Disasters in Parenting

There is literally NO ONE that still reads this blog, not that I ever had a stellar following. Even better, there’s no reason I should be writing a post at the moment… This is completely unplanned and ill-timed, but that’s exactly what makes it so appealing to my inner Disaster Master. I’m currently lying down on my couch – fighting the pull of that time-sucker, Sleep – contemplating the state of my life on the eve of my 36th birthday.

I am now a mother of two. And not a day goes by that I don’t feel like an utter failure at this mommy gig I never even had to interview for. I was wholly unqualified for the job, but good news is that apparently any idiot (me) can have a baby as long as they are biologically able. Very luckily, I was. So now there are these two little demons who have the great misfortune of following me around on the Disaster Coaster that tends to be my day-to-day. What I lack in direction and sense, I do make up for in just sheer, unadulterated and unconditional love though… So there’s that…

Things I’ve learned along the way? Stretch marks grow on you… Get it? That’s a total joke because as much as we all like to say “I’ve earned my stripes!” I would really like to be one of those beeotches that are teetering around on their tiny pre-pregnancy-sized feet going “I just have one of those bodies where I didn’t get a single stretch mark!” Shut it, Lady. The sound of your voice is interrupting my doughnut consumption.

For reals though, I’ve learned more in the past 5 years than in the preceding 31. I’ve also forgotten an alarming amount of things… like your name, most likely… but I rarely forget a face if that’s any comfort! But don’t get me started on Dinosaurs or we could be here all day! My Disney princess knowledge is also shockingly strong… I sing a lot of mermaid-based music now…

I box my feelings away. No, not like that. I WISH I could suppress some feelings instead of always being so damn upfront about everything! No, I mean I physically hit things. As in boxing. And I freaking love it. I’ve started a class that is comprised of all moms right now on Thursday/Friday mornings. If you live in NYC and want to get in shape physically, mentally, and emotionally, come and join in:) It’s very therapeutic to hit things, just don’t tell that to my kids.

And then there’s food… Food and I have had to redefine our relationship. Food was everything, and now my kids are everything. True to Disaster form, my kids are absolutely out of their minds in the food department. The list of foods that they dropped from their repertoire as they got older is heartbreaking. Neither of them will touch fruit outside of apples for my son. Who does that? Not a single berry… My heart weeps. Also chicken is on the no fly list unless I skewer it, and even then it can’t make a weekly appearance. Thank the food gods for fish, lamb, and eggs… Although my daughter won’t tolerate yolks so basically just rip out my heart and brain and throw them into traffic, please.

So cooking for my family isn’t what cooking used to be. There was a point where I just didn’t want to bother anymore because where was the joy??? But we found each other again, and we challenged each other and I’ve become a real home cook… It’s something that evolves daily and is as volatile as the market, but my adventures as a home chef have incredible moments of deep, resounding satisfaction.

I also get a lot of “I’m not going to eat this, Mommy.”

So the challenge is in finding love in and giving love through cooking. I hate how mealtime can be a battle with kids. There are moms who have it much tougher with dietary restrictions from allergies and diabetes who struggle through it as well. And while living on the upper east side of Manhattan brings up worries about my monoglot children, I find that I sometimes worry more about whether I will ever be able to make them my favorite strawberry shortcake recipe… Or any form of stew… Deep concerns here, folks.

Just so you know that I’m not totally off-balanced, we do actually have REAL concerns and issues we battle daily. We win some, we lose some, but the war rages on and I think we are the good guys. And I dream of the day that I can bring my Le Creuset to the table, place it on a trivot, and serve a heaping helping of coq au vin to my little soldiers and watch as they soak up the golden broth with ripped off chunks of crusty baguette… Replenished for the next battle ahead.

So maybe 36 is the year that I surface a little more from this mommy job that I’ve been drowning in and find my love of writing again the way that I’ve redefined the state of my union with food and cooking. Who knows, but as I try to instill in my kids, I have to always hope:)


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4 responses to “Disasters in Parenting

  1. Dave A

    Golden broth? You should be using red. You know that!

    • mindylvoff

      Of course I use red!!! Fine, golden RED broth. Sheesh. Can’t believe you read the post – insomnia?

  2. Jess Evans

    Oh my dear. I hear ya. Food can be such a big struggle. There is an incredible fabulous book about managing the insanity that is kids and food. It’s called Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense. It’s not about food at all (well, barely). It’s mostly about managing the relationship between you and your kids around food. It was incredibly helpful for me with my twins and also helpful for everyone I know who read it (I gave a lot of copies away). In case you aren’t into reading instruction manuals, I can boil it down for you: It’s all about boundaries, yours and theirs. You decide what you want to cook. They decide what they want to eat.

    The research behind it is interesting. It turns out kids need to be see some hard-to-like foods tens or even hundreds of times before they are ready to eat them. It’s totally normal for them to pick and choose only the easy-to-like foods out of a meal. Easy-to-like foods are usually carbohydrates. But everyone kid is different so there are never any guarantees about any given food.

    You do need to make a few (very few) modifications. Dial back the heat, or make sure there is something not spicy on the table as well. For little ones, some added processing (cutting stuff up small) is helpful. But that’s it. Cook what you want to cook. Eat what you want to eat. Let the kids eat or not eat what they want out of the meal. Reassure them that they don’t have to eat anything they don’t want to eat. Let them taste things and spit the taste into a bowl if they didn’t want to swallow it (shocking, right?!) That gives them the confidence to try more stuff, knowing they won’t be pressured to choke it down.

    The most important thing is not to limit your cooking and eating based on their tastes. Because their tastes are undeveloped. They need to see you eating and enjoying all the food you eat and enjoy. All the fruits, all the veggies, everything! They need to see those foods on the table, to smell them, etc. As long as there is no power struggle around food (no one is trying to make them eat anything or even try anything they don’t want) they will eventually learn to eat pretty much everything. Not everything will be a favorite, but everything will be tolerated, and many many things will be well-liked.

    It can be hard to prepare a whole meal and see your kid eat nothing but a bowl of rice and a glass of milk, but I promise you, they won’t get malnourished and they will enjoy their mealtimes with you, and they will eventually learn to eat everything you cook.

    • mindylvoff

      Thank you for your comment! I have heard the exposure rule! Unfortunately my kids actually went backwards and started with eating many things and then contracted down when they could start talking:) they actually eat really well, but like all of us, don’t like everything. They’re actually very similar to my husband:)

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