I thought I Was A Rockstar Mom. Turns Out, I Wasn’t
Hi, I’m Kelly K, a stay at home mom.
I never cooked or thought much about food until 4 years ago, when my first girl, Sofia, was born. I fed her breast milk for almost 6 months, dappled in “healthy baby food” and then serving her “nutritious kid’s food” in her toddler years.
I felt pretty smug about being an amazing first time mother (conveniently forgetting the part where I sent her to the ER at 2 months old because I thought my kitchen walkway was wider than it actually was when I held her on one arm and walked through confidently. Okay, enough on that).
Back in those days, I might make my husband and I some beef stew for dinner but then give Sofia plain rice and grilled chicken with a side of apples. Because 12 month olds don’t eat beef stew and certainly not steamed asparagus.
Then came my second baby girl, Ava, in 2013. I followed the rulebook. Fed her breast milk for about 5 months, started solids between 4-6 months, shopped for squash, pear and pea purees in the impossibly cute little glass jars (which I accumulated untold piles of and refused to throw away. Never know when I might be hit with the Pinterest inspiration lightning bolt and turn these things into an artful wall display. Still waiting for the lightning bolt).
At around 7 months, Ava started eyeing my “adult” plate and swatting away her purees as I’m spoonfeeding her. At this point, her diet mainly consisted of fruit and veggie purees, formula, cheerios and yogurt puffs – great for keeping her happily occupied as I attempt to shovel forkfuls of usually cold food into my mouth. As a mom, it’s an untold rule that we don’t actually get to eat at mealtime. Between hand washing, feeding kids, cleaning up spills, refilling spilled drinks, changing a soaked shirt – if the child is even wearing one- and ensuring no kids are choking or eating their napkin, I’m lucky if I get to enjoy a moment of just sitting in one spot.
Back to Ava and her envy of my big girl food. My husband and I started giving her food from our plate and within days, I could not get her to eat any kind of baby food. I had to give away my stash of carefully curated baby puree varieties in the cupboard. Yes, there is actually a lot of exhaustive thought put into baby food shopping.
So Ava was really enjoying the flavors and textures of all this new adult food, with her two front teeth furiously working over time. When her bottom two front teeth came in, it was all over. She never looked back into her mushy and bland pureed past.
I’ll never forget the day that I made myself some spicy braised eggplant and pork (with chopped jalapenos and red pepper flakes in the sauce) and was just enjoying it with some rice. Ava was having her own appropriate non spicy kid meal but she would not leave me alone.
She kept grabbing at my plate and I finally let her taste a spoonful, trying to avoid giving her any of the jalapenos and pepper flakes. Her eyes opened wide and she immediately asked for more (and by asking for more, I mean grunting and flailing desperately). She ended up eating half of my lunch.
While I was a little non-plussed that my 8 month old basically bullied me into giving up half my lunch, I had a thoughtful moment. Back in those infant and toddler days (Sofia was 3 then), I was just trying to make it through each day and hold on to my sanity. So a thoughtful moment was quite an event for me.
My thoughtful moment was this: I started to wonder why we have this mentality of “adult food” and “kids food” here in the US. According to the National Restaurant Association, there’s about a million eateries in the United States; visit any one and you will most likely find a kids menu consisting mostly of chicken fingers, pizza, cheeseburger and buttered noodles.
At family holiday gatherings and parties, there’s usually some food there “just for the kids,” along with Capri Suns and chocolate milk and for the health minded parents, some juice boxes (ahem, that was me being snarkily sarcastic and judgmental).
But what happened to good old plain water with meals? Why do we insist that kids like and will only consume cheesy noodles, sugary juices, buttered white bread and plain-microwaved breaded chicken in fun shapes? Ok the last one here isn’t such a mystery. Chicken nuggets are really delicious and Mickey Mouse ear chicken nuggets are definitely way more gangster than just boring round ones.
My point is, we’ve grown to assume and accept certain beliefs about the American kids diet and the consequences are dire and the impact lifelong.
I made this mistake with my older child and she’s now in real food rehab. Which is why I sometimes feel a need to raid the dusty bottle of Patron in the basement after mealtimes. Which I totally would have done if I weren’t so excited to get into bed at 8:45pm after putting the kids down.
Here’s my Real Food Rehab:
- Kids eat what adults eat at mealtime
- All family members sit down together to enjoy food and each others company
- No distractions (toys, phones, electronics, TV)
- Try-one-bite rule: If the child doesn’t like it, they do not have to eat more than one bite, but they must try at least one bite of the new dish
On this site, I share with you my journey to nourish my family, naturally. With real food and infinite love and the occasional chocolate candy bar.
Thank you for visiting and please let me know about your family and your experiences. I would love to connect and share war stories inspiration on helping our littles enjoy a healthy and naturally delicious food life.
– Kelly K