I tend to be a middle of the road parent. Not in everything, I suppose, but when it comes to what my kids eat, I coast between what I know they should have and what tastes great, sounds fun, and is realistic.
An important note here: I know what the “right way” is. I get it. Organic, free range, real food, fair trade, wholesome. If that works for you, then I say “Go for it!” I will cheer you on while I eat a Snickers.
I’ve always been a bit of a rule breaker. My kids had eggs before they were supposed to, and we discovered that there was, in fact, no peanut allergy when my mom gave my daughter a spoonful of peanut butter at a year old. Of course, we weren’t reckless; we knew there was no history of food allergies and we never gave honey (I’m still not 100 percent sure why). We broke the rules, and it was okay for us.
Even now I struggle to know what is right. I feel the pull toward the organic milk and fruit, but the truth is my wallet wins out and I go with what’s cheaper. I once read to at least avoid the dirty dozen, but have you read the list? It’s the food we actually eat. That basically means we’re supposed to buy organic. Still, I don’t.
Somehow I figure non-organic fruit is better than organic fruit chews in the shape of animals, and non-organic milk is better than endless cups of organic juice.
Organic is awesome, if that’s what you want to do. But I find myself thinking that it’s just not essential to me. It doesn’t make my top five or 10 or even 20 things to stress over as a parent. So, I let it go, but it’s not the only thing.
A few weeks ago we stopped for frozen yogurt. Instead of dinner. I think I cut up something later when people got hungry, but frozen yogurt was the meal. And you know what? My kids thought I was a super hero. And I was a lot happier with peanut butter chocolate swirl and some hot fudge. Sometimes mom’s happiness matters more than checking off everything on our food pyramid.
I know we can’t do these things all the time. The truth is I cook, a lot. We don’t bring a lot of junk food in the house, but sometimes I choose frozen yogurt for dinner because it’s fun.
Cruising in the middle has made me a lot happier. It’s eased some of the mental worries over things I can’t control, and it’s helped me remember that life never goes 100 percent our way. It’s taken my type A tendencies and relaxed them enough that I can smile more and worry less.
We still struggle when junk food comes in our house at special occasions. Somehow putting a celebration on the calendar makes endless buckets or stockings of candy acceptable. Maybe if it’s fair trade chocolate it’s okay? I don’t think my scale cares what kind of chocolate I eat, and my kids get just as hyped up. So the balance comes when we need to reign it in. It’s not easy.
No one said this parenting ride wouldn’t be without some bumps in the road. So we navigate the best we can right after we swing through the drive-up for a latte. There’s no wrong way to do this. When our kids are raising their own children they’ll think the things we cared about are crazy because they know more. It’s just how generations evolve. It’s science. It’s life.
A few things that don’t change? A happy parent makes a happier household. Sometimes you have to take in the information, do the thing that works best for you, and know that might change. Next month I may realize we should all be drinking kombucha every day. Who knows? And maybe sometimes I will buy some organic products. But maybe sometimes we have to remember to do our best and enjoy the ride.