I'm not a student of Nietchze nor am I an Existentialist. But while I was in college, I heard the late Francis Schaeffer say, "All truth is God's truth." And whatever else he erred over in all of his philosophical wanderings, in this respect Nietchze was right: "That which does not kill me makes me stronger."
Dog is getting older. Our first born. You know the old wag, "The first one is an experiment..." Well, we're feeling our way gingerly into the pre-teen years. It makes me nervous. He asks some very hard questions. Like "why us?" Being different is starting to bother him. I knew it would happen at some point. I just didn't expect "some point" to be now. But it is. "Why do we have to be the ones who have to eat differently than everyone else?" This is tough to answer without resorting to the hackneyed (and intrinsically insensitive) chestnut about how "I used to complain that I had no shoes until I met the man with no feet." Ugh. But we did discuss how everyone who is hit with something unexpected, unpleasant, and difficult to deal with wants to know why. There are lots of possibilities of "why." Most are too long and complicated to get into when someone is having a Big Feelings moment and many don't even really matter. Many times, knowing the "why" of something doesn't make it any easier to bear.
In this case, for me, there is at least one "why" and the knowing of it makes it easier. This stuff we're going through--this journey we're on--it does make us stronger. There are so many ways that I've grown through all of this...many of which I'm only dimly beginning to sense and am awkwardly groping for ways in which to articulate them. Some I'll probably only discover in later years down the road. I'm finding that one of the ways I'm stronger is that I've become free. I'm liberated from the absolute craving for approval from others. I don't need others to agree with the decisions we've made and how we're moving through life. I'm also realizing that just enduring doesn't accomplish the same thing as embracing. I've watched people enduring the overwhelming floods of what they face and I've watched others embracing. No doubt about it. Those who embrace move through it, carrying more away with them than those who just endure or rage against it all. Since I have to go through this, I don't want to waste a drop of strength that I can possibly glean from the experience. If I'm going to have to pay the toll of walking down this road to which I've been drafted, I want as much for my money as I can acquire. I don't want to squander it on anger.
Embracing the challenges we face reminds me of a cookbook I picked up from the library recently, Grandma's Wartime Kitchen by Joanne Lamb Hayes. It's filled with recipes from a time when things were in short supply and life was about "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."
Cottage Pudding with Toffee Sauce adapted from Grandma's Wartime Kitchen by Joanne Lamb Hayes
4 (3 inch) squares or wedges day old unfrosted vanilla, spice or pound cake or pear butter muffins
1/3 cup coconut or other alternative milk cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp ghee or other oil
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350*. Arrange cake on a wire rack that fits on top of a 9-inch square baking pan. Place the pan in the oven; fill with boiling water to within 1 inch of the top of the pan. Place rack full of cake on top of pan. Cover with oiled aluminum foil or an inverted bowl. Heat cake until sauce is prepared--no longer than 10 minutes.
Combine alternative milk, maple syrup, and ghee/oil. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
To serve, place cake on individual dessert plates; divide sauce over cake pieces and serve immediately. Don't worry. It'll disappear in less time than it took to make.
While Dog and I talked, it all distilled down to the fact that our genes aren't going to change. We'll always have to eat, to some degree, out of the mainstream and we can either embrace it or rebel. Rebelling has too many thorns...more than embracing. I'm expecting that Dog may have to spend some time when he is older exploring those thorns, but that's going to be his journey.