Let me start by creating a visual for you:
I’m wearing a set of flannel, black and white toile pajamas (with pink trim), collar up of course. My short hair is pushed back with one of Audrey’s pink, yellow, and green floral emmie j headbands so most of it is sticking straight up. I have a black spatula in my right hand. My left, if I remember correctly is waiving wildly in the air.
“Fine, then don’t eat. Go hungry! Better yet, go right into the kitchen and help yourself to whatever your little heart desires. Have cookies! Have Doritos for breakfast! Go right ahead; I truly don’t care anymore.”
Yes indeed one of my finer moments of motherhood, right here in black and white for all of you to see. Reminds me of the time when she had the horrible skin virus molluscum. Please take note: if your child has this condition, do not let your child swim, bathe, share a donut, or even talk on the phone with anyone, ever until the condition is completely gone. It is so highly contagious and a royal pain in the ass to deal with. I had to treat one of the bumps and she didn’t want me to touch it. I was over her fear and worry about the damn thing and I just wanted to get the medicine and be done with it. It was late. I had reached my limit. At her last tear-filled sob that she was afraid it might hurt, I blurted out, “Well fine, then. Let them spread all over your little body.”
The good news is that there has been at least a full year between these two outbursts of fine mothering quality. It doesn’t happen that often but boy when it does…
So the issue now is all about food and my child’s current revolt against anything I cook. I. Am. Over. It. I make no claims to be Barefoot Contessa, but I serve my family healthy, well prepared meals. I use only organic chicken. I make my spaghetti sauce from scratch. I make mashed potatoes from actual potatoes. I have never served a frozen meatball in my life! I plan meals that are supposed to be relatively kid friendly. A few weeks ago I made lasagna pasta which consisted of a kid’s holy trinity – meat, noodles, and cheese. I served this delight only to watch both of my ungrateful children stare blankly at their bowls. Whining ensued.
Over this past weekend I served red beans and rice, of which Audrey pushed around in her bowl, took two bites and declared she was finished. The next day I made a gumbo, which I can say with certainty is good. Very good. I cook a pot of gumbo for no less than five hours. It was met with an apathetic side of meah. I should have known better but I had big plans for Sunday morning. I was making pancakes – from scratch! I found this delish recipe that consisted of whole wheat flour, oats, honey, and buttermilk. Yes, that’s right, I made my own buttermilk. They were crusty golden brown and as delicious as expected.
I have never heard so much unfounded complaining in my life. I was informed that they looked too lumpy, they felt funny when picked up with the fork, and yes, there was a concern that they weren’t cooked long enough. I thought I would roll my eyeballs right out of my head.
This brings us to the visual of me standing in the den, spatula in hand, yelling something about either going hungry or eating Skittles for breakfast. I truly didn’t care.
Isn’t it true that no good deed goes unpunished?
I know that as a mother, I am the nutritional gatekeeper for my children. The choices I make daily about what to serve them impacts their lives. I think this is a pretty big responsibility! Our food choices today will have an impact on how they eat as adults. Look, I know how to pick my battles and I truly am flexible. I know that nothing is perfect. In our home, nothing is off-limits. My kids have access to anything as long as it is in moderation. No one ever has to clean their plate. You eat until you are full. (Of course, you can’t just look at the plate and declare your fullness.) We don’t use food to take care of emotional issues. You have to try something at least once. And lastly, the one I am having the hardest time with, you have to eat what I serve you. I am a mother, not a short order cook! This idea of turning away my prepared meals in exchange for cereal, raisin toast, or a PB&J has got to stop.
Am I the only person on the planet this happens to? I know that can’t possibly be true. I do think I could possibly be the only one screaming in pajamas wielding a spatula, though. I am open to any and all suggestions! Truly, though, I do know what I have to do. I have to be a mother. I have to draw a hard line and actually do what I always say to myself that I’m going to do. I truly do have wonderful children and I love them dearly. I’m not an idiot, though. I realize that my daughter is smart enough to bargain her way out of meal she’d rather not eat. Which is where the mothering comes in. Yes, oh yes, the mothering. It always comes down to the mothering.