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25 February 2013


My Mother-in-Law considers me very strange.

She thinks i'm weird in the way i eat.  She hears me when i tell her about my limitations but i think she doesn't quite believe me.  She doesn't SEE those limitations, so they aren't real to her.  She thinks it is odd that i love my cats.  She finds it very, very hard to believe that we are not going to adopt.  She finds it strange that we like our current lifestyle.  (She thinks Duane could and therefore should be making much more money than he does.)

She is pushing us hard on adoption right now.  When she heard that Duane's company is struggling, her response was, "Well, if he loses that job, you can both get jobs in Big Bear so you don't come down here.  That will free you to adopt."

She really doesn't know what she is wishing on us with this idea.  The frank fact is that Duane likely could not get a job in Big Bear, and most full time jobs would require him to work on premises - away from home and off the mountain.  A higher paying job generally means more hours and much more stress.  He would have to give up doing Search and Rescue, a major part of his life.  We would have to be apart for most of the week, as i couldn't be away from home for five days.  The 2 days we are away now push me to the limit.  Big Bear really doesn't have the opportunity for me to work in the same way that i do in Orange County.

She has asked me more than once, "If you adopted a child that was allergic to the cats, would you get rid of the cats?"  This question is a nonsensical one.  It has no meaning.  We are not planning to adopt.  If we did, we would choose a child that wants to be around animals.  (I've spent hours looking online, there are children who love animals.  Even so, we are not able to do this currently.)  Both the statement about Duane's job and the question about adoption indicate a real failure to understand our lives.  And, to a degree i think she doesn't value the choices we've made.

Which is fine.  Duane and i value our choices and our lives, so that is enough.

I've known for a while that she doesn't value our way of looking at food.  It rather drives me nuts that she is a fairly wealthy woman and chooses to buy/make "cheap" and quick "food."  Duane tells that this is because she had to be frugal for so long when his dad was alive but ill and she had to support the family.  She wasn't able to cook healthy, it had to be quick and cheap.

I understand that, i truly do.  I've been there myself.  We do the best that we can.  At the time, with finances and lack of understanding of nutrition, i've eaten some truly appalling things.  All i cared about was not being hungry.  That took its toll on me, however, and was part of the process to land me where i'm at.  Now that i know more, i want to nourish my body and help it to heal, and hopefully eventually, thrive.

Duane's mama now has the means to buy anything she wants.  She could choose truly healthy food.  I don't think she values good quality food, however, or knows any difference between cheap and quick and truly healthy.  She chooses to buy the cheapest cuts of meat and eggs and milk from CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations - i tend to call it "confined" rather than concentrated).  This means that the animals are treated in horrible ways and confined cruelly, and fed unspeakable things.  The results of all of this are not only cruel and inhumane conditions for the animals, but the results are not good for the people who eat them, either.  Animals are fed a lot of grain, but that is not their natural food.  It makes them grow fast (and many of us feel quite a connection to the human obesity problem where grains are recommended as a large part of human diet), but they are not healthy.  A lot of antibiotics and chemicals are used to keep the animals living until time to slaughter them.  This also stresses them.  It just is bad, all the way around.  Eggs coming from hens in confined conditions are not as nutritious as those who are allowed to forage.  I could go on and on, but the bottom line is Duane's mama and i have very, very different ways of looking at food.  She sees it as "taste good and is cheap" whereas i see it as "let's nourish and heal the body."

Okay, so we disagree.  I've largely set it up so that she isn't tempted to cook for me.  I feel badly about this, honestly, because i think cooking for others is a way she shows she cares.  I think she does care for me, but not so much as to change the way she looks at food.  I think it is okay for me to eat her food, on a rare occasion.  Sometimes having "bad/not as good/poison" food isn't going to kill me.  But i can't do it regularly twice a week or more.  I tried saying to her "Since i can't do the cooking, let me purchase the ingredients.  That is more fair, we're helping to pay for the food we eat."  She won't have it.  I buy ingredients (even meat, grass-fed), and she won't touch them.  Sigh.

