As you will soon hear about, breastfeeding was a horrible experience for me. So the whole obligation of feeding another human started off rough for me from the very beginning. Once I gave up nursing with Number 1, all went pretty well until Number 2 rolled up on us. He was picky, irritable, and screamed through every meal. He had to be spoon fed way after he should have been spoon fed. Really, if we want to make sure he gets enough food, we still are spoon feeding him at the age of three. It got to a point when he was a baby that I would just feed him as quickly as I could before the rest of us had dinner so that I could get him in the swing or in front of a show, ANY show that would keep his attention, so that we could at least hear each other at the table. As he got a bit older and couldn’t be pushed off to the side any longer, he had to join us at the table. From 2 years old to the present I do not know how he has grown. He never really eats. Every meal is a dreadful battle to the finish. Usually ending with him the victor and Truthful Mommy the incapable loser. It becomes a game for them I think. They see us get to our wits end and they think it is funny. Maybe it is just a great way for my middle man to get some more attention. We once butted heads for 2 hours over eating a pancake drenched in syrup!! What child won’t eat that? And what mommy MAKES their child eat that?? He was impossible. Truthful daddy didn’t make it any more enjoyable. My solution was to teach him to make his own choices. If he chooses not to eat, he will eventually be hungry. No snacking, no treats, no nothing if he can’t eat his meal. I was just sure he wouldn’t do that more than a few times! Boy was I wrong!! The Husband’s thought was “when he wakes up in the middle of the night starving, it will be our problem!” When we were instructed by his pediatrician to stop letting him ruin the meal for us, it was as hard for the Husband to stop his dinner routine of nagging Number 2 through the entire meal as it was for Number 2 to learn how to act and eat at the dinner table. Still we continue to find the balance at 3 years of age, but it is better.
Number 3 came to be in our world and he was an angel. He was a great eater from day one! Easy breezy. Then one day, someone snuck into his room, switched out our angel with this other, equally cute, baby and NOW he is the dinner villain. The pride of his new ability to pick up his own food has been replaced with a “how dare you make me feed myself” attitude. I have THREE kids people. I cannot and will not spoon-feed all of them, especially when they have already shown their cards and I know they can do it by themselves! I now have a full realization of how mommies of multiple kids get skinny. They don’t get a chance to eat. Number 3 not only throws his food on the ground, he launches it at the rest of the family. It would not be uncommon to catch a glimpse into our window at any point during dinner and see Number 1 falling out of her chair because she is the wiggle worm, Number 2 blowing bubbles in his milk because he would definitely not be eating or using good table manners, Number 3 launching his fork across the table at Number 2, Daddy pointing his finger intensely at any one of them to get them to behave, and the Truthful Mommy crying, staring right back at you out the window and sipping a glass of wine. All of that happening at the same time.
You can be sure, we say grace before every meal. BUT, prior to meeting the gang around the table, I feel certain that the Husband and I should be standing together in the kitchen and praying for some sanity to meet us at the dinner table.
Sometimes, in the midst of the not-controlled-choas, I look defeated-ly into the Husbands eyes and say “welcome home honey.” Sometimes I don’t look at anyone, I just wail sarcastically “thanks a lot for another lovely meal!!!” And stomp upstairs to my bathtub escape. The reaction from me is dictated by lots of factors…what sip of wine am I on, what decibel have we reached, how much food hit the floor, how many times did I hear “I don’t yike this food”….just to name a few.
I know, right now so many of you are wanting to give me advice on how you keep your angels so compliant at the table, and how you get them to clean their plate. And by all means, if you have 3 or more children then throw them at me, but I assure you, I have tried them all. Most recently we did the timer scheme where we have 15 minutes of silent dinner. When only mommy and daddy can speak. For some reason, at 15 months, Number 3 does not understand this concept. Alas, we try. Our biggest problem is that we
can’t don’t stick with anything long enough for it to take. It either begins to feel hopeless or it becomes too much work. However, I soldier through. I prepare a healthy dinner…and only one. I put food on the table for us to eat as a family, because in the end that is the most important thing. Especially to the Wonderful Husband. I hold out hope that this family mealtime routine will one day be the most precious time of the day for us; a time to catch up on the lives of our children and to laugh together about what torture mealtime used to be.
For those of you that are my friends and have wondered why the Truthful Mommy doesn’t entertain you anymore. Now you know. I used to thrive on dinner parties, having company, and impromptu gatherings. I feel certain that it will all return again someday. But for now, I wouldn’t subject anyone to any form of chow time at my house!!!
The Truthful Husband was out of town tonight; we had popcorn and hot cocoa and we didn’t sit at the table. It was lovely.