As I stood in the checkout line I snuck a furtive glance at the items in front of mine. Organic fruit. Icelandic yogurt. Yeah, that guy was judging me.
I couldn’t believe I was doing this.
And not just any hot dogs. Warmed over, rubbery, “God knows how long they’ve been sitting under that weird orange light,” hot dogs.
One of my favorite shows, “Life in Pieces,” refers to the ones that have been under the lights for an unknown amount of time as “wizard fingers.”
I was about to feed my children wizard fingers.
The guilt poured over me as I tried not to lock eyes with Mr. Icelandic yogurt.
Don’t get me wrong. My kids don’t have “perfect” diets by any stretch of the imagination. And I never- let me stress this here- NEVER judge other parents, unless, you know, they don’t feed their kids at all. But we all try our best, and these- these wrinkled mystery meat wands enveloped in soggy buns- were clearly not my best.
I guess I should stop here and come clean.
Hi, I’m Cathy, and I’m a nutrition fanatic.
I get a strange tingling feeling when I order a pizza that’s both vegan AND gluten-free.
You won’t find a single hydrogenated oil or artificial color in my cabinets.
No glass of wine gives me as much warmth as a sale on coconut milk ice cream.
I’m a health nut. Probiotics and raw sugar and paraben-free shampoo make me happy.
Now you know.
So standing in line at the grocery store with four hot dogs that were neither filled with organic turkey nor nitrate-free was making me feel less than stellar. Especially as Mr. Icelandic yogurt started to peer curiously at them.
But you know what made me feel kinda stellar? What happened next.
After I had paid the cashier, driven to school, dragged myself into their classrooms, gathered their bags, took their hands, walked them to the car, strapped them in, turned on the engine, rubbed my eyes, and lamented the fact that I still had to sit in an hour of traffic before I could reunite with my couch…I heard this.
“WHOA! Hot Dogs?! We never get the ones in the cool wrappers! This is the best day ever!!!!”
I looked in the rearview mirror and saw them inhaling those wizard fingers like it was Christmas morning and they had gotten a trip to Disneyland.
My first thought was “Ok, so maybe I need to show them a donut or some fried chicken from time to time.”
My second thought? Sometimes they can eat wrinkly re-warmed hot dogs. It’s fine.
Sometimes I make macaroni and cheese from scratch. Sometimes it’s out of a box.
Sometimes their “on the way home” car snack is a little container of organic fruit, some multigrain crackers with almond butter, and reduced-sugar coconut milk.
Sometimes it’s a bag of chips and a juice box.
Sometimes I snuggle in bed with my son, read him four books, kiss his little forehead, tuck him in, and think about how blessed I am to have created such an amazingly sweet little person.
Sometimes I shriek, “GET BACK IN BED!” after that sweet little person wanders out of his bedroom for the 87th time asking for “just a bit more blanket on my shoulders.”
Sometimes I cradle my daughter in my arms and gaze into her eyes with pure love and adoration.
Sometimes I hand her to her father and hide in the bathroom.
Sometimes I cruise into work, leave on time, and have hours to make a nutritious meal, play educational board games, give warm bubble baths, and wander out of their rooms whispering, “I love you allll the way to the moon and back,” as I gently switch off the light.
Sometimes I work so late that I know we’ll never make it home in time for dinner, and I have to grab whatever small, handheld food I can find at the store next to the daycare center, because it’s either that or passing an entire rotisserie chicken into the back seat of my truck.
It’s never perfect. It’s not meant to be. But amidst all the rush and the chaos and the stress, there are usually these little people looking up at you….and somehow, they’re so happy. They’re happy with organic strawberries and they’re happy with tortilla chips. They’re happy with seven books and they’re happy with one book. They’re happy with an hour-long bubble bath and they’re happy with the occasional washcloth wipe-down because there’s just no time left in the day (you’re laughing because you’ve done it. Don’t pretend you’re above the wipe-down).
Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad and sometimes it’s completely insane….and sometimes it’s four wizard dogs and one curious glance from the guy in front of you.
But you know what it usually is? Just fine. It’s usually juuuust fine.
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