On Saturday I cleaned the house, took my son to a play date, went grocery shopping, took a 20 min nap, went to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, and then went to a house party with my partner. Not exactly a relaxing day off, but such is the life of a single mom. Hey, at least I got to have “adult time”. I decided to go to Costco because we were running low on several staple “buy at Costco” items. However, my son’s palette is very particular and there isn’t much food he likes (and I will buy) available there. I keep a tight budget and food is one of those places I can get a little wiggle room. A few items available at Costco that he will eat and I am willing to feed him are frosted shredded wheat, pancake mix, milk, pancake syrup…well you get the idea. And sometimes they have crescent rolls. Some things my son will eat despite the brand and others he won’t. Some things I can’t bring myself to buy like pancake syrup with high fructose corn syrup or unnatural peanut butter.
We both struggle with rigid thinking. His therapists say he is so particular about his food because he has anxiety. I always thought it was a sensory issue. Anyways, the cereal was not a good price so i didn’t get it, I kept forgetting things and by the time I got to crescent rolls on the list, we were both over it. I got home with $180 dollars worth of groceries and nothing but pancakes to make for my son. Luckily we still had a few things from prior shopping trips. Sunday night I made him “bean tacos”. I found them cold in his room around bed time. Monday morning I made him my “famous oatmeal” as he likes to call it. I found it cold in his room before we left the house.
Monday evening on the way home from jui-jitsu, he says, “Mom, did we get crescent rolls at the store?” “No, honey,” I reply, “I asked you if we should go see if they had them and you said ‘let’s just get out of here’, Remember?”. Then I added, “I saved your oatmeal from this morning that you didn’t eat.” Now, I did say this in a slightly teasing tone because one of Asher’s “anxieties” is that he won’t eat anything that’s “old”. This includes crackers or chip bags that were already open, even if I closed them and put them away the night before, food or drinks that have set out any length of time, and food that I cooked previously and put immediately away for later, then reheated. As you might imagine, this is a stressor for me (see: tight budget, single mom). However, his full bowl of oatmeal from the morning was indeed sitting in the fridge, where I had stuck it in a moment of desperate hope that he might eat it later. “That’s okay, Mom,” he replied. “Are you hungry?” I asked. There was a pause. “If I say yes, does that mean I have to eat the oatmeal?” I laughed and gave up the battle. “No hon, you don’t have to eat the oatmeal,” I said. When we got home, at 6:15, I made him popcorn for dinner. I was so tired I didn’t even cook myself anything for dinner. I ate two pieces of whole wheat toast with butter and the last two thirds of his popcorn. An hour later he said he was hungry and asked me, “What do we have that I like?” I told him, sneaking in some additional items like salted almonds and oranges. He decided on bean tacos. I said I wasn’t making those for him since he didn’t eat them last night. “Okay then, I guess I will have bean burritos,” he said. He will only eat the frozen ones and one particular brand. Luckily I still had a few left. “You can make that yourself,” I answered.
I have been going non-stop for the last twelve hours. I have already gotten up to go to the kitchen twice to get him something to eat, only to be told I don’t have anything he likes. I can no longer find the energy or motivation to get up again. And I feel like the world’s most terrible mother, because my stubborn son won’t do it either. I argue with him a bit more trying to get him to eat something. I fret. I self-blame. Then I decide that all the other things I did today, and every day, all by myself are going to have to be good enough. Like making breakfast, getting him to get dressed and leave the house, checking in with his therapist, giving him the correct dose of medication, going to the pharmacy for the 4th time this month, calling, making appointments, talking about his feelings, checking in about the day, putting in the mommy mode password 5 million times, etc. So, I suck at grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking. So, some days I just don’t have the energy to last all the way until bed time. I have to remember not to beat myself up. This is my biggest challenge on a daily basis. The televisions are off. I set my lap top aside and he collapses into my arms. “Oh,” I sigh, “That is the best feeling in the world.” And I squeeze him in my arms and give him kisses. In that moment I feel completely content as he falls asleep in my arms. But not before getting up to get a blanket, getting up to go to the bathroom, taking his pants off, kneeing me in the leg while getting comfortable, asking me to flatten my legs, and elbowing me in the side.