This article, entitled Why you must set and maintain firm boundaries with your children comes from Nicole Knepper, writer of Moms Who Drink and Swear © on chicagonow.com.
I love chocolate. I need it. Chocolate is my family. Specifically dark chocolate, which I know seems odd that I’d be so closely related to something dark when I am frequently asked if I’m an albino, but it’s true. Dark chocolate is a part of me.
I am dark chocolate and dark chocolate is me.
If I had to give it up, I’d sit Shiva and I’m not even Jewish. After the seven days of Shiva, I’d go straight into grief counseling. I’d probably need 10-20 sessions just to scratch the surface of my feelings for chocolate and how chocolate makes me feel.
Dark chocolate is full of minerals like potassium, copper, magnesium and iron. It has theobromine, which hardens tooth enamel. Darky C is chock full of phenylethylamine, which is the chemical that bathes your brain in ecstasy when you are falling in love.
Dark Cho-love also has anti-oxidants, which rid your body of free radicals. Now I know it sounds odd to NOT want to have something that is free, but free radicals aren’t the good kind of free. Free radicals damage your cells permanently and make you good as old and good as sick.
Because I want to be happy and stay young, I eat dark chocolate every day and I hide it away in a safe place. I’m like that grandma from the book Flowers in the Attic, hiding my chocolate family away, but I do this in order to protect my family! If I don’t have my chocolate family, I get upset. If my family sees the dark chocolate, they will eat it, and then I won’t have it, and then we will all be upset, because everyone knows that if Momma ain’t happy, nobody happy.
SO YOU CAN IMAGINE THAT A PERSON LIKE ME WOULD GET VERY UPSET WHEN SOMEONE GETS INTO MY STASH OF DARK CHOCOLATE!
I can handle it when someone barges into the bathroom, hops into my bed in the middle of the night, wipes their nose on my shirt or eats the last of the fried rice I’d been dreaming about hogging down for breakfast, but I get super upset when my stash of Dark Wonderful gets discovered and devoured. If I go looking for my stuff and it’s not there, it really doesn’t matter how many regular infusions of the good stuff I’ve had.
I GET MAD!
So, a week ago when I got busted shoveling a fistful of dark chocolate chips in my mouth by my chocolate loving son and he started squealing about how delicious it looked and asked if he could have some, and where did I find it, etc., etc., I found myself in a difficult position. This was a serious parenting moment!
I was hesitant to answer him. I had thought it through, but I didn’t want to talk about it. I had long ago given myself permission to have something secret for myself and felt good about setting the limit. Some boundaries are necessary for parental sanity!
I should have been more careful!
I was even more hesitant to share the chocolate with him. This would be setting a precedent. Did I really want to do that? I mean how much does a woman have to sacrifice for motherhood? I’d gladly cough up a kidney for the kid, but my precious dark chocolate?
I WOULD NOT SHARE IT! Good parents establish firm boundaries. Sharing my stash is a hard limit. No fifty shades about it. Being a mom doesn’t mean being a martyr. It’s okay for me to have my own stuff, my own space, and most of all, my own bag of decadent dark chocolate that is just for me!
I told him to buzz off and go get his own candy. Didn’t “Santa” stuff his sock with goodies?
“Mom, come on!” he begged, sticking out his lower lip.
“Get lost sucka!” I replied, shoving another fistful into my face.
He skulked away, peeking over his shoulder at me and giving the lower lip trick one more shot. It took two seconds for me to feel like a steaming pile of selfish goo. Joan Crawford tearing her kid out of bed because of the wire hangers had nothing on me, at least that’s where my thoughts were headed with my cheeks full of chocolate as my boy’s shrugged his shoulders and turned away.
I called him over and shared. God help me, I gave in! It was a moment of weakness that I regret and not because I shared my chocolate “family” with my biological family, but because this sharing had consequences I could never have predicted.
Days later, I was home for the fourth day in a row with my sick daughter, who doesn’t do sick well and by not doing sick well, I mean that she is the worst patient in the history of patients. She is miserable. Barging into the bathroom while I’m in there? Check. Crawling into bed (and sneezing directly into my mouth)? Check. Wiping her snot on my shirt (and pants and face)? Check. Eating all the mint chocolate chip gelato straight out of the container, contaminating it with her germy spores or whatever she has so that nobody else can have any? Check!
I’m not feeling so hot myself, and I deserve a little something just for me. I knew exactly what kind of medicine would get me right - my dark chocolate-wonderful chunks of joy! I was worried though. Would she want some? How could I deny her little sickness the benefits of dark chocolate? I had shared with the boy, so I might as well share with the girl. Especially since she hasn’t wanted to be more than a few inches from me for the past few days.
THEN, I FOUND MY BAG OF DARK CHOCOLATE CHIPS. TWO TINY CHIPS LEFT IN THE BOTTOM. WHY DID HE EVEN BOTHER LEAVING THESE TWO?
This is why I establish and maintain boundaries with my kiddos.
This is why I hide my stash (and a bunch of other stuff I don’t want their grubby mitts on).
This is why I will never again allow myself to be sucked into the vortex of guilt when it comes to not sharing MY chocolate.
This is why from now on, I am keeping MY precious stash under lock and key until the kids move out and maybe even after, because they will probably bring cute kids of their own who will inevitably be so cute that I can’t resist them. I can’t believe I’m already protecting myself from my own, not-yet-in-existence grandchildren.
Thank God I have an appointment with my therapist today. Brainstorming new hiding places for my stash will be the first item on the agenda. We can transition into guilt from there and on the way home; I’m getting dark chocolate and a padlock.
P.S. Buy my BOOK. Buy it. I need the money for therapy and dark chocolate. Buy it. Seriously.