If there is one thing in my parenting existence that gives me a ridiculous amount of stress, it is MEALTIMES. I.NEED.HELP.
I am the girl who went to college and lived my entire first year eating frozen yogurt and cold cereal…the dorm dining hall was my junkfood dream…I am a carb junkie. Last Wednesday, while my intentions were good, I left Subway without eating when I noticed that the sandwich lady sneezed on the case that held the bread. Rather than be bummed out, I was happy because it gave me an excuse to eat peanut M&Ms for lunch.
My eating habits suck.
My incompetence as a meal consumer and meal planner is not for lack of being exposed to great food. In fact, my mom was an AWESOME cook, but her entire day centered around meal prep. She was a stay-at-home-mom who cooked Korean food for most of our meals (most Korean meals take all day or even days to prepare). As soon as she put us on the schoolbus, she was off to the market, picking up fresh items for dinner later that night – we would return home to incredible smells coming from our front door even before we stepped into the house. After school, we would walk into the kitchen, and find fresh fruit, beautifully cut up on a plate, and numerous pots on the stove, bubbling up with some amazing-looking meals.
Everybody tells me that I’m a pretty good cook too…when I have the time. But that’s the catch – I only know how to prepare a meal with ample shopping, prep and cooking time. Seriously, who has time for that??? Half of the stuff I feed my kids is frozen in some form or another (at least it is usually in whole frozen form like frozen peas, carrots, fruit, etc) because the TIME I have to shop is limited and I just can’t get through all the fresh stuff before it spoils. I do admit that there is a fair amount of processed food in that freezer, too, because that’s what can be done quickly and easily and even I, in all of my cooking incompetence, need a break.
I haven’t figured how to get a meal on the table in the half hour that elapses from the time that I walk in the door to the time that my kids are screaming from hunger, or I am stressing because cooking time is leaching into bath time. As a result, my kids eat a LOT of pasta with frozen veggies because this all can be made in 15 minutes or less. Spaghetti with butter and parmesan cheese, with a side of frozen peas is a particular favorite in our house. I am NOT organized enough to plan in advance enough to make food on the weekends to nuke later – I haven’t come close to making that whole method work well.
I need help. My daughter has become a carb junkie. My kids, once avid vegetable eaters (when veggies were mashed up into the form of babyfood), curl their noses at the sight of fresh veggies. And while they do both eat meat, it needs to be either greasy or salty. They only eat a bite of whatever it is that I put on their plate (I make them eat at least one bite of each thing – and trust me, this “18 times” rule is bullsh*t – I can’t tell you the number of times I have put different veggies on their plate and they still won’t eat it) in anticipation of “dessert” which, in my defense, is not always a bad dessert (fresh fruit). I am setting them up for bad eating habits, and it’s because I’ve catered to the ease of a quickly put-out dinner. My parents, my in-laws, and other non-related people criticize me for the fact that my kids don’t eat well.
If there is one thing that I ever doubt in my capacity as a mom, it will be my ability to teach them proper eating habits. I truly never want my kids to struggle with food in the way that I do, but intentions are different from actions, and without a solid foundation, it’s hard to believe they won’t struggle…