Written by Jessica from Virginia.
I’ve brainwashed my almost three year old daughter into believing that all kids her age love ethnic food. I mean, it’s not really a lie. Vietnamese kids like Vietnamese food. Mexican kids like Mexican food. I don’t know why the average American kid eats like he’s scared of heartburn, but I don’t think the fact that I am Casper-the-ghost-white should stop my child from enjoying a perfectly good noodle bowl. Don’t go thinking I’m enlightened and worldly. I just like to keep my takeout options open. Because (confession)… my child eats a lot of takeout. I can just see you granola moms cringing in front of your computer screen. It makes me giggle a little to picture your disgust. Meh, go ahead and judge. Believe me, I started out organic. I even pureed sweet potato and froze it in ice cube trays just like the Pinterest showed me to do. (Confession: I later threw away the whole tray because freezer-burned pureed sweet potato is DISGUSTING.) However, in the three years since I had my daughter, much has happened. My mama saga goes like this: Family brings home baby…mom takes maternity leave… mom returns to work…life happens… dad moves out… mom is a single working mother…child eats ethnic takeout. In case you think this story is some sort of tragedy, it’s not. Because takeout is delicious. And takeout, when you boil it right down to its very essence, is food. And food feeds the child. And then the child lives.
Wait. Let me back up a minute. I have to tell you this other part of my story or you won’t understand how I’ve come to such a simplified understanding of my job as a mother. You see, a month back I was in a bad car accident. You crying-moms (you know who you are) don’t need to hear the particulars and I don’t want to relive it, but suffice it to say that my daughter and I were blessed to live. My daughter walked away without a scratch. Me… not so fortunate. I broke three bones in my foot which required surgery and I am now living out eight weeks of “non-weight bearing” life. EIGHT WEEKS of not walking. Eight frickity fracking weeks. So now I am not only a single mom but I am now a single mom on a single foot. (Side note: “Single Mom on a Single Foot” should be a country song. Someone get on it.) Right now, I have this thing called a “knee rollator” (which is a glorified kid’s scooter) that I use to get around. So I get up and roll to work every day. I do my job behind a desk and make people at work get me things like a queen. And then I hop (literally) into my car and I pick up my child. I try to feed her something (usually meals from church ladies who have taken pity on me) while she runs circles around me and drops food on the carpet that will stain (nightly). Then I scoot my butt (again, literally) up the stairs to put my girlie to bed. I do it (sometimes more than once, because bed time is still a concept not well grasped) so I can rock her and read her stories and be mom. And for everything else in between, well, I just try to make it all work. (Yesterday I put an egg sandwich in my cargo jacket pocket because I couldn’t figure out how to carry it and my daughter’s lunch bag. That’s how far I’ve sunk. Egg-sandwich-in-the-pocket deep.)
You know what’s the last thing on my mind? The evils of takeout. I’ve had moments where I’ve thought that I am never as good an employee, mother, friend, and [insert role] as I would like to be. There’s something about single motherhood and especially single motherhood when you are not 100% well that throws your personal limitations in your face and shows you exactly how mortal you are. But at the end of the day, it also makes you figure out what’s actually important. For me that’s God and my faith, my daughter and my family. It causes me to pray more and to give up all the anxiety that comes from trying to keep up with whatever new mom standard is trending on Facebook. It causes me to realize that I am not the sum of what I can accomplish today. My value is not in how much free time I gave my child or how great I did at work. It gives me the freedom to just try to do the thing I am doing right at that moment well: to be present in the now and give my whole self to that person or task instead of worrying about what needs to get done next. Because once you figure out you can’t do it all (and you certainly can’t do it all perfectly), I guess you can either freak out or roll with it and still love this crazy messy life. And I choose to roll with it.
So thank God for takeout. And for mini mes who eat ethnic food and don’t know enough to complain. Thank God for another day where I get to do me and be mommy. Even still, life is sweet.
Jessica is the author of the Momma Makes Merry blog.