Every Sunday, I plan out a week’s worth of dinners. I make a detailed grocery list so that I will hopefully only have to take my two kids to the grocery store once. I take pride in my organizational skills and my ability to come up with healthy, kid-friendly meals that also appeal to me and my husband.
Every night, I swirl around the kitchen, doing a deliberate dance between the sink and the island, the stove and refrigerator. All while trying to keep the peace between two tired and hungry children. I give them art projects, recommend games to play, let them ‘help’ me cook. Mostly, I try to keep them from whining, or hurting themselves, so that I can accomplish the task at hand: feeding us, sustaining us, keeping us healthy.
Every night, when we sit down to eat, three-year-old Tess immediately pushes away her plate and says, “I not like that. I want something else.” This is probably because we used to give her something else when she requested it, until I got really, really tired of catering to the whims of a toddler. (Plus, the pediatrician told me I should stop.)
So now, we explain that this is her dinner, and if she doesn’t want to eat it, she’ll be hungry later, but this is her only chance to eat. I felt bad about this new strategy for a millisecond, until I realized that she wasn’t going to waste away overnight. And did I really want a child who would only eat four things, anyway? So now we sit through dinner, listening to her ask for yogurt and watching her make her ‘yucky’ face at the meal I so lovingly prepared.
And every night, when I put her in bed, she says, “Mommy, I hungry.”
Jen McNally moved to Maine from Colorado four years ago, in search of a simpler, more natural lifestyle. Since then, she has planted her first-ever vegetable garden, raised a flock of six hens, and continues to learn about healthy living. She is a stay-at-home mother of two active girls, ages five and three. In her former life, she studied in Germany for two years, traveled to 6 continents and 31 countries, and was the marketing manager for an adventure travel company. Jen contributes regularly to the Guiding Stars blog.