Hi, my name is Crazy Grad Mama, and I’m an insecure parent.
My latest mommy-guilt paranoia is about the food we pack for daycare. We’ve taken an adventurous but lackadaisical approach to introducing solid food, one that’s based on offering Little Boy spoonfuls of leftover spaghetti, bites of avocado, crusts of PB&J, and even a small sliver of pizza. At the time Little Boy started daycare, he’d been regularly eating one solid meal per day at dinnertime and was just starting on the concept of lunch. I figured sending him one bowlful of something for lunch (plus plenty of Cheerios for snack time) would be plenty to begin with. Applesauce one day, yogurt the next, maybe some puréed peas – I could handle this.
Except that after about a week, we were informed that he needed more food. It’s his teachers’ job to give us feedback on this, of course, but there are a range of approaches to saying, “Hey, you need to pack more food because your kid is getting hungry in the afternoon,” and, well, they didn’t really hit the right one. Cue me feeling like a crappy parent.
This also means coming up with twice as many packable baby meals per week. But there’s a reason I’m not usually the family cook, and that reason is the fact that I can barely muster up the mental energy to care about cooking (much less meal planning) on a regular basis.
Half of Little Boy’s current easy-prep menu turns out to be unsuitable for packing – avocados and bananas turn brown, peanut butter is an allergy no-no. He’s not far enough along in the art of self-feeding to assume that he’ll eat large quantities of finger food (indeed, his teachers report that he mostly plays with the Cheerios), so the random small bits of adult food we provide at home won’t be much good for satiating his hunger at daycare.
It’s starting to annoy my husband a little, I think. The increasingly desperate look on my face when I realize that we’re going to have to send Little Boy with yogurt and applesauce again. “His teachers are going to think we’re terrible parents,” I say. “We can’t send him with the same thing every day.”
Someday, I might look back on these times and laugh that I was so worried about something that seems so irrelevant in the long run. It’s not like I’m sending my kid to daycare with fried Twinkies and Pepsi. And it’s such an easy issue to solve, once we hit a weekend when I’m not feeling quite so sick. Fruits and vegetables are readily boiled / steamed / baked and puréed once you have them on hand.
The underlying insecurity, however, is not so easy to solve. I have a tendency to assume that people are thinking the worst, especially when it comes to my mothering. (For instance, I used to close the windows when Little Boy did tummy time, because he protested the indignity so strenuously that I worried others would hear the crying and be concerned.) Right now, it really matters to me that the daycare teachers think well of us. I don’t need to be the best at this, but I don’t want to be laughably far behind.