Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kids and Food and the Humbling Effects of Motherhood

I don't like research that tells me that raising healthy happy kids is simple and that I'm, kind of, a bad parent or maybe just a jackass.

It might just be me -- being overly sensitive -- but that's kind of how I felt after I read this piece on which explains how the baby's palate is informed in the womb and breastfeeding by the variety of foods the mother eats. I've heard this before. It gives the impression that to grow a healthy eater who has a wide variety of foods the child is drawn to is simple! Eat a wide variety of healthy foods while pregnant and nursing! Don't be a jackass, the research seems to say. Eat well and your child will want to eat well! It's simple science.

Now, if I only had one child, I'd be an incredibly cocky overbearing mother -- the kind who knows everything and shoves it onto others at every possible opportunity. Motherhood eventually (usually) knocks the cockiness out of you. (Is this by design?) Or at least I've found motherhood to be very humbling, personally.

But if I had only one child -- in fact, my first child -- I would agree, wholeheartedly, with this article. I would go so far as to make comments like, "If you put carrots and fresh raspberries on the table, the child will eat them! It's that simple!" And I might even beam -- I might even have one of those sparkles in my teeth like in those Orbit gum commercials.

Alas, I didn't stop at one child -- who is, for reasons unknown, a natural fruits and vegetables eater. I had to go on and have a second (then third and fourth). My second kid, a son, only wants to eat meats and salty foods. He hates not only the taste but texture of most fruits and vegetables. He will eat broccoli and apples and salad willingly - well, it takes goading, but he'll do it (and this after YEARS of nudging).

Then just in case someone thought it was a gender thing, my third, also a boy, will eat anything at all -- spicy, sweet, salty, meat-fatty, the vegie plate, fruits, garlic, sour, cheesy ... Bring it. On a recent breakfast outing with my father, I made him swear not to eat the scrapple -- no matter how much my father talked it up. He's eaten some very exquisite meals and fried bologna.

The youngest is picky but he'll eat in a spotty way across the board -- some fruits not others, some meats not others ... He's a finely tuned intestinal maestro all his own.

And I ate and ate and ate through my pregnancies -- foods that I liked, foods that comforted me, foods of my homeland, foods of foreign lands ... I was fairly consistent as was my amniotic fluid and breastmilk (I breastfed for years of my life). So, how you like them apples?

Dear science, I just think you're overstepping. No offense, but you seem like one of those cocky mothers with one kid who packs raw carrot sticks in wax paper in your baby bag and meets up with everyone at a playgroup and has your kid eat those carrot sticks in front of all the other mothers whose kids slap carrot sticks, gag on the slimy textures, and cry so hard they throw up the tiniest little slivers that managed to slip in. In other words, shut up.