I have these moments of nostalgia induced bliss when I think about what a good Mom I was and how wonderful our kids turned out. Then one of my actual children will call.
Most of the time I can feign memory loss, “Who is this again?” but my memory is bad enough now that I can’t always remember who or what I’ve lied about, so that can seriously backfire. But that is not the point. The point is green beans. And I will get to it eventually, but first a warning: My kids all have kids now. OMG! I thought my kids were scary! All we had was plain kids. They have kids with allergies and texture issues and hypersensitivity and all kinds of stuff that would have made me think about sending them all back for refitting. A lot of our conversations seem to be about eating. This at least has not changed. I try to stay enthusiastic. If you are a grandparent you already know where I am going with this.
“Just eat your green beans.” That’s what we used to say. I’m not claiming it was a good thing. In fact I suspect that I was given a lobotomy after my third child was born just so I could repeat phrases like this endlessly without having my eyeballs fall out. “Just eat your green beans!” How hard is this? Seriously? And how did it become so important?
I would love to say that in my case, I was just was looking out for the health and happiness of my kids. But the truth is, it was about survival, I’m not sure whose. My instincts told me I should feed the children something besides hot dogs. It did not seem unreasonable that they should comply. But did they? No. They were like a troop of defiant warrior pixies bent on pressing me into a state of catatonic overload. Why, I don’t know. I just know that apparently the lobotomy reduced my coercion and parenting skills to a single phrase, and I was going to keep repeating it until someone listened.
I should have known long before I made that fatal command that it was a lost cause. One rarely produces offspring less stubborn than one’s self. My oldest daughter was more than a match for me by the time she was four. And so, for reasons that seemed imminently important to me at the time, she was consigned to stay at the table till said green beans were eaten. Which in this case would have meant forever.
As I pulled her sleeping buttery face out of her plate and carried her upstairs to bed, I made a note to myself not to have any more children, but more importantly to give up the battle. I would henceforth only “offer” green beans – and they could eat them, or not. This date has gone down in my personal history as the day I surrendered to the pixies. I must have sensed even then that I would need to save my strength for much larger wars to come over things like body piercing, and blue hair.
I think it can be fairly said that if you are a Mom you are also a survivor. And so today I tip my hat to new and veteran Moms everywhere, who do time in the trenches with the earnest and sometimes crazed hope of creating a better life for their children. Bless you.