“That’s a healthy lunch.” If sarcasm were a machete, she’d just taken off my head like Mishonne does to zombies in The Walking Dead.
Out of breath and downright thrilled that I’d managed to pull off getting an edible lunch to my kid before afterschool pick up- I didn’t realize what had just happened until I was driving home. #lunchboxshaming. For real. It’s a thing. I haven’t googled it, due to PTID from that time I googled that one word. (Post Tramatic Internets Disorder- usually caused by a mom searching for a totally innocuous term only to stumble upon a virtual booby trap* of cookies, spam and or porn.) *you’re welcome for the pun. We’ll call that a gift with purchase, special today only.
Even without Google, I can assure you it exists. I’ve been both victim and perpetrator of the crime.
20 years ago, those sarcasm laden words would have brought me to tears. As a young mom, I’d have taken her criticism as evidence of my total failure at mothering. 7 years ago? I’d have been talking smack about me as a slacker mom with her as soon as I’d hit the door. I was in the middle of a locavorganic phase. On a mission to stamp out Big agri, Monsanto and all foods processed and otherwise tainted. It’s possible I was reading too much. Been there. Judged that. (Still not a fan of any of the above.)
Last week? I got angry.
Because, really? You’re gonna shame and judge my lunchbox packing?
Apparently, yes. And I’m not the only victim. (Or, perpertrator.)
Where was she when my kid was using Clementines in the classroom like a commodities broker? If it would have fit into his lunchbox I’m pretty sure he could have “traded up” his lunch to a Lexxus. The kid has skills. Thus far- no Lexxus. Mostly- I just find tell-tale evidence of up-traded Ho-Ho wrappers in there. Bummer.
I’m also not sure where she was when I lectured and kept packing those “healthy” but not bento-box crazy lunches as a test of wills. (Sorry Bento-moms, the truth is: I judge you because I’m jealous that your kid will eat sushi or a facsimile there of, for lunch. Mine would rather starve.)
She also missed the days when I packed those healthy lunches only to find them turned in as science fair projects about locker-composting or just plain thrown out because he refused to eat them. (Truth: some kids will not eat green eggs and ham. Or veggies and hummus, or sushi, or homemade granola. They will trash it or trade it in for ho-hos when you/re not looking. Kids are evil and tricky like that.)
Th guilt over the amount of food my kid has wasted haunts me like those videos of starving children. (And No- sending them your kid’s rotten lunch doesn’t help end poverty. Send $ to Compassion International, Samaratan’s Purse or The American Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders to a difference in poverty. Rotten lunch? Not so much.)
Since no one wants those rotten healthy lunches, I quit. I stopped fighting the lunch battle. I started packing lunches my kid will actually eat. Which happens to be: Lunchables. *Gasp. I know. So far he’s still growing and alive and testing well in the IQ department. Who knew?
I do add a guilt offering of fruit and yogurt. (Okay- sometimes Gogurt. Does go-gurt even count anymore? I do not make homemade yogurt, I’m truly afraid of what would grow if left to “culture” in my kitchen. Just sayin.) The truth is- my kid would prefer peanut butter and home made jam on whole wheat bread….However, there’s a nut allergy in his classroom, and while I’m a slacker- I prefer not to kill other people’s children. Since he’s a picky eater, my options are limited, if I actually want him to eat. Which is the goal of lunch.
I COULD take the time to cut up organic nitrate free cold cuts and cheese and add crackers etc. I COULD go all pinterest on my kid and embarrass him with my wicked lunch packing skills. (At 13 the very idea of my breathing is sometimes embarrassing to him. Parental Humiliation- totally side effect of puberty. Go ahead- google that.) But really? It would just be to avoid lunchbox shaming. It wouldn’t be for my kid.
Here’s the thing: lunches are probably 20% of my kid’s daily caloric intake. If the other 80% are reasonably healthy, why would I bother?
My husband has cancer. I work from home. My husband travels when he’s well enough. I have 2 college aged kids I’d prefer to have a conversation with, rather than spend my time making lunches that will be thrown out even IF I threaten my child with hellfire and damnation. (Tried that, too. Didn’t work.) To say my time and energy are limited is possibly the understatement of the year. Add to that my own health issues, aging parents and: laundry and well… maybe lunchables aren’t so bad. I’m not the only busy mom with limited resources. We all are!
Maybe, a Lunchable is good enough. Maybe, I’m picking and choosing my battles. Maybe, I’m not a slacker after all. Maybe-I’m doing the best I can.
Maybe the mom sending PBJ everday, is too. And the mom who sends McDonald’s because it’s what she can pack up between shift work and is happy she can send that. Quite possibly- so is the mom who’s lunchbox skills and kid’s palate agree with amazing pin-worthy lunches.
What if we stopped lunchbox shaming- both direct and implied? What if we assumed each mom is doing her best and let her parent the way she’s uniquely created and called in this season? What if there’s more to the story than the 20% (or less) that we’re judging each other by? What if we were guilt free to pack what our kids will eat without fear of judgment or waste?
I think we just might find out, we’re not alone. We just might learn that picky eaters rarely die of scurvy. Kid’s tastes change. We might be able to use wasted energy on things that really matter. Like: talking. Like, listening. Like playing Zombie Dice and getting your momma- backside handed to you by a 13 year old…..beause you didn’t spend the whole evening arguing about his wasted lunch.
I choose that.
So dear mom- reading this- today. If you packed a lunchable? I applaud you. If you packed an amazing bento-box lunch? Kudos to you. If you had your kid pack his own lunch? Good for you. If you threw random foods towards your kid on the way to the bus stop before work because it was the best you can do? Amen. If your kid has the exact same lunch he/she always has because- THAT IS the way they can manage getting through their day? Good job.
As for me? I got no shame in my lunchbox game. At 11:25 this morning, I dropped off a perfectly fine lunchable with the traditional guilt offerings AKA: commodities for trading -for my kid. It’s good enough. I have no clue what he’ll actually be eating for lunch. Regardless- he will be hungry when he gets home. He always is.
Bonus round:If you want to avoid the whole lunchbox shaming thing…NEVER pack your kid’s lunch in a giant ziploc. Lesson Learned. And let’s not even start with how I should be using washable sandwich bags….#greenenough this momma needs some sanity. THAT would put me right over the line to crazyville. I do enough laundry.