I read an article, a story, a something recently, and it was just so poignant, it stuck with me.
It was a woman recounting a memory from her childhood. She reminisced about the special nights she had enjoyed with her single mom. What she remembered most were the evenings they ate together, when her food was sliced into tiny, tiny pieces. They would sit on the floor eating hot dog and chicken nugget bites, just the two of them. When she shared this memory, her mom was shocked at her retelling of those nights, as she recalled them too, but for a different reason. Those were the nights she had thought she had failed as a mother. She was so tired by the end of the day, working two jobs to support them, that she didn’t have the energy to cook. So she opened the refrigerator, found what they had, warmed it, cut it, and sat down with her daughter to finally get off her feet.
This is such an important reminder. In this day and age with social media as our dictator, we see our friends cooking their kids kale and quinoa and colorful plates of beautiful gourmet food, that in a million years I wouldn’t even consider whipping together. So from time to time, I question my abilities as a mother. “I can’t even feed my kid well. I’m failing her.” And yes, the pictures present well on Facebook, and yeah, maybe the kid is getting the nutrients they need. But, reality check, I will never be able to do that. And guess what? What the kids remember aren’t those meals.
Earlier this week, Nathan was stuck late at work. The plan had been for him to cook dinner, as he does, but now it was up to me to prepare something. Lacking the cooking gene, I asked Harper what she would like, listing off the things in our freezer. She opened the cereal cabinet and said, “cereal, with Mommy. Sit on the floor, with a mommy bowl and a mommy spoon.”
You see, there was a night a few weeks ago where I just couldn’t deal, couldn’t function, couldn’t manage, and the easiest, most possible thing for me to do, was feed us cereal on the kitchen floor. And this 2 1/2 year old’s tiny brain, even now, a few weeks later, remembered that night, that memory, and wanted to share it again with me. It made me realize what’s important. What really matters. And that’s the special time we get to spend with our kids. Sure, maybe roasted squash is better for her than Frosted Mini-Wheats, but she is still going to grow up, she is still going to get the nutrients she needs (somehow), and to me, right now, impacting her memories is the most important thing.
When Harper was less than 2 months old, I demanded that we take her to the museum (what?!). I thought it would be so good for her to be surrounded by art at such a young age. In retrospect, I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking. Was I presuming that by osmosis she would become cultured? She couldn’t see 10 inches from her face. To get a baby from downtown, in a massive Bugaboo stroller, to the UES, to schlep her around a museum, where she slept and shat the entire time, was a complete and utter waste of time (and anxiety levels).
When the twins were born, I tried to get out immediately with them to do things. I soon realized that the amount of stuff, the amount of schedules, and the amount of stress was simply not worth it.
Needless to say, we have not strayed far from Stuytown in the last almost 10 months. Who am I kidding? I couldn’t walk for the last half of my twin pregnancy, so it’s been well over a year.
Sometimes I get sad that my kids aren’t experiencing all that the city, all that life, has to offer. But I have to tell you: When we walk into their room when they first wake up in the morning, and they are all lying there, teeny-tiny eyes open, and they see me, and they see Nathan, and their little faces light up, nothing else in the world matters.
Harper and I are home together tonight—just us. I could pretend I’m already planning dinner, making sure the fridge is stocked. But we all know that’s a lie. We will be eating Frosted Mini-Wheats, in a mommy bowl, with a mommy spoon, on the kitchen floor, and I simply can’t wait. And I’m willing to bet, she can’t either.