Henry called me on President’s Day. He never calls me. When I leave him home alone to grocery shop he has a set of rules:
- Don’t Go Outside
- Don’t Answer the Door
- Answer Me When I Call
- Don’t Jump On The Bed
He never answers, preferring to text me three days later to tell me he’s fine.
I was at work when his name and face appeared on my screen.
“Hi, Honey. Are you OK?”
There was despair in his voice in just those two words.
“I fell. I’m hurt.”
“Oh no. What happened?”
“I fell. I’m hurt. And there’s no snacks.”
“Oh no, I’m so sorry.”
Except that I’m not sorry. I’m the one who instituted the no-snacks policy. He turned 22 and his teenage-boy metabolism is slowing to adult-man rate but he’s still eating like a teenage boy. We met with his doctor who told him to lose weight. I printed up memos for the refrigerators of all three houses where he divides his time. The schedule outlines specific times for meals and one snack. Then for his science project he wouldn’t choose a topic, so I chose for him and titled it You Get A Serving Size! and he had to cut out pictures of serving sizes and we made a meme of Oprah for the heading. Yeah. I’m that mom.
“So, you fell. Are you at Dad’s house?”
“Yeah. I’m at my Dad’s.”
“Did you talk to your Dad about being hurt?”
“Yeah, I talked to my Dad. I’m hurt. And there are no snacks.”
“What hurts? Your knee, your head? Are you bleeding?”
“My tummy hurts. There are no snacks.”
“Hmm. Maybe the problem isn’t the fall, maybe it’s that you’re frustrated that there are no snacks.”
“I’m hurt and there are no snacks.”
“I’m so sorry. I love you. Do you feel better?”
I followed up with a congratulatory call to his Dad for maintaining the no-snacks policy under what was obviously intense pressure.
Giving up something that fills us is hard, even if the thing is artificially flavored and your goal is something much more fulfilling. It feels empty in your tummy. If makes every little bump hurt worse when there are no snacks. The cosmic reality in this is that there are no snacks. There are no short cuts to what we really want. There’s no way to get that true fullness we crave by shoving something, anything, into that empty space.
I’m saying this from halfway through a Lenten fast from alcohol. How can there be three more Sundays of this?! Yesterday, I toyed with the idea of lying to my Muslim husband and saying that in the Christian faith we only fast for half the time, so I could have a chardonnay now. NOW. Then I thought, that’s just me facetiming God and saying “I’m hurt and there are no snacks.” My tummy is empty and that space usually filled by a Sunday afternoon white feels uncomfortable and ill-fitting and a little boring. There is something I want that is filling. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I know that the best way to find out is to clear out room, forgo snacks, feel empty and make room for something really filling.