I consider myself a pretty good mama.
My kids are alive at the end of the day. Their tummies are full, their butts are clean, and they are all up-to-date on their shots. It probably intimidates the other moms, that my kids are smelling fresh and ending the cycle of communicable diseases, but I can’t help it. I’m just knocking this parenting thing out of the park right now.
I’m basically Supermom. Scratch that. Batmom.
But I’d be lying if I said my parenting style hasn’t relaxed just a tiny bit since Second Baby arrived. I was warned this would happen. Everyone was all “Just wait, Mary Katherine,” but I rolled my eyes because, duh, I was going to be different! Other moms may have loosened up with their second babies, but not me! Second Baby was gonna get First Baby treatment, and that was that. I dug my heels in. There would be photo albums of pictures! Sleeping through the night! Plates full of veggies!
Alas. One year later.
First Kid had monthly pictures in a special chair to chart every inch of growth. Second Baby doesn’t even have a chair. First kid had a themed 1st birthday party, complete with smash cake and a million family members from out of town. Second Baby got a Twinkie in her high chair when grandma came to visit. First Kid ate homemade baby food, blended at room temperature to preserve the nutrients and colors. He ate squash, apple, snap peas, hummus, guacamole, pretty much all the things. He was a tiny foodie, and his diet was as colorful as a rainbow.
Well, Second Baby eats bread and cheese.
Before you freak out, I’m trying here. It’s just, we have eight-zillion things to do during the day, and taking 30 minutes to shove spoonfuls of boiled carrot down the gullet of a lockjawed infant is getting lower and lower on my priority list. And it’s not like she has zero variety in her diet. Second Baby eats a broad assortment…of carbs and dairy. For breakfast, there’s raisin toast and mozzarella string cheese. For lunch, cheese crackers and juice. And for dinner? Pizza! Which is Italian, I will remind you. The kid might be carb-loading, but she’s very cultured.
I started with the best intentions. I had my food processor and my butternut squash ready to go, but then Second Baby arrived, laughed in my face, and said “Yaaaah, no. I’ll take a Cheez-It.” Those little unicorn babies who nosh on whole-stemmed broccoli and cut up bell peppers are my life’s envy. The only way I could make that happen is with a veggie-shaped cookie cutter and a slice of cheese toast.
And I’ve tried.
Lord, how I’ve tried.
I’ve cooked all the things! Fettucini alfredo with chicken and peas? She eats the noodles. Bread and cheese. Shrimp chopped Caesar salad? She eats the croutons and the parmesan. Bread and cheese. A full English breakfast? Yep. Bread and cheese.
And when all else failed, I took Second Baby to the pediatrician, where I was pretty sure Batmom status was officially up for removal. The appointment was going well. My little girl was thriving and knocking out milestones like a prizefighter (her words, not mine). She was, for all intents and purposes, a walking, talking wonder. A baby genius (my words, not hers).
Which gave me the confidence to breach the whole bread and cheese thing.
“So, doc, I am just a little concerned that we aren’t able to get many vegetables in this baby.”
“Oh? What’s she eating?”
“Well, a lot of things. You know. Crackers…cheese…toast…cheese…toast…bread…cheese…pizza.”
Doctor paused with the stethoscope and laughed a little.
“Well, I doubt she’s gonna eat that way in college, so I wouldn’t worry too much. Just try to add some color to her diet. Keep trying. If it’s still a problem next year, we will worry about it.”
Just add some color to her diet.
Simple enough, right? I headed to the grocery store, a mama on a mission, convinced that this was the day Second Baby was gonna step up her palette and graduate to greens. We strolled through the produce section, loading up the cart.
Apples, squash, peas, green beans, kale chips. Second Baby was about to get the First Baby treatment. Back home we went, where pots, pans, and food processors were released from captivity. Second Baby went into the high chair, where she playfully patted her plate. Dinnertime!
Get excited, Second Baby. Today is the day.
When my husband strolled through the door with our oldest son, the kitchen looked like the aftermath of a Chopped episode.
“Uh, honey? What’s for dinner?”
“Oh, this is for the baby,” I said, slicing up another squash. “We need to get more color in her diet.”
I casually tossed a carrot onto the high chair tray. Baby picked it up, made vomit-emoji face, and tossed it to the side.
I put a pea on the tray. Vomit emoji. Broccoli. Vomit emoji. Butternut squash. Vomit emoji.
“I just don’t know what to do!” I huffed in frustration. “Why won’t she just eat more colors?”
And in that moment, my 3-year-old son marched across the kitchen with a smile on his face. There was a half-open bag in his hands. He tossed the colorful bounty onto the high chair tray, and said “Look, Mommy! Holland loves colorful food!”
The baby smiled ear to ear, picked up her first bite, and crunched happily away. It’s a little unconventional, sure, but I’m counting it as a W.
We finally got some color in her diet, after all.