I hate feeding my kids. Plain and simple.
The hardest part of having a newborn isn't changing diapers, doing a dozen loads of laundry daily or even recovering from pushing a rhinoceros out a hole the size of a ladybug. The hardest part of having a newborn is feeding it every two hours. Whether from breast or bottle, a parent's top priority is increasing the infant's weight while decreasing the frequency with which he or she eats (and amassing Instagram likes for the #CutestBabyEver.)
A year or so later, after the child has had a completely over-the-top, put-Martha-Stewart-to-shame birthday party it will never remember, you've got a toddler. Congratulations! Hopefully you are well on your way toward getting enough consecutive hours of sleep to ward off bags under your eyes like the bags you fill on every single Target run.
The problem is, feeding a toddler is just as much of a bitch as feeding a newborn. Not only are they picky but getting more food in their mouth than you do on the floor (table, wall or new couch) is harder than winning an Olympic gold in synchronized swimming.
The parent of a growing toddler must be fully armed at all times with heavy weapons such as Cheerios, Multi Grain Cheerios, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios (for those proven allergy free). Back up rounds of bottles, juice boxes and Sippy cups that never leak unless they are in your nicest handbag are also a necessity.
Next comes the terrifying transition from crib to big kid bed, which is sure to set the sleep back a bit, but pales in comparison to the challenge of cleaning Goldfish out of your minivan while trying to decipher all the rules for packing a preschooler's lunch. No tree nuts. No nut products. No juice. No items that have sugar as one of the top three ingredients. No garbage to be discarded at school. This is also the only time in the child's life thus far that sharing is strictly prohibited.
(I should add that while I have no problem abiding by these rules, especially those connected to food allergies, they are still incredibly annoying.)
Moving on to elementary school, the list of no-no's doesn't get any smaller but the belly definitely gets a bit larger. Tack on the desire and responsibility to pack a healthy, well-balanced meal that isn't the exact same thing everyday and school lunches become the bane of parenting existence. (In fact, so does dishwashing because tiny little Tupperware containers were created to drive parents crazy and broke.)
No matter how many snack and lunch options are perfectly packed into a freshly clean lunchbox, elementary aged kids undoubtedly leave school starving. For this reason, keeping a stash of non-perishables in the car is key so kids can refuel before heading off whatever afternoon activity they've chosen to build their appetite back up again before dinner.
Oh my God! Dinner!
Though the only rules that apply to dinner are your own, the meal does not come without it's own challenges. Planning, cooking and cleaning aside, there's "you've eaten this item a million times before and suddenly you are repulsed by it." There's "I know you cooked this beautiful 3 course meal for our family but I only eat thin crust cheese pizza at room temperature." And then there's my personal favorite, "I'm not hungry right now but I am going to be as soon as you finish washing that mound of disgusting dishes."
The bottom line is that feeding children of any age is difficult. Each of our children is beautiful in their own unique little way. Some have allergies, others are incredibly finicky and many are creatures of diehard habit. No matter their individual appetite, keep in mind that the choice to eat (or not) is one of their first made freely, one of their first forms of expression, one of their first ways to feed their growing soul. For that reason, no matter how much I hate it, I will bend over backwards to feed my children well... and be thankful that I have the means to do so.
I gotta run.