The term "perfect storm" gets bandied about quite a bit these days: Rising unemployment and a wave of political extremism in Europe? Perfect storm! Crumbling city infrastructure and an active hurricane season? Perfect storm! You're fresh out of a hot shower and your skinny jeans are fresh out of the dryer? Perfect storm!
So perhaps the phrase has lost some of its impact. That said, let me assure you that what I am about to describe is, in fact, a perfect storm -- a confluence of events that, even taken separately, would be catastrophic. I'm talking about the winter that will not die. About a baby with a "loose bowel." And about Girl Scout Cookie season. It's a perfect storm of endless snow days, trapped in the house with a miserable kid, brimming diapers, and six boxes of the Little Brownie Baker's assorted delicacies.
This morning, we awoke to another 8 inches of white stuff. My son is banging his activity board as his stomach makes a queasy gurgle. I'd normally be working from home, but daycare is closed. Again. Another vacation day will be spent digging, scraping, salting, nursing, wiping, and washing. I'm not even finished my organic, high-fiber, whole wheat bagel with low-fat vegetable cream cheese (evidently made in a fit of self-loathing), but I'm already eyeing the pantry, where the cookies are lined up in their cheery, colorful boxes. Delicious cookies. Wonderful cookies. High-sugar, high-fat, no-fiber, 100% happiness cookies, snug in their plastic trays, blanketed in creamy chocolate, inviting me to grab a cup of coffee and cuddle up with them, to lose myself in their sweet, chewy embrace.
It's easy to convince myself that my sugar habit isn't a big deal. That I can quit whenever I want to. It's just, ya know, that I don't want to. And, besides, my weight is healthy, my blood pressure is normal. Sure, I get jittery. But what mom doesn't? So I pop a few Somoas to help me unwind? That doesn't mean I have a problem. Did I eat a handful of Thin Mints in the darkened hall bathroom? I did. But only so I wouldn't have to share. There's over half of a foot of snow outside, people. I deserve a cookie. A few cookies even.
But the Internet is really trying to harsh my mellow. Facebook friends keep posting links to articles about sugar addiction, the hazards of refined sugar, sugar toxicity, and danger, danger, danger!
Diabetes, weight gain, and mood swings -- yeah, I knew about all of that. But last night, as I munched a Tagalong, I turned to my husband and confessed, "So, I think I should maybe cut back on the sweets. I was reading this one article, and it said sugar can cause cognitive . . . um . . . mental . . . uh . . . cognitive . . . DAMN IT . . cognitive things."
"Cognitive things?" he asked, very judging-ly.
"Cognitive delays! Delays. Not 'things.' Delays."
He laughed in my face, judging-ly-er.
"C'mon. I'm serious. My cognition is already, like, bad."
"Okay then," Shelby said, "eat fewer sweets." But he looked away when he said it. Then he chewed a fingernail. He knew better.
I plucked another cookie from the tray. "Well, tomorrow. I'll begin tomorrow."
But it's tomorrow right now. And I need to dig out the car so I can get my husband to the airport so that he can do business in another, much warmer, state until Thursday. Pork Chop is rolling on the floor, making sure to spread the contents of his diaper evenly around his lower torso. It's begun to snow again. My mouth feels dry. I'm antsy. And would you look at that. The pantry door is ajar. I don't even remember opening it.