Earlier this week, lifestyle and mom blogger, and my dear ‘Instagram’ friend Samantha Eason published an article on Healthline: An Open Letter to (Her) Boy on Love, Grief, and the Holidays. Sharing her father’s struggle with and tragic fall from alcoholism, it was that loss, coupled with the birth of her son Isaac, that reprioritized ‘clean living, accountability, responsibility, health, discipline, self-awareness, and quality of thought‘ in her life. Samantha’s vulnerability and the universality of her plight left me in tears; the overwhelming resonation of mothers overcoming. Of mothers manifesting our best selves in the hopes those ‘bests’ are what stick, are what grow thriving and selfless, thoughtful and good humans.
Though my father is thankfully still living, probably reading his morning paper and sipping his beloved Starbucks as I type my way through this, nearly twenty years ago- when I was eight, my brother four, and my sister just two- he was diagnosed with chronic depression, OCD, and anxiety. In and out of treatment facilities, on handfuls of medications, and battling palpable suicidal episodes, we contorted from a comfortable and thriving ‘normal’ to an engulfed and contagious bleak. Him, sucked into a hole that never quite spit him back out, us left with his fragments. Two decades later, it would be naive and perhaps detrimental to say I haven’t seen degrees of my father in myself – his wild smile, fierce and knowing eyes, his cool style embedded in my own. Lifelong students, observers, and creatives plagued by low lows, a bulimia diagnosis once hitched to my own back pocket. But unlike my father, much like Samantha, I refuse to let history repeat itself. I refuse to fall; I refuse to let my Poe watch.
A few months back I hinted at my step away from veganism – a (my) definitive and implicit step away from dissimulated, yet lingering disorder.
Transitioning from seven years of a wholly plant based diet to one supplemented with animal proteins (namely: eggs, some unpasteurized and whole milk dairy, and fatty fish) wasn’t a decision I made lightly, one I made overnight, or one that hasn’t been met by an ongoing internal boxing match. As for the why, why, why? – I wanted to. I wanted to take my emphasis off of food, I wanted to feel more ‘normal’ around my table, I wanted to live label-less, without a diet and dietary restriction defining me. As a new mama with Poe watching my every move and breath, my every bite, I want him to grow up celebrating, caring for, and nourishing his physical body, while also keeping it an afterthought. Something this transition has made more feasible in my own life.
An actuality I haven’t addressed since, five months later it wasn’t until reading Samantha’s words that mine felt wholly articulated. ‘It’s ironic. As a child, losing your parent is the most brutal thought imaginable. And now, here I am, painfully aware, that as a parent the most brutal thing would be… I can’t even say it’. Having experienced my own sort of loss – the abrupt, enduring loss of a healthy, flourishing, mindful and present parent – as a parent now myself, the most brutal thing would be.. I can’t even say it. Dear Poe – my light, the light – the human experience is imperfect, but I can only hope you find and hold tight to the magic, the eccentricities, to whimsical carelessness and passion. That you know we’ve climbed mountains (figuratively, literally) to make your world bigger, brighter, fuller. That you always feel my bone deep love for who you’re meant to be.