We were driving to the beach for a week of vacation with my husband’s family. Our oldest two girls had left home earlier that morning with their grandparents, so the car was quiet with just my husband, our 17 month old son and our 9 week old daughter. The quiet was a nice break–no questions, no complaining, no bickering–a nice respite.
For, I don’t know, maybe the millionth time, I handed a graham cracker to my son.
Maybe this time he’ll actually put it in his mouth.
I turned back around in my seat to continue the conversation with my husband. And a few seconds later I heard it.
“Crunch. Crunch crunch crunch.”
Never before had the sound of crunching crackers made me cry. But it did that day.
You see, for months we had been trying to get Mason to pick up food, or at the very least chew something with his teeth. He refused to eat anything that wasn’t pureed and fed to him on a spoon. If we tried to put a piece of food in his mouth, he would just push it out with his tongue. And, if we placed something on the tray of his highchair, he would throw his hands up in the air and literally freak out.
And I was tired of it. Tired of pulling out the food processor for every meal to try and come up with something creative and nutritious for this little guy.
His inability and refusal to eat solid foods made me angry, sad, frustrated, and discouraged. I felt like life was so challenging because I had to work hard to get food into him.
For five months, Mason continued to eat graham crackers and would occasionally pick up a Ritz. Everything else was a no go. Then, about three weeks ago, for the first time, Mason picked up pieces of pumpkin bread, put them in his mouth, and chewed them with his teeth.
It was a glorious day!
We’ve been slowly giving him more finger foods and watching as he figures out how to get them in his mouth.
Last week, we put spaghetti on his tray and he went. to. town.
I’ve never seen a kid more excited about eating spaghetti than he was that night. He could not get it in his mouth fast enough. He kept smiling, giggling, and kicking his feet with joy.
It was then that I realized I had made his eating an issue about me. The time it took, the mental energy to think through every meal, the emotional struggle wishing he was different. Never once had I considered how he must feel.
As I watched him chow down and become a messy glob of noodles and spaghetti sauce I saw my son experience a freedom that delighted his heart.
Mason is going to experience challenges of many kinds throughout his life, eating is just one of them. And, as his mother, I’m going to walk through those challenges with him. But I don’t want to make those challenges about me. I want to look at them through the eyes of my son.
I want to push him to work hard at what’s challenging.
I want to rejoice in the little victories, that really aren’t so small for him.
I want to be sad, not because I’m tired of him struggling, but because I hurt for him.
I want to look forward to his accomplishments, not because it will make life easier for me, but because his life will be much more full as a result.
I want to love him, and each of my children, in a selfless way, exemplifying to them the selfless love of Christ.