Our family is not obese, and we have always avoided food dyes, preservatives, artificial ingredients etc. Prior to being in the cosmetic industry, I was in the food industry which for a number of reasons prompted me to make those choices – yet my kid was born a food allergy sufferer, including the suffering from a wheat intolerance. Maybe it was because I ran in the cloud behind the mosquito trucks as a kid in Florida, or played with the pesticides my father stored in the shed for our garden and passed those chemicals from my system to my daughters. Or maybe it’s because I thought soy was healthy and supplemented breast milk with soy formula in a BPA-laden bottle. Many of us (including myself) unwittingly ate glyphosate-laced/GMO foods thinking the label “natural” was enough – organic wasn’t a thing a couple decades ago. The same is true for the use of the plastics made to help parents, like baby bottles and sippy cups. To each his own is not necessarily true if it hasn’t been revealed to the consumer that the products we choose may contain harmful chemicals and/or if toxic substances show up in our organic products. Regardless of our personal choices, we will still be exposed and I will never know why my child has this malady. Overall, I do the best I can to reduce our toxic load but it seems a losing battle. I do not choose to slather myself in toxic chemicals, pour them into my yard, etc. Those things are equally concerning. Having been in the cosmetic industry for 23 years I can tell you that personal care products are manufactured with 10,500 chemical ingredients, some known or suspected carcinogens, toxic to the reproductive system and known to disrupt the endocrine system. As far as food is concerned, the greater yield argument and the cost/benefit argument has been negated, although I’m sure both sides can produce studies supporting their argument. From my point of view, GMO advantages are marginal at best, and the downside should be alarming to farmers as well, for a number of reasons, one being that if consumers cannot tolerate what is being produced, the market will shrink. I am not necessarily anti-GMO; it’s according to how the technology is used. A GMO that tolerates round-up is not the same as a GMO containing more beta-carotene. I also acknowledge that GMO technology could potentially reduce pesticide/herbicide use. If our solutions thus far are yielding negative results in the way of health and environmental problems, we can come up with other, better solutions.
This is something I wrote while sunning at Strawberry Hot Springs in Colorado. Although leaving Florida was essential to my mental health, leaving the water seemed detrimental — Strawberry became my substitute ocean. At the springs, images of Florida always come flooding back.
The sweet and sickening smell of salt, seaweed and rotting fish,
the only air I’d take into my body for 30 years,
and until I left I didn’t know,
that the rest of the world would smell any different,
that it was the warm, moist smell of my birth,
that it was the smell of my youth,
a smell that I long for, and a smell that I loathe,
It’s the smell of grief,
the smell of loss — the greatest loss,
it’s the smell of death,
now I know.
If only the path were clear. Then again, maybe it is and I am blind, — or lazy, — or too afraid to walk the walk. I don’t think I’m stupid, but then idiots never do.
As I navigate life’s terrain — at 49 years old, with a 14 year old daughter and an 18 year old marriage — I am as confused now as I was at my daughter’s age. What’s it all about? Is it really about anything at all? And why don’t I know by now?
I’m then onto making the phone calls: teachers, coaches, class registrars, councilors, mothers, doctors, dentists, insurance agents(there’s always some claim they don’t want to pay), electricians, plumbers or whatever fix-it person is needed for whatever seems to have given up the ghost that week, calls and calls and calls, pay bills, balance the checking account and worry, catch up on Facebook; a little news (always depressing and more sensationalized fluff than news), play a word or two in scrabble (words with friends) while rationalizing that it’s okay because I’m keeping Alzheimer’s at bay, chime in on a conversation or two while either chuckling or getting annoyed, give a few ‘likes’; then hopefully get some exercise but not enough to halt my southbound ass.
I usually get a call from Sofia right about now — I need to deliver something to school that was forgotten, and around this time I realize we need groceries again, since I am trying to keep us all healthy and fast food (which is the only lunch served at school) is not an option, and since my daughter has life threatening food allergies and couldn’t eat the fast food even if it were an option; I make a list (or not) and I’m off to the various grocers to find the best deals on organic, nut-free, sesame seed-free, pineapple-free, gluten-free, gmo-free food. I’ll also try to fit in whatever other errands must be taken care of: my own personal doctor or dental appointments (now that I’m turning 49 it seems something always needs an inspection), oil changes, tire rotations, tax bills, license tags, etc., etc., until it’s time to pick up Sofia since we’re not completely sure how safe it is for her to walk home given the number of registered sex offenders per block; hell, we unknowingly moved into a house directly across from one. I then drop off her kind-of friend who’s parents have asked if I would mind (now that her X best friend and a ride home is an X), who also don’t want their kid walking home but can’t pick up because they both work; after which I take Sofia to whatever appointments she might have: dentist, orthodontist, pediatrician, allergist, dermatologist, myofunctional therapist (don’t ask); then it’s piano lessons, tennis, soccer, tumbling or whatever activity she has chosen that month — and every now and then I might squeeze her in a hair cut.
We finally get home and it’s dinner time; time to figure out another healthy yet acceptable creation, that hopefully pleases us all, but usually doesn’t. I drink wine while making dinner, eating dinner, cleaning up dinner, taking out the garbage and recycling, drink some more wine and before you know it it’s time to go to bed at some kind of reasonable hour that I may get at least 7 hrs so I’m not a complete bitch the following day, and so that I can do it all over again. Sofia, have you brushed your teeth? Are you wearing your rubber bands? Did you take your medications? Did you use the neti pot? Did you put cream on your eczema? How about your tongue exercises (Don’t ask)? It’s picture day tomorrow please tell me your soccer jersey is clean. Raf, please don’t forget to download those medical receipts to the “flexible” spending account or our account will be frozen again and Sofia has a doctor appointment tomorrow — did you take your aspirin? How about the fish oil? Did you ever get your results back from that test? No, I haven’t seen your wallet or your inhaler. Shit, I forgot to call my brother back; oh my god I missed Jonah’s birthday. Ugh, I forgot to pay…How do I get rid of my cellulite? I should never have replaced that mercury filling, now that tooth is bothering me. God I look old, my eyebrows are graying! What’s going to happen to me as I get older? — I have no career. We’re not saving any money; I need to make some money. I should’ve done better in school; why didn’t I finish a degree? God, I’m such an idiot. Oops, I need to go take my vitamins; where did I put the dental floss? How in the world am I going to wear a bathing suit this summer? Why did my parents have to die? I don’t want to get sick….
Goodnight sweet baby girl, I love you more than anything in the universe, don’t worry, you’ll make friends, it takes time, this is a tough age, but things will get better and your future is going to be awesome! I’m so proud of your grades; you’re the best daughter a mom could ever ask for — can you please clean up your room and bathroom tomorrow?… Good night babe – you’re an incredible husband; I’m so blessed to have found my soul mate. I’m sorry your work sucks and that I’m getting old and saggy and I’m not as carefree as you would like me to be (or as I would like me to be). I’m sorry that I wear flannel drawers to bed and not Victoria’s Secret lingerie. I’m sorry I’m not a career driven woman and that I’m not financially contributing. I’m sorry that I nag you about picking up your shit. But I love you so very much and I’ll try to find a way to be a better wife, I promise… Please god, keep my family healthy, safe and alive, and please let me stay that way as well. I know there is so much suffering on this planet, I’m sorry that I’m not a better functioning person that makes more of a difference. I’m sorry that despite getting exactly what I wanted, an incredible husband and daughter and the ability to be a stay-at-home mom, I get depressed and complain. I’m sorry that I drink too much wine. I’m sorry that I let my past stall me. Please don’t punish me and please know that I have love in my heart.