On Pringles, My Kids, And General Mom-crying

PROLOGUE (skip this if you just want the current story) I spent a good portion of the evening crying last night. Meh. It happens. I think everything just finally piled up and all the stress had to go somewhere. It was either tears, or eat an entire pint of chocolate peanut butter ice cream. If we’d had chocolate peanut butter ice cream in the house, I probably would’ve gone that way.

First off, we have to go back a little bit. I haven’t had a real vacation of relaxing and recharging since I left my marriage. So that’s over two years. I had two trips to New York. One I took my niece to and developed a tooth infection and needed a root canal. And the other I went there to pitch my 4th novel. They were fun trips, but not relaxing.

If you go back further, then I haven’t had a vacation since being pregnant with Louis. So…almost seven years. (Although why I would need a vacation when I didn’t have kids, I can’t quite figure out. What do childless people do with all their time? Don’t take offense. I just mean I’ve forgotten what life was PreKids.)

Keep in mind that I’ve been working my butt off since having kids, but particularly these last two years where I managed to start over from nearly nothing….except $600 from my ex and a couple of narration pay checks in the mail. Over these last two years, I’ve started teaching full time at a college (they just renewed my contract for a third year), bought a house, written two books, found daycare for the kids, tended them, nurtured them…and re-met and fell in love with a great guy. I’ve accomplished a lot.

THE CURRENT STORY

I’ve also realized (especially over the last month) there’s only so long that you can keep running before you collapse. I’m not collapsing, but I am exhausted.

It makes the conversations I’ve had with my ex and his wife this week that much harder to bear.

Now, I’m not attacking them. I try really hard to empathize with their perspective and choices, and I usually do a good job. But my ex called me shocked to hear that I had given our son Pringles.

Pringles.

He’s upset because I shouldn’t give the kids processed food and he doesn’t want them to be overweight and the food industry is manipulative and controlling and I should know better than to give toxins to our children especially when they have allergies.

Yes. I admit, in times of weakness, I let the kids have snacks. I don’t have time anymore to cook everything from scratch. When I was a stay-at-home mom and in a marriage that was ultimately too controlling and confining, I cooked EVERYTHING. From homemade bread, to snack crackers, to roasts, to whipped cream. If I could’ve milked the cow, I would’ve.

I’ve since learned that life is about balance. While I try to encourage my kids to make healthy choices, I also don’t want to control their diet so fiercely that they’re terrified of gaining too much weight or they eat a diet that is so bland (and free of salt, fat, and wheat products) that when they get out into the ‘real world’ they go crazy. I also need to balance out my own time. I can’t cook everything anymore. Not when I’m working two jobs (teaching and narrating), writing, exercising, and trying to stay sane.

Sometimes the kids get PRINGLES. I’ve also given them GUMMIE BEARS. This week for dessert, they had SMORES. I have, on occasion, taken them to MCDONALDS.

I don’t think I’m an evil person for doing this. I think I’m a normal working mom who is doing the best for her kids. I make mistakes, but it’s not out of neglect. I also want the kids to know that life is about balance. If you have a treat some time, then be a little more active and eat some more fruits and veggies.

You know my kids’ favorite meal? It isn’t McDonalds. I haven’t ruined their palates forever. In fact, I’m shaping their palates to be pretty discerning and appreciative. Their current favorite meal is homemade chicken strips with panko and sesame seeds, edamame, and Chinese noodles.  I’m proud of that…and I’m proud of the way I’m raising my kids.

There’s more to this story though…the other part of the crying fit had to do with allergies, our cats, and trying to make a decision that’s right for my kids and our family…all while being pummeled and criticized for being a selfish parent.

Trust me. I’m not a selfish parent. I love my kids deeply and I’ve done everything I can to give them a loving, stable life. I do the best I can.

Thankfully, in two more weeks, I’m taking a real vacation. No kids. No teaching. No narrating. Just time to recharge and reassess. And possible, quite possibly, eat some PRINGLES. I like the sour cream and onion ones the best.