When I was a little kid, as my mother tells it, I was a very easy child, except that, every once in a while, inexplicably, I’d get really, really crabby.
My grandmother was the one to figure it out. “That kid’s hungry!” she declared. And sure enough, feed me a snack and I was back to being easy.
To this day, as an adult, it can be hard for me to step back and realize that, when the world and everything in it looks like shit, it might be because I am hungry … or tired … or about to come down with something.
My friend once told me about when he had another friend come to visit him in New York City. They were about to embark on a day of sight-seeing when his friend said, “I stop every hour, for a sit-down, even if I just get a soda.” My friend said his heart sank.
But he was telling me this because he and I were going to spend a day going to museums and he was planning to stop every hour. Because it works.
When our kids were small, my husband and I adopted a mantra: “Keep blood-sugar levels high and expectations low.” Frequent sit-downs, keeping hydrated, not letting ourselves get to the point where we were starving and, most importantly, when the kids (or we) got tired (or ideally, right before everyone got tired), we were done. I remember seeing a hyped-up man at the Bronx Zoo, his toddler child wailing in his stroller, saying to his exhausted-looking wife, “But we need to see everything!” No, no, you don’t.
We’re not super-efficient machines; we’re biological bodies. It’s good to keep that in mind.