Written by Lindsay Gerber
Here I sit, in the middle of my tornado thinking about next week’s meals. Meal planning, right? Everyone is doing it. I am going to be so organized. I am going to have the most Pinterest looking chalkboard, placed over my newly painted shiplap. It will be loaded up with 5 new meals and only 2 days of leftovers, all written in my fanciest handwriting. I might even get cute and draw a flower on the side. What an accomplishment this will be. Surely, everyone will love my food because I’ve carefully and strategically planned it out. You might be wondering about my tornado. Well, it consists of my 4 wildly cute and energetic children who were born within 6 years of each other. Of course, if you’re reading this, you’re most likely a mom or dad who doesn’t need the word “tornado” defined for you. You feel me.
Okay, let’s get back to dinner. Are your kids “foodies” just like mine? Let me define “kid foodie” in my house. Kid Foodie: a child who finds happiness in eating processed food that has enough carbs to last you a whole year. Do you ever wonder why you cook in the first place? No matter how many times I plan our meals I know that 9 times out of 10 my kids won’t like what I prepare anyways. I don’t know how many different ways I’ve prepared chicken or vegetables with no success. Okay, so now you know that the cute chalkboard with perfect plotted meals doesn’t exist. This evening, garlic herb chicken marinates in the crock pot smelling like a walk past the best smelling restaurant in Italy, and in about 30 minutes the defeat will come. I will not be surprised, but I will pretend to be in hopes that maybe they will go in for a second bite just to seek my approval.
I have always said I’d never prepare more than one meal for our family of six. To be honest, I sometimes still say that and totally contradict what I know about myself. I’m here to confront my problem. It’s a lie. Tonight, I’ll indulge in my delightful hard work. It’ll most definitely feel like a night in Tuscany. Before all of this, I’ll prepare a couple PB&J’s, a turkey sandwich, and Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese. You know, “Kraft” because the middle child refuses to eat anything that’s not processed. One turkey sandwich placed at the opposite end of the table because the smell of peanut butter is just too much for him to take. In his defense, a peanut allergy isn’t helping. I also can’t forget that one PB&J needs grape jelly and one needs strawberry. Will they want it cut down the middle or diagonal? It’ll be coupled with 3 cups of milk and one with water for the child who associates drinking milk with the stomachache he had “that one time”. I certainly can’t forget the cups. No one wants the cup that makes the squeaky sound. Let me just take that and chuck it in the garbage quick. What else goes with our dinner you ask? Surely it is some sort of vegetable, such as broccoli. Well, maybe it is, unless your kid gags on it every time and you want to play the guessing game of whether or not he or she will puke. Riveting, right? There is also the child who does eat the vegetable and then looks for a trophy afterwards. If you consider an extra slice of bread with butter on it as a side, then I guess our meal is complete. What is that ever so popular hashtag? Oh yeah, #winning!
Mamas, listen up. Make those separate meals when you have to. Feed them veggies, but don’t blame yourself when they constantly refuse. If tonight you just don’t want to fight it, drop the heavy weight and slap together some PB&Js. Sit down and pour yourself a glass of wine. Give yourself grace. Be shameless and unapologetic about the decisions you make for your family. You were made for them and them for you. It’s like politics, everyone has an opinion but it is shaped by what they feel is right. Don’t ever let someone else’s lifestyle leave you feeling defeated. Don’t justify your decisions to anyone, but be confident in them and allow yourself to laugh when things just didn’t go as planned. It’s important to keep our children healthy, but the number one step in doing so is loving them well and without the weight of judgement.