It was brutal.
Rudeness prevailed. Tempers constantly flared. Desperation creeped in. Snippy comments - devoid of even sarcasm, which I can handle - were the norm. Off on my own, shopping with my bestie, I was fine. But in my own home? A ticking time bomb threatened to blow us all to smithereens.
As I stated in my last post, we had a grueling Friday afternoon ahead of us. And I completely underestimated the amount of prep time it would take me to get some chili in the crock pot for dinner that night, bake a frittata for the weekend, assemble an appetizer for Saturday night, then shower, primp and coif for our two hour ride to the funeral home in the northwest suburbs. I apologize for no Aperitif Friday blog post with recipes. I simply ran out of time. I actually looked forward to relaxing and chatting in the car with Mr. Musky after a busy day, before our house guests arrived that night.
But there was no chatting. He was tired and unusually silent. I drove; he either slept or played navigator to help us get around traffic pileups. It all felt very sterile and awkward - not at all like us.
I knew that mood swings were part of the withdrawals from sugar and processed food, but didn't fully understand and appreciate the extent to which it would affect us all. I was so distraught over it, that my poor friend Michele got an earful all day long on Saturday while we shopped and watched her daughter perform at a gymnastics clinic in Northwest Indiana. It was all I could talk about. I fretted over the kids, who were so unhappy that I feared true resentment started worming its way into their psyches. And I definitely don't want them to have an unhealthy relationship with food, or to harbor lasting resentment toward me for forcing them to try something that they truly didn't want to do. They are faced with way more pressures than me or their dad: Friends taunting them with sweets and carb-laden snacks at lunch. Drive thru excursions at McDonalds with friends, where everyone in the car is munching on hot, crispy french fries and juicy cheeseburgers while slurping sweet, sugary Coke. My wise friend patiently listed to me gripe and gently suggested that I give them the option to quit. She reminded me that I've given them all the information, they understand why we're doing this and the advantages we're working toward, and that maybe they should be empowered to make their own decision to continue. My immediate reaction to her suggestion was, "No flippin' way!" But I knew she was right.
After dropping Jake off at a birthday party Saturday night, I received a text from him.
"U'VE GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!"
I immediately backtracked to the conversation I had with the mom on her doorstep. I couldn't think of a thing I did to embarrass him. He knows we must meet the parents - that is non-negotiable. But I promised not to linger too long, talk about his belly roll trick, squeeze his cheeks and kiss his lips, yada yada. I thought I respected all the mom-meeting rules. So I replied. "What?"
Ugh. I really felt bad for him. Of the four of us he likes sweets the most, and this had to be his hardest test yet. I was honestly ready to allow the kids to cave after my conversation with Michele earlier that day. But I wanted to have a family discussion, lay out all the cards and give them some final information and encouragement to continue. My plan was to do that Sunday night. So in the heat of the texting moment, I opted for encouragement: "That's rough. Do your best to fight the craving / temptation. You can do it!"
He immediately replied with a funny. "Aromatherapy helps."
At first I didn't get it. But then a vision of my witty boy, flaring his nostrils and sniffing everything sweet while acting cool and nonchalant, made me break down in fits of giggles. When I picked him up from the party, I asked him how it went.
"I made it. I didn't break down and eat sweets, or the piping hot cheesy pizza. I asked for an apple. Now they're calling me Apple Boy." He said it all amusingly with a twinkle in his eye. He was still in, at least for another day. Whew.
Things weren't so good back at the ol' homestead though. Tempers and snide remarks continued to escalate thanks to circumstances beyond anyone's control (this is where I'm not going into a ton of details - but things were rough). The issues that my beloved dealt with while I was out that day would have ticked him off even if there were three cocktails in his immediate future. But there weren't. So I knew he was coiled like a viper, ready to strike. I texted Kahley on our way home from Indiana earlier that day to see what I was getting into. "On a scale from 1-10, where's your dad's frustration level?"
