If there is one thing that defines my parenting style it is good intentions. When I wake up in the morning, I am filled with twinkly eyed optimism that today will be the day that I cross off everything on my to-do list. Today will be the day I clean the bathroom and organize the fridge. Today will be the day that I make the long overdue dentist appointment. Today will be the day I figure out Mary Poppins-esque momming and don’t yell at my kids at all — not even once.
I begin the day with good intentions that today will be the day I make healthy and delicious meals for my family. They will be wowed with my Julia Child-like prowess in the kitchen. They will suggest that I sign up to compete on Chopped. They will shower me with praise for the delectable and wholesome meal I prepared with my own loving hands. Heck, I’ll even make a double batch of that scrumptious meal for lunches the next day.
Then reality sets in, and the good intentions crumble faster than Taylor Swift’s latest romance. Good intentions become hopes, which quickly turn into pipe dreams. At some point during the day, I can almost see the fucks flying out the window because there is no freaking way I am making a homemade anything. Nope, nope, nopety, nope. Not gonna happen. Here are just a few signs it’s going to be a fast food for dinner kind of day:
1. All of the veggies in the crisper drawer are swimming in their own excrement.
I may have planned to make a pseudo-healthy meal that involved rice, chickpeas, and kale. And by “chickpeas and kale,” I mean baby carrots and apple slices. But everything in the crisper drawer is swimming in a liquid of rotten nastiness.
2. A new Happy Meal toy came out.
A trip through the drive-thru is a small price to pay to end the incessant whining to get the latest cheap plastic toy that will eventually end up lost in the backseat of our minivan.
3. No one wants Mom to get hangry.
It’s 5 p.m. and my stomach is growling something fierce. In fact, it sounds like my stomach has been taken over by demons and it’s speaking in tongues. Need. Carbs. Now.
4. A tantrum derailed my grocery shopping.
I went into the store planning to get a few things for dinner and instead left with a screaming child who is pissed because he can’t lick all of the apples.
5. I cooked three nights ago.
And I’m still exhausted.
6. We’ve got an easy breezy vibe going on.
No one wants to ruin that with something like making dinner. Maybe we spent the day at the museum, the beach, or the zoo. Or maybe it’s been a relatively whine-free day, and we’re all feeling a little euphoric. No one wants to ruin that kind of bliss with complaints about “stinky food.”
7. I’ve done enough adulting for one day.
I got out of bed. I showered. I even paid a few bills and drove my kids around town. That’s about all the adulting I can muster for the day.
8. There is a fine line between “charred” and “burned to hell.”
We have crossed that line.
9. One word: drive-thru.
Going to the grocery store requires getting out of the car. It requires wearing real pants. It requires taking my children through the aisles and saying “nope” approximately 792 times to their whiny requests for cereal that is basically sugar in a box.
10. You need to actually be home to cook dinner.
Some days I practically live in my minivan, shuffling kids from one activity to the next. So until Honda figures out a way to install a microwave, oven, or crockpot in the next Odyssey, dinner probably isn’t happening tonight.
11. Restaurant-endorsed iPads don’t count as screen time.
What’s a mom to do when the kids have burned through their allotted screen time by 10 a.m.? Make a trip to one of those chain restaurants with tablets at the table, of course! It doesn’t count as screen time when it’s not technically your screen, right?
12. The indoor play area kind of counts as a park.
There are slides and climbing walls. The kids can burn off energy while you scroll through Facebook. You can almost forget about the rotavirus and flu germs swimming in the ball pit. Heck, it’s almost like an afternoon at the park. Almost.
13. My stupid crockpot hasn’t figured out how to turn itself on yet.
I cut a few vegetables, poured in a box of rice, and some vegetable broth. I followed the directions to a T. Well, all except for the part in the recipe when it said to turn the crock pot on.
14. I’m making good on a promise.
And by “promise,” I mean bribe. This morning I told my kids if they didn’t kill each other, we’d go to McDonald’s, and since they’re still breathing, it looks like it will be a Happy Meal kind of night.
15. Last time I checked, you couldn’t make a meal out of coffee, flour, and butter.
Which is all we have in our fridge and pantry right now.
16. It’s Friday.
Doesn’t TGIF stand for Thank God It’s Fast Food?
Yes, I try to instill healthy eating habits in my kids and feed my family well-balanced, home-cooked meals. I have the best of intentions, but sometimes life gets in the way. Some days I plan healthy meals for my family. And some days we go through the McDonald’s drive-thru, and I binge on frozen Kit-Kats in the closet.
Some might call it balance. I call it parenting is hard.
And there’s always tomorrow.