No, this isn’t a summary about an aging Butler, unhappy with the choices he has made in his life. It is however, about the choices I have made in my life; a rather sad commentary on my current diet trends.
Have I mentioned what a time-suck eating and preparing meals is?
I fully understand my need to eat, out of ingrained habit if nothing else, but it’s really, really a pain in the ass.
No, I don’t have an eating disorder. That would require effort and caring, neither of which I really have about food. For me, food is just a means to an end; I must eat or I get a headache, become angry and then no one is happy.
So I’m reading along in my magazine, Parenting, (because I don’t have enough hands-on experience) and it says,
“56: Percentage of you who said you eat more healthfully now that you have kids. Good for you!” (March, 2008 pg. 66).
I, apparently, belong to the other 44% of people who do not eat more healthfully now that they have kids. In fact, my eating habits hit the toilet when my kids arrived. Why? You ask. What’s the matter with you anyway? You retort. Well, here is a glimpse of my meal-preparing-day.
6:30 a.m. Start the pot of coffee. 10 cups if my husband is home, 4 cups if I am solo.
7:00 Start to cut, dice, chop food for my 9 month old. Get out dry cheerios to purchase time with. Wake my other two children from bed.
7:15 Put baby in high chair. Cover her lap with a towel, tucked in around her sides and up under her bib in attempt to thwart meandering food. Put bib on top. Purchase 5 minutes with 15 cheerios. Pour cup of coffee.
7:20 Ask children what they want for breakfast. Give them each three choices. Older daughter cannot have dairy which eliminates cold-cereal stand-by. Eggo waffles, frozen bagel with butter, scrambled egg. Have two sips of coffee. Baby needs more cheerios.
7:30 Make scrambled egg for daughter after arguing that I am not making chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast again. Son decides to get out cold cereal (thank God); being 9 and a dairy eater has many advantages. Throw baby some more cheerios.
7:40 Daughter #1 eating eggs. Son, eating cereal. Suck down more coffee and sit next to baby. Flip her some cut, diced, chopped strawberries. Then bananas. Watch to make sure she doesn’t choke. Spoon baby applesauce into her face so she doesn’t starve, since only about 40% of cut, diced, chopped food makes it to her mouth. More coffee.
7:50 Still feeding baby. Daughter #1 is done. Still hungry. Grab strawberries from container, eat them unwashed. Son is on second bowl of cereal. Oops, he poured too much. Shrugs and continues.
8:00 Start the breakfast yell to clean up their mess. Daughter said she did. Son says he will. Extract said baby from too-large high chair. Dump 2 lbs of cut, diced, chopped food from lap-towel onto high chair tray. Wash face, hands, head, hair, nose orifice--the baby's, not mine. Suck down more coffee.
8:10 Ignore kitchen so the children will make the bus on time. Yell, demand, point at backpacks, shoes, homework, jackets, hats, in various stages of assembly and in various places on hallway floor.
8:25 Out the door to bus with three children in tow.
8:35 return from bus stop. Survey damage. Dirty egg pan on stove. Daughter #1’s plate on counter containing: half her (now cold) scrambled eggs, three strawberries, each with a bite missing, apparently they were too “smooshy.” Carton of milk on table. Box of cereal, on table. Bowl filled with soggy cheerios left on counter. Pile of assorted baby sundries in heap on high chair tray, remaining uneaten cut, diced, chopped food on paper plate on table. Pour more coffee. Add whiskey.
8:40 Baby crying. Make her 6 ounces of formula. Feed baby.
9:00 Baby sleeping, bottle sucked bone-dry. Lay her down for morning nap.
9:05 Enter kitchen. Decide on breakfast. Proceed to eat: four bites cold scrambled egg, three half-eaten smooshy strawberries. Sip of coffee. Work my way to cut, diced, chopped food bits from baby. Vacuum plate clean except for brown banana bits. Brown bananas are nasty. Dump soggy cereal into trash while cursing my son’s wasteful habits. Clean kitchen.
9:20 Heat remnants of cold coffee in microwave. Sit down and watch the rest of Ellen. I now have until 11:00 all to myself. The kitchen is clean. (Relatively) The house is quiet. I write. I blog. I work. I sit and stare. 11:00 is around the corner and I will have to repeat the aforementioned steps all again. (Substituting the coffee for iced tea or coke of course.) It’s enough to drive a person to wine way before 4:00.
So, is this what the other 44% of people are doing, who don’t “eat more healthfully now that they have kids?” I can guarantee that my meals—at least breakfast and lunch—are simply remains of the day and are not made for my enjoyment. My children get the first round, I get the second.
My mother is tsking right now, guaranteed. She’s always on me to eat better. “When you eat better, you feel better,” is her mantra. (Along with, “When you look good, you feel good” referring to being dressed and fixing my face and hair. Which, I might point out, you don't see listed in the above steps.)
I know what you’re thinking. “But it only takes a few minutes to make a bowl of oatmeal, or toast some bread.” True. But then there is assembly. And dirty-ing of dishes. And more clean-up, and vanishes another 20 minutes of my alone-quiet-do-what-I want time. I just can’t be bothered. I’m happy to eat if I can buy it. Or if it’s prepared for me. If I don’t have to clean up afterwards. Or if it’s from a bakery. (I’m a sucker for sugary carbs.)
And what are the 56% of those other people eating? You know, the Good Moms? Perhaps a soft boiled egg, cantaloupe slices, and some fresh squeezed orange juice. Maybe even an asparagus frittata, mixed berry fruit cup, and grapefruit juice on ice. Not me. I’m happy with hardened bagel crusts, dried peanut butter waffle carcass, and whatever fruit was too smooshy to swallow. If I’m lucky the kids will forget to drink their reconstituted orange juice, which will be slightly warm when I get to it. Lucky Me.