However, she has never said a whole lot about the choices i make.  She makes comments here and there, and largely i ignore them.

This week, however, was different.  Duane's aunt and uncle are visiting.  They have extremely unhealthy diets.  His uncle drinks diet soda all day long.  He told me that his body doesn't tolerate water.  ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !  These days i consider regular and diet sodas equally unhealthy, but for different reasons.  That diet stuff has so many chemicals in it.  Duane and i both agree that when your body doesn't tolerate water, something is terribly, terribly wrong.  We think that the healthy response to this is, "Wow.  My body is badly out of balance.  What can i do to help my body be healthier?"  NOT,  "So water is out, load up on the soda!"

Anyway, none of this really effects us, except we were very careful not to comment.  I didn't make one comment.  Not about the soda.  Not about the bread.  Not about the HFCS-sweetened baked beans, or any of the other processed-food shortcuts.  Not about the wheat-based anything.  I didn't give my opinion about the "food-like" but nutritionally poor things they were eating.

Duane's mama was not so careful, however.  She began quietly ridiculing our choices.  They were out Tuesday night (another story altogether, as it was about the only night we had to visit), but she told me there was soup on the stove Duane could have.  When i checked it, though, it was loaded with a wheat-based pasta.  Duane has been eating gluten-free for over a year now.  She said there was also ham (CAFO) in the fridge as well as some other items.  Duane opted for some things i'd bought that day instead.  I did not direct him, he chose it.

When she came home, she was astonished that Duane wouldn't eat the soup.  "He couldn't eat it, it had pasta in it," i told her.

She told me, in her most sarcastic tone of voice, "Well, he could have picked that out."

"No, he couldn't.  When it is cooked in the soup, the gluten mixes all the way thru."  She was irritated about this and that he chose not to have ham either.

Poor Duane was sorely tempted this week.  She made "apple cuts" - one of his favorites.  It is like a double-crusted apple pie, but heavy on the crust (gluten) and made in a flat pan.  In this way it is almost more like a strudel or pastry than pie.  She was amazed, and again a bit sarcastic, when he refused them.

I think having folks around who eat the way Duane's parents eat made her more vocal about her criticisms of our choices.  However, and this will sound as if i'm being terribly critical, not one of the four (parents or aunt and uncle) are in a state that we would like to emulate.    Both the men have the very unhealthy extended gut.  Both the women are overweight as well, and each of them have had issues that require medical attention.

Every one of them has more energy than do i, however.  In that way, each of them can claim better health than i.  Sigh.

On the other hand, they are all about twenty years older than i.  If i ate like they do, twenty years from now, IF i was still alive, i would be very, very sick.  I know this without a doubt.  I'm hoping that instead, i will be much healthier then than i am now.  That is my reasoning for my choices.

Still, im a bit disappointed that Duane's mama was so critical.  I know she doesn't really understand, but i don't like her criticism.



Mali said...

I'm not surprised you don't like the criticism. It would drive me nuts. I wish there was something simple you could say - or could Duane say something to her to put a stop to it?

"...doesn't tolerate water..." What?! I'm sorry, that's just crazy!

(I've also never understood those who are addicted to coke/diet coke either - a close friend of mine at university would only drink coke, and the only vegetables she would eat were potatoes and occasionally peas. I was not surprised a few years later when she was diagnosed with diabetes. Also a young woman here recently died - the coroner attributed her death to the 10 litres of coke she drank a day!)

Kathryn said...

It's crazy, isn't it, Mali? Our world has lost any connection to real food and nature. Sad.

Kathryn said...

Oh, on the comments - i'm horrible at confrontation. BUT i did tell Duane recently that i'm not going to let all those comments go by without a reply any more. He knows me, and so he knows i freeze when criticized, so if i'm able to respond to 1 in 5 i'll be doing well. However, i'm not going to bite my tongue any more. Part of the problem is my ILs DO think they are healthy. We disagree.