Mom guilt is the worst

Mom guilt is the worst. It really is. What makes it so bad is the guilt is built upon phantom insecurities conjured up by a reckless mind. Trivial on the verge of ridiculous. My mornings generally begin with Food Guilt as I stare into my 5 year old’s empty lunch box. What to prepare and pack? Or better yet, what NOT to. I surely don’t want to risk being perceived as the average, lackluster mom. You know the ones – they send a classic PBJ every single day with some sort of sliced fruit (usually of the apple variety) and ziplock baggie of Goldfish crackers to round it off.

The spread appears compact, tidy and historically satisfies the uncomplicated whims of the under-ten-palate. It’s so very boring, right? Forget that your kid might actually enjoy these eats I fear that such a lunch is all so cliché and I want to BE better, DO better! I mastermind a perfect lunch under the guise I am establishing the foundation of a lifetime of exotic and adventurous eating habits based on thinking outside the average lunchbox. And besides, I reason, kid’s talk.

They come home and report on who got in trouble and you know they are definitely keeping tabs on what their lunch buddy brings to school because you hear about it. So-and-so “gets to” bring multi colored pudding tubs with peel off foil tops or chewy granola bars. And secretly you judge such choices. But what qualifies as a judgment-free, better lunch? What is better? Is it a lovely slice of pink salmon roasted with a touch of lemon with a side of curried jasmine rice left over from last night’s dinner? Or some tofu Pad Thai noodles with edamame. How about a cup of pomegranate seeds – the super fruit! – lovingly extracted from their fleshy pockets or some deep green baby spinach crowned with cucumber slices sprinkled with feta and walnuts? Healthy, refined and sure to impress! Such ponderings begs the question, “who exactly am I dressing for anyway?”

I am caught in an internal banter of healthy Vs image Vs reality? Naturally I really do want to be that phenomenal “mom’s mom” who provides their impressionable little ones with meals that are sure to grandstand while packing a nutritional punch. I really really want to be her. If I can achieve that then my kids will be those kids, the ones with a refined palette, an eagerness to explore, thoughtfully presented with a dose of nutritional supremacy between 11:00 am and 11:20 am, Monday-Friday during the academic year. Most notably everyone will notice.

The truth of the matter is I am not a “mom’s mom” and never will be although along the way I have surely half heartedly tried. It’s hard to achieve the status of a term that has no definition based on reality. She’s elusive and shady at best. My kids have figured this out long before I have and perhaps maybe this is what feeds and fuels us both? Besides I don’t think the lunch lady is looking anyway. Now excuse me, I’m off to prepare some ants-on-a log. Bon Appetit!

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Erin Dow
11 years ago

I completely relate to this article. Once I let go of the fantasy
that my child *wanted* cold Pad Thai or veggie sushi, I realized
that peanut butter and jelly on wheat, two colors of fruits and/or
vegetables and even a few chips IS a balanced meal, even if it’s
eaten every day of the school week. Five school lunches a week
isn’t so daunting when I remember it’s five times out of an average
of 35 times per week–between meals and snacks–that my children
eat.

@twinbabiesdad
11 years ago

For a while last year we were the family that was starving their
little girl. One of the twins was scoring hot lunches and letovers
because she was eating all of her lunch at rec before school and
during morning snack. At lunch she would have an empty lunch box
and the lunch lady had a big heart. It never occured to us that we
might have to teach her about how it was all supposed ot work. But
kindergarten is different from pre-school. She was making her own
choices, but didn’t have the info she needed to make good ones. As
far as we know, she got the message and actually eats lunch @
lunchtime now. -B