An Unexpected Lesson From A Discerning Palate
Ah, mealtime. As the stepmom of a picky eater, there used to be no greater source of stress in my day than sitting around the table as a stepfamily.
One of my guiltiest pleasures is binge-watching The Food Network, and one of my longest time passions has been cooking. In the way of amateurs, I consider myself to be a pretty dang good cook. In fact, if I hadn’t worked in restaurants and bars for a good chunk of my youth, I might have become a chef.
So, when I shuttled into the world of my husband and his son, I was in for a rude awakening when mealtimes came around… (I mean, what kind of 7-year-old doesn’t like cauliflower pizza crust?)
No matter what I made, there was always something wrong with it. Too spicy (even when there wasn’t a lick of spice), too burnt (even when it wasn’t), too salty, too sweet. Tastes funky. Bad texture.
Likewise, if you have a picky eater yourself, then you’re likely familiar with the frustration. And if you’re anything like me, then you probably take it personally when your stepchildren or kids turn their noses up at their food.
Eventually, it got to the point where I would have anxiety just stepping foot in the kitchen. Here I was, someone who used cooking as a form of meditation, and I couldn’t even cook without resentment or anxiety or annoyance.
Yes sir-ee, I was in a bad way. And it wasn’t just stressful for me, either. My husband was caught in the middle, and my stepson genuinely did not like his food. (You couldn’t force me with a gun to my head to eat a chunk of Liver and Onions, so, I mean, I get it.)
Whose Problem Is The Picky Eater, Really?
Eventually, after I just gave up cooking altogether when my stepson would come over, I finally asked my husband:
“Why does it bother me soooo much that he is a picky eater?”
My husband looked me dead in the face, and clear as a bell he replied to me:
“It’s a you problem.”
Turns out, my husband was right. It was most definitely a ME problem. Since I’m the Queen of “getting to the root,” I set off on a mission to figure out why I was allowing myself to be triggered by a small child. Thankfully, I learned a few things about myself along the way.
Waste Not, Want Not
If you’ve followed me for a while, then you’ll know that as a child, my (goddess of a) single mom raised me and my three younger sisters on a very lean income. This meant that nothing got wasted. And I mean nothing.
Above all, “not wasting food” translated to “survival” in my brain due to the environment I was raised in. (Props to my Mama for keeping the lights on. HOLLA!)
But certainly, the visceral response I’d have to my stepson’s discerning palate was similar to the response I’d have if I was a cavewoman and had a sabre-toothed tiger chasing after me.
Our brains are wired to keep us alive. Any threat to our survival creates a response. That response is designed to move us either away from danger or toward safety. (We’ve all heard Fight or Flight, no?)
So, I was triggered by my stepson’s being a picky eater because I hadn’t yet pulled up that root.
Above all, my brain still believed that wasting food was a threat to my survival.
…even though I was earning 6-figures, I was not in danger, and our stepfamily was not going to starve. (And there were, in fact, zero sabre-toothed tigers in the immediate vicinity.)
The Power Of Inter-Generational Cycles
Until we pull up the roots of the traumas and disruptive intergenerational cycles such as poverty, violence, guilt, shame, and low self-worth, then we will continue to get triggered by sh*t that isn’t deserving of a trigger.
There is absolutely, positively, no good reason that someone else’s dietary preferences should have any bearing on the way I physically, mentally, and emotionally FEEL.
A very dear mentor of mine (who has helped me to completely transform my life) once told me, “When you make other people responsible for your feelings, you will lose. Every time.”
And if you’re still staring at your phone and reading this, then undoubtedly you’re starting to realize a few things:
Firstly, that it’s your own responsibility to take ownership of the cards you were dealt. You’re not responsible for what people did to you, but you are responsible to decide how you show up in the world as a result. Victim or victorious — you decide.
Secondly, that when things on the outside of us trigger us, these triggers provide an invaluable opportunity to pull up a dead old root and plant something beautiful in its place.
Lastly, (and maybe most importantly), it’s ok for kids not to like pizza crust made of cauliflower.
Comment below with your thoughts!
When you’re ready to pull up your own dead old roots, click here to book a complementary Discovery Session with me, the first & only premium stepmom coach…