About a week ago, I went to Meijer for an informative, social event. This is never something I thought I would enjoy: a nutritionist’s tour of the grocery store. In fact, grocery shopping is by far my least favorite duty of mine these days. But my continued responsibility to feed my family well has inspired me to keep learning about the food industry and how to best nourish the people I love. It’s one of those “inconvenient truths”: the more you know about food these days, the harder you have to work to eat healthy. The tour consisted of a small group of people piling our winter coats in a grocery cart, following the adorable Jill Tanis from section to section, getting introduced to Ezekiel bread in the frozen section and breaking off pieces of “dinosaur” kale, highly recommended for sautees. I would recommend the tour to anyone, regardless of where you are on your culinary journey (or maybe you haven’t even started yet). But what I loved most about the tour was Jill’s language choice regarding one little word that had such huge implications for me. She talked a great deal about the idea of life as a continuum.
Continuum. What a beautiful replacement for the overused word “journey”, as it implies moving forward, growing, evolving into something better.
Applying this to her tour, she referred to certain advice as more “advanced” depending on where each person was on the continuum of understanding food. Advice in general falls differently on people, depending on their prior knowledge and experience. The point she was making was that it’s okay to be anywhere on the food continuum, as long as you are aware that forward motion toward better understanding–and, responsively, better health–is your goal.
I realized, of course, the my relationship with cooking and my role as “feeder” is certainly not the only place I am somewhere on a continuum. I can’t even tell you where I am on my parenting continuum because even though so much progress has been made with our little Jackson, I’m sure I’ve barely taken steps in comparison to the whole experience of being his mother. And praise God for that. But, yet again, God provided advice and tools for me this week to keep me moving…forward…in becoming a better parent to my little boy. My dear friend Karen Kinne suggested a book to me in order to help with my continued parenting struggles:
There’s nothing wrong with Jack. In fact, he’s pretty awesome. But he is, indeed, difficult. And after 3 days and 100 pages into these pages of expertise, I’m realizing that understanding his temperament and implementing Mr. Turecki’s strategies for difficult children, my house just might move a little (or a lot) further down the continuum of becoming a balanced, healthy family. The book explains why the primary caretaker (that would be me) is the one with the greatest struggles with a difficult child. It explains that “the environment–and your behavior as a parent–can influence temperament and interplay with it, but it is not the cause of temperamental characteristics.” I’m just about to dive into the practical applications he offers which will hopefully provoke more positive change in our home, but even the purchase of this book–when Jack is 3 1/2–really demonstrates to me that the idea of being on a continuum really is the best illustration for personal growth.
Close friends of mine have watched intentional progress take place around here these last few months and years. But we haven’t “arrived”, and probably never will considering how much change takes place each day, month, and year with raising children. But, I can say that I’m so grateful that Josh and I are together on a continuum, linked arm and arm, trying to create the healthiest culture for our home life. We’re considering BIG questions these days:
Where should Jack go to school? Should I homeschool? What’s the point of education?
When will we get our Masters degrees? And why? And where??
What ingredients are really in our food? Should this change? (which inevitably leads to the questions: WHAT is wrong with the food industry????)
How can we be better neighbors? Friends? Partners to our church?
How can we best honor our family today, in the bumps and grinds of daily living?
Admittedly, we’re not chewing on each of these questions nightly. Our conversations would become overwhelming stress sessions. But, to each of these questions, we can say we deeply care about these issues and are committed to moving along our continuum together. And where we are is just fine if we just…keep…growing.
Thankfully, God has provided us with each other, a strong family of three (almost four). And I couldn’t think of two boys I’d rather be alongside on my continuum.
Josh and Jack, you are both my Valentines. The loves of my life. Thanks for letting me grow, and for growing with me.