The first two years of motherhood, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and coming to terms with the fact that we will never sleep again, come to teach us that life’s grandest magic is brought through discomfort and pain. Feeding young children comes to take all magic, joy and hope of that life, away.
Just as our precious angels move onto solids, learn to scoop up rice with their spoons, one fine day they decide that the only acceptable food is spaghetti exactly like you made it yesterday.
At first you ignore the problem, thinking that they’ll get hungry enough and eat their lentils, but they don’t. (My son ate bananas for six months.) You begin to google child-friendly meals, run around town looking for the perfect ingredients, while stuffing your screaming kid with candy, try to involve them in preparing the food as these smart sites suggest, they eat nothing, you try again. You are calm, together, you know you shouldn’t make a big deal out of this, it’ll only backfire. Until while trying to carve a dinosaur out of a chicken nugget, you suddenly are not. You find yourself trying to stuff food in their mouths, begging them to at least lick it, threatening them with no snacks. But nothing. You scream. You cry. You throw the chicken across the room.
You miss your mommy.
And they still win.
You boil the spaghetti. Exactly like you do every time, there are only so many ways to prepare that intricate meal. You give in. Hell, you even serve yourself a plate of the tasteless empty carb. And silently slice a cucumber and put it on a side plate, because you still believe in miracles.
“Yuck. This spaghetti is yucky, mommy. I want spaghetti with rice.”
I retain my cool.
He stuffs the cucumber in his mouth.
“This cucumber has made me stuffed,” he says, cucumber still in mouth, leaving the table.
Two seconds later, he’s standing in front of me, holding his plastic snack bowl with both hands, looking into my eyes like one of the orphans in Oliver Twist.
“Mommy, I’m starving. I need cookies.”