Declaring it publicly to boost my commitment: I have embarked upon a sugar/processed crap moratorium. I mean, I decided this over the weekend — the old “diet starts on Monday!” Jedi mind-trick that allows you to really go nuts with that final ice cream binge — so today is, by god, the First Official Day of Eating Like a Moderately Sane Person Instead of Someone Trapped Inside a Vending Machine.

During my first days of being sober, I had this mantra: whatever it takes to get through today. Then it was whatever it takes to get through this week. Then month. You can see how a person could keep going, until knocking back a bag or two of Combos first thing in the morning seems like a perfectly acceptable way to get through the decade.

The tantrumy 3-year-old part of my brain feels a great sense of unfairness about my goal of putting the brakes on the junk food. Like, what the fuck, you’re taking away something else? It feels like deprivation, as though being in a constant state of foggy cravings is doing me any good. Yes, nothing like fatigue, crappy skin, an endlessly upset stomach, and crashing mood swings to really promote that inner serenity.

Even if eating the way I have been wasn’t so blatantly bad for me, I recognize the danger in trading one escape for another. As a short-term coping mechanism, no big deal, but the longer this goes on, the longer I’m not doing the real work that will keep me in recovery.

Meaning, it’s time to learn how to sit in my shit. Experience feelings like a big girl, whether that’s anger, loneliness, boredom, depression, fear, social anxiety, self-criticism, whatever the hell, without using something to check out. Swedish Fish aren’t typically recognized as a drug of choice in support meetings, but take it from me, it’s all the same thing. Especially when you find yourself blindly mainlining about seventy at once like some candy-guzzling pelican because death by gummy is preferable to experiencing a normal human emotion.

I have switched up my diet a thousand times, because I keep coming back to this rut of compulsive eating, and I’m usually motivated to make a change because I hate the weight gain. This time, though, the stakes feel higher. It’s not about my waistline, it’s about finding better ways to cope. Because this road runs so closely to the drugs and alcohol one. Eventually, they become indistinguishable from one another.

It would be nice if you could just do something NORMALLY for once, the 3-year-old says. Yeah, me too, but it is what it is: I stopped one substance, I launched directly into another. I gave myself a month, almost to the day, and now I need to right-size myself again. Because being alive and part of the world is a package deal. You can’t throw away part of it without eventually losing sight of the whole thing.

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A follow-up to the fretting I was doing about Dylan’s homework struggles: things are better. I think the routine of it is settling into place a bit, and I think it’s been helpful that Riley finally has some daily homework as well (apparently the entire fifth grade was waiting for an IXL.com site license to get funded) so a sense of fairness seems to have returned to Dylan’s brotherly-competition universe.

The head-down battles over the math worksheets have mostly disappeared, but it’s the reading improvements I’m most excited to see. He no longer needs help with his response journal, and thanks to a newfound love for a certain set of chapter books — chapter books! Not picture books! This is a big deal! — he’s actually doing some reading on his own now, with no prompting.

Now, I honestly don’t care what books he chooses, as long as he gets some enjoyment from reading. That said, I suspect some of you may commiserate with the fact that the series that seems to have flipped some switch for him where no other did is … Magic Tree House.

There are 1,900,000 Google results for “I hate Magic Tree House.” I checked. Probably because there are a zillion of these books, so if your kid likes them there’s no end in sight, and every story goes like this:

JACK and ANNIE sneak out of their house because they have no adult supervision. The tree house starts to spin, then — say it with me, you know this phrase is permanently lodged in your brain — everything is still, absolutely still.

ANNIE: Yay let’s go!

JACK: Oh gosh I don’t know jeez wow have we considered all the various dangers?

ANNIE: I have no impulse control and am already doing the thing.

JACK: I should consult the book, so something vaguely educational can happen. Then I’ll write a sentence in my notebook in order to promote braininess as a good thing even though I am a nerd caricature down to the glasses I am forever pushing up my nerd face.

ANNIE: Wow check out this scene which is meant to be historically accurate!

JACK: I am intrigued, yet I am still a giant pussy.

ANNIE: O no some conflict is happening

JACK: Good thing I read the one part of the book that contained the relevant information to help us extract ourselves from this worrying situation. Should we also use teamwork?

ANNIE: Yay, teamwork! I love teamwork almost as much as sentence fragments!

JACK: Your enthusiasm continues to underscore what a damp towel I am. BTW according to the book the invention of the towel is commonly associated with the city of Bursa, Turkey in the 17th century.

:: fin ::

Anyway, I do not love these books but I sure love that he loves them. Also, as someone who recently paid actual U.S. dollars to watch a piece of pita bread get a rimjob from a bagel, I’m pretty sure I can’t judge anyone’s choice of entertainment.

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