A fraught grumpy evening, a stormy exchange. An irrational, angry response that prompts sudden, heartbroken sobs - the kind that require flinging one's eight year old body onto the bed full length and letting shoulders heave.
I can only apologize. And I do.
I hold my girl on my lap and say I'm so sorry I acted that way.
The shuddering sighs come that signal the end of the weeping, and still we sit, rocking together on the bed. And then: Mommy, I'm hungry.
Well sweetie then you should have eaten more at supper. We're done eating today.
No, I did eat enough supper. I'm just hungry for....something.
Oh sweet girl. I can tell you what you are hungry for: you are hungry for security, for feeling loved, for feeling happy with your place in the world, for feeling content, for feeling accepted.
Instead, your body says that it is hungry for Ben & Jerry's, for BBQ Pringles, for Twizzlers, for Froot Loops. Maybe for hunks of salami hacked off, pinched together with thick slices of cheddar. Maybe dark chocolate truffles dusted in cocoa. Maybe a whole pan of Rice Krispie Treats.
So at 8, I get to teach you about the concept of comfort eating. The mother who swore not to bring her own food issues, her own body image issues into our relationship? Yep. That mom gets to explain that your body swears it is hungry, but hungry for the things you won't find in the fridge. That you can eat all evening long and still not fill that hole.
Will you remember learning this? When you are far away in a college dorm someday and reeling from a broken heart or a horrible job interview, will you remember that the hunger isn't going to be fed at the drive-thru?
I wonder about this, later, sitting on the couch licking raw cookie dough off my spoon.