Today was one of those days. You all know them. Just as I was starting to feel like I was getting back on top of my workload at work, I was dealt a blow when I learned of a decision made higher up the ladder that translates to a major undertaking being dumped on my lap for the next few weeks. That pile of tasks on my desk was just officially pushed to the back burner. I worked late in an attempt to get a head start, and to put out a few fires. Then I picked up the kids and arrived home to start making dinner.
Like a lot of people, I’m so exhausted by the time I get home most days that my kids are lucky they’re not fed a bowl of chips and some HoHos for dinner. But one of the commitments I’ve made to my children is to make an effort with dinner. I want to serve them good, healthy food to help their bodies and minds grow. I confess my love of cheese sometimes results in an over-representation of it in my meals, but I try to pack the meals full of nutrients too, using fresh vegetables and foods as little processed as possible.
My boys are pretty good eaters. My eldest loves vegetables, and both boys will eat lots of things lots of kids (and many adults) won’t: fish, seafood, mushrooms, spinach, etc. But I still get my share of whining, and after coming home from work feeling defeated but still putting the effort in to make a nutritious meal (that I thought was delicious), I was deflated a little more to hear the tiny violins start playing.
“I don’t like this.”
“Do I have to eat the onions?”
And then my 3-year-old — the same one whom I’ve asked twice in the last three minutes whether he has to go to the washroom, the same one who has twice replied “no” — suddenly starts squirming in his seat.
“Do you have to pee?” I ask.
“Yes!” he exclaims, his eyes betraying panic.
Knowing it’s an emergency, I throw him on my hip and bolt up the stairs, only to feel a warm sensation spread down my leg as I reach the bathroom.
By the time I got him cleaned up and get us back to the dinner table, my originally comfortingly warm dinner was now stone cold.
And while I scowled into my tilapia and (cold) warm vegetable salad, I searched my mind to find some morsel of gratitude from the experience. Gratitude is my refuge against the chilling tendrils of bitterness which, on occasion, start creeping into my heart: if I can shift perspective, I can chase away the sting of antipathy.
So here it is: Today, I am thankful that, as a child, my parents (more specifically, my mom) exposed me to the types of foods my kids might be disinclined to eat. You might feel ripped off by that one. Don’t. There are lots of people in the world who grew up eating a lot of junk, so are at a disadvantage in knowing how to prepare for themselves or their children the sorts of foods that will keep them healthy. I had the benefit of a mom who, long before the nutritionist craze that pervades our lives and the media, exposed me to good-for-me foods so that they wouldn’t be foreign to me. I am grateful for that, and I hope that, one day, my kids will be thankful for it too.
(But I won’t hold my breath).