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  • Writer's pictureCatherine C. Heywood

The Summer of Difficult Things

In our house over the past few months, we went on a journey with some hard things.

The first had to do with implementing a chore chart system that connected the boys’ allowance to completing their chores. This may seem like a small thing, but to us, it felt monumental. No. More. Nagging. Well, LESS nagging.

In particular, turning the dishes over to the boys meant that I could experiment more in the kitchen and they could do the clean up. That was very nice.

Because the second difficult thing was that I transformed what and how we ate.

When I was a little girl, I nearly died from food allergies. And by nearly died, I don't mean an epi-pen situation, I mean a hospitalized-and-given-the-last-rites situation.

My mom, in her steely determination, wouldn’t allow my symptoms to be managed the way they typically were decades ago, wouldn’t allow me to live my life drugged. Instead, she educated herself on the power of food, then transformed how she fed our family. She shopped at co-ops long before Whole Foods was a twinkle in anyone’s eye. Shopped farm-to-table and introduced me to the farmers who grew our produce, meat, and dairy.

She didn’t just make sure I survived, she made sure I was well, eliminating ALL my food allergies! And like many ungrateful kids, when I grew up, I ignored much of what she taught me.

I reasoned that I knew enough of it, practiced enough of it, to be okay. But after a year of Covid-comfort eating, I didn’t look and feel okay.

I won’t prescribe a certain diet, but I ate less frequently and focused on a higher-fat (nutrient dense fats), lower-sugars-and-simple-carbs regimen. Grass-fed-and-finished meat and dairy and wild-caught fish. Made scratch salad dressings, seasonings, and low-carb pasta. And eliminated most hydrogenated oils and processed food from our diet.

I did more food research, recipe trials, and new ingredient searches in one summer than I’ve done my whole life of cooking and baking. Endured more complaints and grimaces from my boys, which was no fun, and did more cooking and baking with my boys, which was a blessing.

And the final difficult thing was saying goodbye to my dad. I’ve already gone into that, so I won’t here.

But one thing has changed as a result of that bittersweet weekend. When I sat down after giving the eulogy, I noticed my youngest crying. Hard. He is generally more stoic and generally keeps me more at arms’ length than his older brother. We have similar personalities and routinely butt heads.

Yet when he said goodnight to me that night, he kissed me more tenderly and held me tighter than he ever had. I cherished that sweet goodnight, assuming it would eventually fade, but it hasn’t. He sits closer to me still, touches me more, confides in me more, and I’ll take every bit of it gladly. Thanks, Dad.♥️

So this was The Summer of Difficult Things. And strangely I didn’t want it to end because we are better, stronger, and closer because of it.

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