Thursday, January 27, 2011

How to Make an Incompetent Mommy

There is one activity that inevitably makes me feel like an incompetent and inadequate mother. Every. Single. Time. What, you ask? Two words--Grocery Shopping. For so many reasons, grocery shopping is starting to make me crazy. A few years ago, I liked grocery shopping. Back when I was first on my own, grocery shopping was fun and exciting. Even if my normal menu wasn't exciting, it always had the potential to be. I could buy what I wanted, cook what I wanted, and experiment on myself without fear. I was less concerned about purely healthy foods and just made what made sense for me. Once I was cooking for two, it became a little more complicated. Craig doesn't like a lot of vegetables, which takes away some options for stir-fries and things like that. We can only eat so much broccoli and corn, you know? But still, I think over the past nine-plus years that we've been together we've managed to eat relatively well. Lacking in vegetables and stuff, but the food has been good and relatively healthy.

Once Jacob started eating real food, I got a little crazy. I didn't want to put any crap into his perfect little body, so I tried to avoid junk food. I tried to keep things as simple as possible. But I've slacked over time...not badly, but more than I would like. I read things here and there about stuff that people feed their kids. One blogger in particular gives her kid everything...to the point that I can't even believe he'll eat it. Sardines?! Yeah. I've always tried offering Jacob whatever we're eating, but even the most simple stuff he won't touch...hamburger, potatoes, pierogies, even chicken at times. He'll usually eat broccoli or corn like his father, and actually likes tomatoes, too, but he's so hit and miss on things that it's hard to know what's going to work-for me, for him, or for Craig. Jacob's menu usually floats between PB&J, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, spaghetti, noodles, cheese, and assorted fruit and snacks. It's ok and probably better than some kids, but it's just not that wholesome. I'm running out of ideas.

So why does shopping turn me into an incompetent mother? Well, it's a two-pronged problem. On one hand, I wander around the store wishing I could try new things, but knowing that the two picky eaters in the house won't go for it. I wander past the produce, longing to eat the vegetables. I stare down the meat, but don't know how to cook it. All the while, I'm looking at an eternal supply of processed foods. I pass by the worst of them without a problem, but usually end up settling on a few of them that make my life easier...pasta side dishes, frozen veggies with light sauces, frozen meals for lunch and dinner, pre-cooked chicken strips, and other similar products. I can't afford organic, and am more confused than ever when it comes to the pros and cons of reduced fat/sugar/calorie products that might make me skinny on one hand but screw me up in a different way with chemicals or unnatural additives. I feel like I'm feeding Jacob a bunch of crap, and I'm not doing Craig or myself any favors with our weight loss goals. It could be worse, but each trip to the store is a grim reminder that it's not as good as it should be.

On the other hand, going to the store with Jacob is almost always a disaster. He used to be really great at the store. He'd sit in the cart contentedly, enjoying the ride. Now he screams, sings loudly, kicks off his shoes, hits me, kicks me, tries to suck on the shopping cart, grabs things on the shelves, and begs to get down, go home, get a drink, etc. I've decided that I need to stop letting him have his free Wegmans Kids' Club cookie when we go, because it seems he's that much worse when he eats one. Instead I'll listen to him complain that he wants one, but it's worth a shot. And when he's so out of control, what recourse do I have? If I'm there in the first place I'm most likely in no position to walk out of the store like the experts suggest. I'm not going to spank him in the middle of the store, and there's really no way to do a timeout. Threatening to take away toys at home doesn't work. I can't yell. As a result I have to stay relatively calm, which you'd think would keep him calm, but no such luck. It's brutal.

Last night was a prime example. Often we have to go grocery shopping on our way home from daycare pickup, and it always leads to a later dinner. Still, Jacob isn't a generally hungry kid, so that usually isn't a problem. But inevitably he turns into the most frustrating shopping partner, and we're usually there far longer than I'd like to be, partly because I'm spending time putting Jacob's boots back on for the third time or running back to move the cart before he grabs something from the shelves. I have to shush his screams or take extra time to read labels because he breaks my concentration. People probably watch me try to control him and just shake their heads. I feel like I have no control, and it turns me into someone I don't even like. It just bugs me to no end. We need to be there, and I've always been trying to get Jacob used to mundane tasks like that so he can do them without incident. But almost every time, it's a mess.

I wish this post had a happy ending with lists of new foods we can try or new tactics for controlling him, but right now I don't have that. I can hope that the cookie is the difference, but that's unfortunate in and of itself. What more can I do? Try, try again.

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