza for their son, and a gluten free pizza for mom.
This is why I did not jump to judge the woman at the salad bar who had toted along her own dressing, because I understand now that she may have some very good reasons for making that decision, and more importantly—it is her decision to make.
I am curious what might happen if we all had a little less to say about what was in the shopping cart of the woman ahead of us in line. What if we were to shift our focus to taking care of our own family’s health, while leaving the next mother over to do the same for hers? What if we put away the labels, and began supporting each other while setting our difference in opinions aside? What if we began sharing our knowledge only when it was asked for, and only when it will build up rather than tear down?
Most importantly, what if we began to consider the struggle that goes into a Mama’s “extreme” decision? Because at first glance, we cannot see the pain in a mother’s heart as she has had to tell her son that he cannot enjoy the treats that his friend brought to school. When we are quick to label, we fail to see the hours a fellow Mama has put into dissecting ingredient lists, scouring grocery store aisles, and researching solutions and alternatives, all in the name of her child’s wellness. We cannot see the fear in her spirit when she considers what could happen if she lets down her guard, or if something slips past her little one’s lips that will hurt them. These are the things we don’t see when we jump to conclusions.
Sometimes what can appear as an extreme choice really boils down to a mother’s extreme devotion to protecting her child—and that is something we should all respect.
Food has never been more political. But what would happen if we stopped wielding our opinions as weapons, and instead began respecting the hard-made decisions of the moms who have to tell their children, “No, Honey, you can’t have that one.” Even better, what if we began considering them when it is our turn to bring snacks to an event?
I propose that it is time for a new kind of food revolution, one where we applaud each other despite our differences. A movement of encouragement, rather than competition. A movement where we can band together under our common goal of feeding our families the best way we know how to.
“The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.” Romans 14:3
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!