Please stop cheating on me with other mothers. It’s exhausting.
While I admit I haven’t always put a ton of time and energy into preparing healthy family meals, we both know that I’ve recently changed my ways. You’d have to be blind not to notice all the plotting, planning, shopping and cooking I’ve been doing lately in order to rehab our dining habits.
But, then again, maybe you’ve been too busy admiring the broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes and pork chops at other people’s houses to notice that you’re being served that very same food at home—where you hate it.
Despite my best efforts to woo you with my dazzling new dinners, you continue to cheat on me and savor healthy food in the home of another mother. And not just any mother; you’ve chosen Ms. Polly, the mother who lives right next door.
If you’re going to cheat on me, you could at least have the class to do it with a stranger. Haven’t I taught you anything?
Getting you, my dear 8-year-old girl, to eat healthy food is ridiculously hard. And your tendency to cheat with other moms is making it even more challenging.
When I make pork chops, you say pork chops are disgusting. When Ms. Polly makes pork chops, you say pork chops are delicious. At home, the idea of sauce on your spaghetti is revolting, but after an evening next door, you proudly announce that you had both marinara and meatballs on your penne.
I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I was so jealous of your love for Ms. Polly’s pork chops that I asked her for the recipe. Do you hear what I’m saying? I am making the exact same pork chops. And yet, you prefer hers.
And you don’t even try to hide it.
In the middle of dinner, you’ll let it slip that Ms. Polly’s spices are better than mine and that you’ve tried new tricks with her, such as dipping your tomatoes in balsamic vinegar.
We’re in a committed relationship. I made you for God’s sake. I shouldn’t have to work this hard for your food affection. I shop at three or four different grocery stores. I leave work early every day to make dinner. Hell, I even bought a bike to ride to the farmer’s market on the weekends. Just wait until you’re a grown-ass woman riding a bike with a basket—a basket filled with food you lovingly prepare for your family!—only to have your daughter tell you she only likes that dish when it’s served up by the mother next door.
Your cheating ways might make sense if Ms. Polly was serving chocolate éclairs with a side of Nutella for dinner, but she’s not. She’s serving the same kind of healthy meals I am, and you still like what she’s serving better.
Well Missy, here’s a thought to keep you awake at night: Ms. Polly’s pork chops won’t always be there for you. They seem so great and so spicy right now—even though you won’t even try black pepper at our house—but there’s nothing stopping Ms. Polly and her pork chops from picking up and moving to the suburbs tomorrow.
And then who will you be left with?
Me. That’s who.
One day you’ll understand how impossibly hard it is to get your children to eat broccoli and Brussels sprouts without them spewing venom in your face—but until that day comes, please keep your love for other people’s meat and vegetables to yourself.
Your color commentary on the culinary expertise next door is wearing this old lady out.
Truth be told, I don’t care if you eat Ms. Polly’s pork chops. I just want you to eat mine, too.
So, dear daughter of mine, feel free to keep up your cheating ways. But when it comes to healthy food we’re both trying to impress you with…please, for the love of God, stop bragging about hers and complaining about mine.
This article was originally featured on The Huffington Post: Parents.
Katherine Wintsch is a working mother of two and intimately familiar with the highs and lows of trying to keep it all together. As the CEO of The Mom Complex, she studies mothers around the world and helps businesses develop better products and services to meet their needs. For more information follow @kwintsch or visit The Mom Complex. And see her TEDx talk on motherhood here.