"9.7. He's pissed, yo."
...sidebar...I don't normally let my kids get away with swearing. But that was the least of my worries, and it did make me laugh. Which was one thousand percent necessary at that moment. She followed that up with another text.
"Maybe you should let him cheat the no alcohol rule."
The unforeseen circumstances forced us to have a later than usual dinner, so boyfriend ignored hug requests and schlumped off to cook dinner in the dark by himself. The tension was so thick in our house, I think my friend and her daughter decided to get the hell outta Dodge early on Sunday, just so they could freely talk without eggshells underfoot. My annoyance reached new levels, so much so that by Sunday I employed a fighting tactic I learned from my mother.
The Silent Treatment. That woman could give the cold shoulder like none other, not speaking to my father for a good week. Once she lasted two! I learned from the master.
But I'm not very good at it.
At dinner, I announced to everyone that we made it over the worst part, and that things should start to get better. I told the kids that I was proud of them for fighting the worst of the temptations. But I could sense the growing level of frustration from everyone, and if they wanted to bow out, I wouldn't judge. Even though I was determined to continue, I gave permission for everyone else to quit.
"Even me?" Mr. Musky replied with astonishment.
"Yes. Even you."
"I'm still in." Hurrah. One ally remained.
The kids mumbled something about thinking about it. They were tired...so tired they just wanted to nap. They explained that it was really, really hard - much harder than they anticipated. The kids at school offered no encouragement at all. I got the sense that outside of our house, they really were stranded on an island with no rescue boat in sight and had to dig deep to stay committed. With slumped shoulders, they shuffled off to do homework.
I felt defeated. Exhausted from playing the dastardly Silent Game, I confronted Mr. Musky as we cleaned up the dinner dishes. "Is there a particular reason why you've been so rude all weekend?"
He mumbled, "Kill All of The Things."
"What?" I demanded.
"I didn't research this Whole30 thing enough. So last night I read up on it. And came across a post on their website. On days four and five, you want to Kill All of the Things. That's exactly how I felt over the weekend. I was pissed off, at everyone and at everything. I just wish I knew what to expect. But now I do, thanks to that article. I think we're over the worst, and there's no way I'm quitting now. I want to see it all play out."
I felt rotten. I specifically did not share ALL the details of my research with my family because I didn't want to burden them with too much information. My goal was to get them to commit, and I felt guilty for withholding information to get them to join me. So I called the kids back downstairs, and I tearfully apologized to them all for not being 100% honest. I apologized to my husband for playing the quiet game, and for thinking dreadful thoughts about him all weekend. I explained that I originally had good intentions, but it wasn't fair for me to manipulate them into joining me. Mr. Musky read the entire article out loud, so the kids could have more information on what to expect over the coming days and weeks. We finally, finally started to laugh again. He talked about how he dreamt of the Glock under our bed and the shotgun at the cabin. I honestly discussed what I hoped each person would get out of the 30 day experiment. He reminded the kids that we cook one dinner in this house - not multiple dinners - so they might as well continue. We talked about what was most difficult for each of them - for Kahley it's after school snacks and for Jake it's breakfasts - and I promised to work to provide more options so they can stay on the plan with us. Four days later, I'm happy to report that we are all still careening forward on the Whole30 train.
I cannot underestimate the power of a good friend through all of this. Michele and her quirky, sweet daughter kept me sane last weekend. At one point, Megan asked if Miller was on the Whole30, or could he have a bite of her leftover English Muffin?
And Michele, my little wild child girlfriend, I'm sorry it was "all about me" last weekend, which is not fair to you. Every girl should have a friend like you. I love that you are strong willed, have opinions, deep conviction and can still show compassion. I love that you challenge me to be a better me, and that you listen and throw me a rope when I'm flailing in the deep end of the pool. I'm lucky to have you...and thanks for not kicking me to the curb after what was supposed to be a friendly visit.
Please come back when we are not out to Kill All of The Things.