Sometimes we grow when our best laid plans don't work out. Well, I do.
A parenting goal of mine is to prepare Lily Mae's food from scratch and to buy natural/organic whenever possible. Our local grocery store is great and has a much larger organic selection than any other store in town, but it's still not enough. The closest Whole Foods store is over an hour away with traffic, so it's really not a great option for us. However, we had a great, open weekend with no plans, so we took a little family trip on Saturday to get some new foods for Lily Mae to try. She's eight months old now and has only had three foods - bananas, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes (all of which she loves). I don't feed her every day (or even every other day). I'm really not that worried about it. She likes to eat, has no aversion to a spoon, loves her highchair... I don't anticipate a problem transitioning her to solids down the road when she actually needs them. Honestly, I think I'm the one who's been getting bored with the same three foods. I've been excited to let her try some new things. At Whole Foods we got butternut squash, pears, sweet potatoes, carrots, barley, and oats - all organic. The pears will be the first to go bad, so I wanted to start with those. So begins our morning.....
First off, I've never eaten a pear. Actually, once - a candied, baked, delicious pear my friend Aaron made at a party one New Years Eve. It was pretty good. So...I didn't know how to pick a pear. Or how to prepare a pear (prePEAR, anyone???). But I learned from a website that I don't have to cook them first (for an eight-month old), and that they should be soft enough when they are ripe to easily puree. About a month ago, I found a 14-cup food processor on Craigslist for $30, so I jumped up and bought it. Ready to go. So excited! I cut, I seeded, I peeled. I put the chunks into the processor and pureed away. It did.not.work. Maybe it was because I didn't cook them, or maybe the used machine had a blade that was too dull, but it pretty much just chopped the pear up and wouldn't go any finer than that. After messing with it for a while, I thought maybe I could just whip it into a puree with a hand mixer. Pear pieces EVERYWHERE. Moving it in all into a third, bigger bowl only made more flying pear chunks across my kitchen.
Fine! Scrap the pears!!! Nobody likes pears anyway!!! ARGHH. All the while Lily Mae is patiently waiting and playing with her feet in her highchair while I figure out this disaster of a meal. I grabbed a sweet potato cube from the freezer, thawed it, and delivered the bowl of the yummy orange mush to my cutie who is always eager to eat it. HA! Think again, Mama Bear! I normally feed her at night, but when introducing new foods I like to do it in the morning in case it upsets her tummy - hence the earlier feeding today. She just wasn't hungry (so the pears probably wouldn't have been a hit either). She ate a little bit, sure, but really wasn't interested. So here I was, pear non-mush strewn across the kitchen, bowls and processor parts piled up in the sink, and a baby who doesn't want the food I've made for her.
I don't mind a dirty mess. A food mess, on the other hand, drives me a little bit bananas (heh heh). Give me a kid covered in mud - heck, even spit up - and I'll be just fine, but keep your messy food face (and hands and arms and bib and clothes and table and floor) away from me!! (I'm a freak.)
I'm a mom now. I knew this day would come, and that I would have to be ok with food mess. It's part of growing up...it's even good for a kid to explore their food and learn how to feed themselves. Up until now, I've even stopped mid-feeding to wipe her face and hands off (multiple times). But I've had a frustrating morning with this whole meal thing, and when she was more interested in the spoon than what was on it, I made the choice to surrender and just give it to her. I even dumped what was left of her potatoes on her tray and just let her play with them. [insert heart-racing anxiety attack here]
It was hard, but I did it - it was even a little funny to watch her explore and squish it between her fingers. I'm still finding hardened chunks of orange foodstuffs in her hair, her nose, and her ears. But you know what? I think I'm gonna be ok. ;)
p.s. I know what you veteran moms are thinking: "This? This is what she's calling a "mess"?". YES. See? I'm nuts. (Ha! Another food pun! I'm on a roll!!! Bwahhahahahahaha another one!!!!!)