Monday, May 9, 2011

Shopping Schizophrenia

Janet here: I went grocery shopping yesterday and had a little epiphany: I'm schizophrenic. On the one hand, I buy organic veggies and fruits and organic, or at least antibiotic-free, chicken and cage-free/antibiotic-free eggs. And then I buy pound bags of peanut M&Ms, double stuffed Oreos and Doritos. Or some combination of the above.

What is up with that?

I blame my kids. (Hey, they blame me or their father for most of their "issues." Now it's my turn.) The treats, aka "bad" foods", are for them. Yes, maybe I occasionally have a few M&Ms or one of the homemade cookies I baked this afternoon for S's arrival home from his freshman year in college, but really these goodies are for them. It's a game we all happily (and complicitly) play: They're happy to have the goodies in place and openly acknowledge that, and I in turn feel good about providing them. It's all good.

Except that what it really means is that food becomes an emotional buffer, precisely the thing I planned to make sure NEVER happened once I became a parent.

I probably should have been stronger. More focused. Just better at the whole thing. But I was only as good as I could be at the time, and at the time, I was still struggling with "good" foods and "bad" foods myself, and so this is what we have: mostly good food available and some sugary bits thrown in besides.

It's an imperfect world. I take solace in the fact that I did not make my kids clean their plates and did not say — at least I don't think I said it — that they could have dessert if only they finished what was on their plates. These, too, were on my list of no-nos when I was deciding exactly the kind of parent I would become, you know right around age 16 when I was oh-so-smart and my parents were oh-so-stupid.

Anyway, that's the way I'm feeling as I write this. I'm not sure what I've done is wrong, but I'm also not sure I couldn't have done it better either. Mostly I feel it's been a bit of a muddle.

What do you think? Are you an all or nothing kind of parent? Or do you have a place you trade off the good with the bad regarding food?

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