Living on $4.50 a day is easy today, but one of the reasons this is an exercise in empathy is to feel the restriction, to feel the hunger. So today, I am fasting, and feeling the hunger. I have decided not to abstain from water and tea. This will make my total cost less than a dollar.
Halfway through this day, I admit, I am very hungry, especially considering I have to make and prepare food for my children, but it is like anything else I have to abstain from, right now it is food that I am abstaining from. And this is what people feel every day who cannot afford to eat. When I think of this, I concentrate on this feeling, I realize how long it has been since I have really felt hungry. I used to feel hungry all the time, spiritually and physically.
When I was a very young mother, I used to get up, feed the kids breakfast but never eat it myself. My breakfast was a Dr. Pepper and a cigarette. Hmmm, healthy. I rarely ate before 3 PM, I would have some kind of late lunch rushed and then most time after I put the kids to bed dinner. Oddly enough, I was obsessed with feeding those kids in the most healthy way possible. They always had a green vegetable on their plate but I never took care of myself. Is it any wonder I was so depressed in those early years? I am not sure where I was on that list of things I had to do. I finally started eating properly and giving myself a healthy diet much later, and in that way, even though I was never and still usually am not hungry for breakfast, I always make myself eat it. I used to live with this gnawing hunger in my gut, all the time. It is quite symbolic, looking back at that.
So today, I feel this familiar feeling. I know people feel it all the time. For them, it is not self imposed. For millions of people, the gnawing feeling is something they ignore, like I am doing. For so many mothers are cutting up the last apple in the house and giving it to their hungry kids, and abstaining from it themselves because she cannot bear to see her child's hungry eyes. Today, I stand in solidarity with all the mothers who are giving up their own needs to feed their babies and I wish for them to be filled. I stay hungry today and consider these mothers. I understood them better than I knew. I just had to remember what it felt like.