Tag Archives: sharing

Food For Thought

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“Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.”
Norman Kolpas

Food is the most primitive form of comfort.”
Sheilah Graham

Today I drove Ethan down to visit his mom.  Intially I felt ackward because this is the first time that we have been to visit since receiving the letter full of accusations and paranoia that she sent to me.  But I prayed while waiting for her to come out and as time edged on, the ackwardness sidled away.

She is usually late to arrive, but it took her a full hour to come out today.  I was a tad annoyed because this adds time to the entire visiting process.  We got in the visiting area at 9:30am and she came out at 10:35am.  I have no clue as to what takes her so long.  Most inmates come right out. 

She was her usual pleasant self, making sure to include me in their conversations.  She even waved to me through the window as they processed her.  Wary, I only spoke when addressed in order to allow mother and child time together.

However, there was one thing  different about this visit.  I did not bring the usual $10 that I normally do so that we may get things from the vending machine.   I rarely eat though because most of the things in the machines don’t appeal to my taste buds so early in the morning.  It is a two-hour drive to get there so I know that Ethan is probably a little hungry by then.  Out of courtesy I always offer Eliza something as well.

The first time that we visited her last November, she looked totally shocked when I asked her if she wanted a refreshment.  She halfheartedly declined.  Later in the visit I offered her again insisting that she  at least get a drink.  She happily obliged.

Since that first time she hasn’t refused a snack.  I really don’t mind treating her but my husband has a different opinion.  He feels that I already spend enough on gas (usually $60 roundtrip) and taking the kids to lunch afterwards.  He has also stated that she probably doesn’t appreciate it and comes to expect it.  He also feels that this gives her an attitude of superiority because she has me (a former enemy) buying things for her.  He thinks, too, that Ethan should use some of his allowance to buy snacks for them.

I reminded him that she has never asked me to buy her anything because I am the one offering.  Two, for me it would be quite humbling to accept something from a person I once viewed as the enemy.  I am not getting the impression that she is being smug about it.  Finally, I don’t really care if she does feel triumphant that I am spending a small amount of money on her.  If she is indeed “using” me, the shame is on her and not me.  It is not like I am spending a fortune on her.  Besides, food helps break the ice time and again.

Plus, I bear witness to the healing power of food.  Food comforts, strengthens, and uplifts us (just visualize “The Last Supper”).  That’s why there are such terms as “comfort food” and “homestyle cooking.”   It has probably turned some foes into friends–just the act of sharing alone.  Food is MEANT to be shared with people.    Food is also an important part of our lives.  And don’t forget that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  How bitter/uneasy/depressed can you be for long when you and others are stuffing your faces with goodies?  Food allows the good times to roll.  Not to mention it feels odd not to be snacking when everyone around us is doing so. I feel good that I am able to offer something at all.  Of course, my husband felt that I was being far too philosophical about the matter.

 I can even understand why my husband would have a hard time breaking bread with Eliza.  Sometimes I do get very angry with the kind of person she is.  I even think of ways that I can hurt/best her in the fragile position that she is in.  She seems to have no problem inflicting pain.  Every chance she gets she uses it to slap us in the face and rain on our parade when we least expect or deserve it.   But somehow I know that it is not safe to fight fire with fire.  When she offends me, I can’t try to offend her in return.  I am of sound mind.  And if she suffers from the mental issues that I think she does, then she can’t help herself without treatment.   I have no excuses.  

While I do respect and empathize with my husband’s opinion, I am the one who will make the ultimate choice about how I conduct myself with her.   If I have the money to spare, I will continue  to graciously provide the funds for snacking.  I understand that she will never likely return the favor which is fine by me.  But that’s not why I do it.

The Bible is a feast of words and I must say that Romans 12:19-21 is quite a delicious sampling of the banquet we have coming:  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Amen.

Opening Up

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             I am a very private individual.  I keep most of my thoughts close to my heart.  I am hypersensitive regarding most things.  I care deeply for others.  I don’t like to work on teams, believing that I can get the job done better on my own.  I could accurately be described as a loner, preferring my own company to that of others.  It feels safer this way.  

            It is not easy for me to open myself up to others.  Yet I know it is necessary in order to fortify relationships.  I am still hesitant to tell Eliza too much about me.  I don’t want to give her any future ammunition.  I want to be okay if the tides do happen to turn. I know that it is necessary for us to communicate, however, she does not have to confide in me the way that she has been.  This shows a little growth on her part.  She could keep things strictly about Ethan and Evan.  And this used to be the way it was. 

            But in her most recent letter she wrote I really appreciate you sharing with me how Evan is feeling.  I expect him to be angry with me.  I actually expect all of my boys to be angry with me-I don’t blame them.  I mean, look where I am… I’ve made some bad choices in life and I feel I have truly learned from my mistakes. When people are at the mercy of others, they will say and do anything to get comfort.  Does she really mean what she says?  Only time will tell the story of El…

            Truthfully, I don’t know if I’m brave enough to expose my “weak” spots to her.  But yesterday I took a tiny step in that direction.  I sent her eleven poems from a collection of poetry that I am creating called  Dark Days.  One poem in particular revealed a lot about me, entitled Where I Come From.  Keep reading because I plan to write a post regarding how she and I even got on the subject of poetry.  Stay tuned… 

Life in The Village

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Over the last couple of years I have grown to realize that the no doubt clichéd African proverb it takes a village to raise a child is quite true.  I think parents in general are very territorial and protective of their offspring, much like our animal friends.  Because we grow, birth, and bond with our children, we assume that they belong to us, and only us. Sometimes we are reluctant to share our kids with others, sometimes the other parent even.  It is almost like asking a three year-old to share their favorite toy. 

Growing up I had one toy that topped all others.  I vividly remember my Cabbage Patch doll, Adah Marie.  I would comb her hair until it gleamed, change her clothes at least three times a day, and keep her impeccably clean.  I even put lotion on her chocolate-colored face.  Adah was the one gift that I never shared— for who else would treat her like I did?  She was my most prized possession.

When I became a parent, it was not much different. I didn’t want too many people holding my son, fearing that they would drop him, handle him too roughly, or pass their germs to him.  I even made an excuse when my aunt asked to keep him so I could get some much needed sleep.  I could not bear being without him for a few hours. He was my living, breathing Adah.

As he grew older I slowly began to lessen my eagle grip.  It didn’t mean that he wasn’t mine anymore.  It just meant that others could be apart of his life, too.  His circle was widening as was my perception.  I had learned to share.

I came to see that everyone played a role in his life.  I had to build trust that others would care for my son, perhaps not the way I would, but adequately enough.  There would be no way that I could prevent him being in the presence of others and possibly being influenced.  I could only hope that the majority of his encounters would be positive interactions.

  His circle grew to include people such as teachers, dentists, doctors, babysitters, and coaches to name a few.  While I can meet his educational needs through home schooling–I don’t know how to fill cavities or diagnosis health problems.  I can’t take him every where I go or teach him how to make a defensive play. But I do know that I need every single one of these people for the wellbeing of my son.

            So when I received an Easter card from Eliza thanking me for relaying a message to her from “our sons,” I was dumbfounded. It was quite a generous gesture on her part—especially considering that she is the “mama bear.”  Her words acknowledged the important role that I play in the life of her sons.  I was the stranger in the village who had finally been recognized for my contributions.