Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Lunches

There are good days and there are bad days as a mother.

There are days when I feel like I could be on the cover of Chatelaine magazine with my healthy, glowing, well-groomed children beaming beside me with "Mother of the Year" written underneath. Then there are the days when I feel certain I will one day be a guest on the Maury Povich show with my adult children toothless, unemployed and bitter, accusing me of ruining all of their lives.

Most days are in the no-man's land in between. I can watch Finny extend a compassionate arm to a classmate and pat myself on the back...and then two seconds later, grit my teeth as she yells at me from across a crowded playground to "get me something to eat before I starve to death". No please, no question words, no tenderness. Just bossing around the lazy, incompetent servant.

One single thing serves as a barometer of my daily successes and failures as a parent: the school lunch.

Some days, my children head off to school with balanced, nutritious and tasty meals lovingly prepared by my own hands. Those are the days (usually right after grocery shopping day) when the almond butter is organic and the whole wheat buns from Whole Foods were warmed up in the oven that morning. I pack the muffins I baked the afternoon before and they have flax seed in them. The unsweetened applesauce with cute, clean spoon from Daiso and a note from me wishing them the best sort of day. Every delectable element is in a reusable container, smug and planet-friendly. When I am done making their lunches, safely tucked into their bags (which contain completed homework and signed permission slips), the kitchen is tidy and my homemade latte is steaming beside the stove with the perfect sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

There are other days. Days when I am up only twenty minutes before we should be out the door to school. The pantry is bare. I separate the Ritz cracker crumbs into three ziploc bags. I throw in gummies. They are fruit that must be healthy. I send the granola bars that are basically just chocolate bars (and nasty ones at that) in shiny foil wrappers. I toast a four day old bagel that could easy break their teeth. I know full well as I jam all that stuff into their bags that they won't eat any of it (except the gummies and the chocolate...I mean, granola bar). I just need to know that if someone looks in their bags, they have food.

I am the same person. I have the same loving intent in my heart and yet...and yet...I guess John Denver said it best: "Some days are diamonds, some days are stones."

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