When my son was born, I was determined to be a good parent. I read lots of baby books, as did my husband, and we felt mildly prepared when our little bundle arrived. It wasn’t long, however, before unsolicited baby advice began flying around and I started to feel overwhelmed. I became even more determined to know my shit and do this parenting thing right.
Fast forward to month four when my Bug was technically old enough for solids. He was ravenous, and I wasn’t going to feed him that garbage that came in little cans from the grocery store. (Plus, we were super broke and store-bought baby food is expensive!) I started buying fruits and veggies in large quantities, peeling each one, boiling them, throwing them in the food processor, portioning them into ice cube trays, and then carefully labeling all the freezer bags so I could monitor his intake and be on the alert for allergies. Depending on how many varieties of food I was making, the process could take up to four hours. It was exhausting.
I gleefully watched the little man enjoy a new food each week and I patted myself on the back for being such a dedicated parent. Five years later, his little sister hit the world stage and the whole game changed completely.
She wasn’t terribly interested in eating real food at four months. Or at five. Or at six. She’d have a nibble here and there, but most of the food I was spending all this time preparing was going completely to waste. Simply put, she preferred the boob. Then it happened: she asked for a french fry when we were out to eat and she went to town on it. I’d never seen her so intent on devouring people food. I thought seriously, why am I beating myself up over this?
It finally occurred to me that there’s no such thing as baby food, only people food. I stopped making the girl special batches of fruits and veggies and just smashed up whatever I was eating and fed her when we ate. She was happy. I spent less time in the kitchen. We all won!
Before long, this realization spilled over into childhood eating disputes. My children are required to try whatever I’m serving whether it was a cheeseburger or a slab of salmon. If they don’t like it, that’s fine, they didn’t have it eat it. However, they would not be getting a “children’s meal”. Only Red Robin and Olive Garden have that shit. In my house, we have people food. If you aren’t a fan of the main course, you may have more veggies. If you aren’t a fan of the veggies, you may have more of the main meal. If neither appeal to your delicate taste buds, my child, you may grab a yogurt from the fridge. Mama don’t serve mac and cheese or chicken nuggets in this house.
Parenting has become a whole lot easier since I learned not to take myself or the job so seriously. Inevitably, no matter how hard I try to be a good mom, I’m going to screw my kids up in one way or the other. We’ll all enjoy the journey a lot more if I’m not so stressed about it. I’ve seen lots of moms reach out to others for advice on what to feed their infants, when, what techniques to use, and the list goes on. Here’s my advice to you mamas: They’ll eat when they want to eat. Don’t stress yourself out about how they eat it. Keep encouraging them to eat the healthy stuff by making it available to them. Tomorrow will be easier.