You might think the mere act of carrying Dylan in my belly for 37 long, bloated weeks would make me uniquely qualified to to help him overcome his aversion to food.
It doesn’t. In fact, it appears that, as his Mama, I am unequivocally the least qualified candidate for the job. As far as food goes, Dylan and I are like oil and water, or gas and a match. I dread helping him with homework when he’s older, and if I ever have to homeschool him (which, by the way, would only ever happen at gunpoint), I’m certain it will end in tragedy.
So, what’s a Mama to do? Outsource. You can outsource almost anything related to parenting these days. The most obvious example of outsourcing is childcare, but a brief Internet search reveals a plethora of professional services available to parents, including:
Thumb sucking termination
Baby shower, babymoon, and birthday party planning
Please and thank you coaching
Wardrobe dispute consulting (my personal favorite!)
Birds and bees (sex) talking
There isn’t much we have to do anymore if we don’t want to (and if we have the resources to pay for it). Regardless of socio-economic status, though, there are Martyr Mamas like me who wouldn’t want to miss out on any of these amazing, invaluable, and/or insanity-inducing parenting moments…except for lice removal. If lice enters my house, I’ll pay any amount of money to have someone else clean the mess, and those people better bring a big ‘ol jug of wine with the rest of their supplies.
As a Martyr Mama, I want to be solely responsible for teaching my boys everything they need to know to be happy, healthy and successful in life. I want to fix all of their problems and prevent trouble from ever entering their personal space. I want to prepare them for healthy relationships, teach them the difference between right and wrong, encourage them to love themselves, and help them understand what’s truly important in life – love, health and happiness (and their Mama). I’m not delusional (well, maybe a little bit). I know I can’t do it all by myself. I just wish I could.
Last spring, when I was in the beginning stages of diagnosing Dylan’s sensory issues, I realized I needed a level of expertise that I couldn’t provide no matter how hard I tried (and boy did I try). Early on, Mike and I met with a child therapist. The “Feelings Doctor,” as Dylan came to know her, was a great resource for us, and Dylan liked her a lot (especially the toys in her office). A lot has happened since then, including finding an occupational therapist whom has literally transformed Dylan from the inside out. The only mountain we’ve been unable to move – yet – is food.
If you’ve read about it, heard about it, or seen it on television, I’ve tried it. I’ve made games and charts, offered rewards, played with the shape and presentation of food, planned rainbow menus and done a dozen other things to make food fun. Nothing has worked. About six weeks ago, I had a panic attack (again) about Dylan’s food rules, and I decided to bring the Feelings Doctor back to the table.
With the Feelings Doctor’s help, we’ve set up a green light, yellow light, red light food labeling system and have hosted weekly picnics at her office with a variety of green, yellow and red light foods to try. We haven’t had much success yet, but she’s making more progress than I’ve been able to make at home. The truth is, sometimes you need another cook, or someone other than Mama, in the kitchen.
Of course, I want to be the one who does It. I want to be the one who gets Dylan to take that first bite of chicken, mashed potatoes, pizza, or spaghetti. The one who teaches him that eating protein and vegetables will make him healthy, strong and fast on the soccer field. The one who reassures him that trying new food won’t make the world crumble around him; rather, that it will open up new experiences and adventures, and expose him to new people, cultures, and traditions. The one who teaches him that food is one of life’s greatest joys.
I’m a (Martyr) Mama. I can’t change that, and I can’t help but selfishly want to be at least partially responsible for all of the wonder Dylan experiences in his life and the greatness he achieves along the way. But I’ve also learned that sometimes it’s best to step back and let someone else do the pushing (or the delousing, thank you very much). That way, I’m free to watch in awe and when he finally decides to leap, or, in this case, eat.