On a recent Saturday, I called the girls into my room to spend a lazy morning snuggling in my bed, watching a movie.
"What are we going to watch?" they asked, as they clambered up, racing to get to their favorite spot.
Carys voted for the long version of Pride and Prejudice (I count this as one of my mothering triumphs). Brontë and Chloë begged for Never Say Never, and though I vetoed it, it was only because I already had my own ulterior motives for the morning, and not because I'm not a Belieber (I mean, why fight it?).
I tucked the girls in around me and queued up Forks Over Knives on Netflix streaming. The one sentence summary of this documentary (and I'm in no way doing it justice) is that it promotes a plant-based, whole foods (read: vegan) diet in response to the onslaught of diseases and ailments caused by our mass consumption of processed foods and animal products. My mom and dad had been raving about it and had abruptly gone vegan after watching it (though Mom hates the term and won't use it), so I was curious and thought I could turn it into a health lesson for the girls, if nothing else. In truth, I didn't expect them to watch the whole thing.
Five minutes went by, then ten. They stuck with it. I was impressed, but still expected them to grow bored, give up, and run off to play at any moment.
Fifteen minutes in, I was already understanding why my parents were so enthusiastic about excluding animal proteins from their diet when Brontë said, "I'm getting a bad feeling about this..."
I chuckled. "What do you mean?" I asked, assuming she was referring to the inevitable disappearance of Chicken McNuggets from her life.
"I don't want to get diabetes and I probably already have it!" she cried, with a shaky edge to her voice.
Geez. Where do they get such melodrama from?
I assured her that no, she probably does not have diabetes, but yes, it is good to think about what we eat and we probably do eat too much junk and that's why we are reconsidering how we approach food.
By the time I finished watching Forks Over Knives, I was ready to jump on the vegan bandwagon, but I know myself and I'm not exactly the queen of consistency. I'm also squeamish about wasting food, so though I might make a decision not to eat any more meat, I'm not going to go downstairs and throw away a freezer-full of it. We were going to have to use the phase-out approach: As we use up what we have in the house, we will replace it with vegan selections. With this in mind, we polished off our bacon and eggs for dinner that night, though I must say, none of us were too enthusiastic about it after FoK.
The kids whimpered. "We don't want to eat it. It's going to give us cancer."
Sigh. This is backfiring on me. I want them to think negatively about bacon and eggs next week, when I feed them tofu scramble, not today, when I'm trying to be thrifty.
After they finally choked it down, they ran off to play; but only a few minutes later, Chloë was back.
"Mommy, my chest hurts."
Now, earlier--and I'm not making this up--she had been trying to do push ups with Anthony, the kind where you come up and clap your hands underneath you. I reminded her of this little fact and assured her that her chest probably hurt due to her attempt at being G.I. Jane.
"No, it was the bacon!" She started to wail now: "I HAVE HEART DISEASE!"
I turned to Anthony for help, but he gave me a look that said "You made this crazy, now deal with it." So, I assured my daughter that 7 year olds don't usually have heart disease, then called my mother to talk about the movie and laugh at what hypochondriacs my children are.
Cut to 24 hours later and I'm calling my mother again.
Now, let me just pause here to say I'm not a big fan of the TMI blog post, but this one is pretty mild, so bear with me.
It was the next night (the night after heart-disease night) and I was getting the girls ready for bed. I went to the bathroom and I noticed I was peeing blood. For whatever reason, I shrugged it off, but when I went to the bathroom again a little later and saw the same thing, I had one moment of sanity that reasoned "urinary tract infection" and then the crazy took over and started arguing that I didn't have any other symptoms of a UTI, so it probably wasn't one.
What if I have...?
That's why (fill in the blank) didn't work out...because I'm probably going to die!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that nothing scary health-wise ever happens during a doctor's office hours, so what else could I do but call my mother?
I rattled off my list of fears to which she replied "Oh, good GRIEF, Renee!" She calmly told me to just call the doctor in the morning and offered to watch the girls while I went in for an appointment. "In the meantime," she suggested, "why don't you Google 'blood in urine'?"
"Oh, I don't know...I don't want to be a cyberchondriac," I countered, a statement she probably couldn't even hear over the clattering of my laptop keys as I instantly did exactly what she proposed.
I started through the list. None of it sounded good, except for the benign UTI, and some of it sounded as bad as all the things I'd been imagining, like bladder cancer. The only one I was sure I could rule out was prostate cancer.
Mom continued to reassure me as I read through the page.
Suddenly, I blurted out: "Um, never mind. I'm an idiot."
I read the following blurb to her:
Urine can be colored pink, red, or brown for reasons that have nothing to do with bleeding in the urinary tract:
- Foods: beets, berries, and rhubarb in large amounts
I had forgotten.
In my zeal to embrace all my new-found knowledge I'd gained watching Forks Over Knives the night before, I had hit up some vegan cooking blogs that morning, then run off to Harris Teeter with a few new recipes in hand. I had made a vegan pumpkin pie and a huge platter of beet chips, all before 10 a.m. No one liked the beet chips but me, so I had eaten them.
All of them.
All day long.
In fact, I had eaten nothing but beets that day.
I hurriedly hung up the phone with my mother's laughter still ringing through it, doubly embarrassed for having scoffed at my poor kids' hypochondriacal moments. I ran to their rooms and apologized and told them about my own stupidity.
We've continued to read and watch films on veganism. We're close to eliminating all animal products from our diet and we're having a lot of fun experimenting with vegan cooking and baking. We try not to sound too crazy when we're talking about it, but it seems that part just comes naturally for us sometimes.