Yesterday I was in my pajamas, scrolling through Facebook, because that’s what February looks like here, and I saw a friend’s post. Apparently her daughters are giving their lunch to children who have sub-par lunches every day, and coming home hungry (to a mom who has already presumably already fed said children). I think my friend saw this as a failure on her part. Is she raising girls who are “too nice?” In the brave new world of #metoo, we all live in fear of raising daughters who won’t wack the living shit out of people who try to take advantage of them. Perhaps, she asked me, she should put some pepper spray in the little, brown, paper sack, right next to the Nutella sandwich.
I saw her post and wondered… is she failing? By raising nice girls? I too have a daughter who is “not assertive enough,” in the classroom. But in addition to having a daughter who isn’t assertive enough, the lunches I pack are SUCH SHIT, that no one will ever want to trade. Actually, this isn’t technically true. I no longer pack her lunches. After two years of emails from the teachers saying things like “L forgot her lunch again so we are giving her some crackers and some macaroni packets we found in the cupboard,” I started ordering her school lunches again. Again, this is misleading. I consistently fail to fill out the lunch form on time, so the lunch lady is ordering her school lunches based on the one form I filled out at the beginning of the school year, when the sun still rose before 9 AM and I was capable of doing things like filling out forms and taking kids to orthodontist appointments.
But I do pack a lunch for my oldest son. Actually this is another lie. My husband packs lunch for our oldest son. My husband, who is a highly skilled professional who earns all the money and works sixty hours a week packs our son’s lunch. Our oldest son is many things: talented, funny, and kind, but also beset by a myriad of autoimmune issues. So he is gluten, sugar and dairy free. Thus he scores a homemade lunch. And usually my husband gets this together for him. At this point I feel the need to remind all the people judging me that a) this post is titled “Mom Fail,” so there is no need to leave a comment about how much I am failing, and b) I do prepare protein powder, gluten free, carob chip waffles for him every day.
Back to my parenting fail. The Facebook thread my friend posted had all sorts of responses ranging from how to help her raise more assertive daughters to what to pack for lunch to keep the foragers at bay. Seeing as how I still struggle to help my daughter assert herself in math, where according to her teacher she is reluctant to speak unless she is 100% certain she knows the answer, I thought I would help my friend with packing a lunch that would deter the pillagers, even if her daughter’s remained silent.
I shared with my friend, and all of her Facebook Friends, my lunch fail from the first week in January. Technically it was my husband’s fail, but society, my friends, and my subconscious all believe that since I am a stay at home mom, any fail on my husband’s part in the domestic realm is technically my fail. Nonetheless, I told my friend that last week my son came home desperate for orange juice. Desperate.
“Mom where’s the orange juice. I have the worse taste in my mouth. You know it’s been like this all day.”
I looked at my gargantuan six foot tall child disguised as a hirsute and skinny man, a man who can’t find the orange juice that is sitting right in front of him. I eyed him and wondered if he had stopped brushing his teeth. Sometimes he loses his toothbrush and if I am not on my A Game, cleaning out bathrooms and doing surprise, military style toothbrush inspections, the kids’ oral hygiene goes out the window. (No Need for emails, remember, I know that I am a failure, it’s the title of this post).
“Honey, why do you have such a bad taste in your mouth, what’s happened?” I wanted to lead him to the discovery that not brushing his teeth has an immediate consequence, in addition to the less concrete concept of dentures.
“Mom, the dog cookie that dad put in my lunch was disgusting. I can’t get the taste out of my mouth.”
Shut. The. Front. Door. “Honey, it couldn’t have been a dog biscuit, I am sure it was an organic, gluten free, sugar free, date bar that tasted like dog food.”
“No mom. I ate it. Then I spit it out, which was hard because it was really dry and stuck to my tongue.”
I open our cabinet and pull out the organic bars, which are strategically placed right next to the dog cookies. I pick up a protein bar, “are you sure this isn’t what you ate?”
No. He points to the dog cookies. “That’s what I ate.”
At this point my daughter wandered up to me, climbed up on the counter and grabbed a few dog cookies (which are packaged way too nicely–they really look like human cookies).
“Hey honey,” I said, “whatcha gonna do with those dog cookies?”
“Bring them to school and give them to the mean girl who tries to take my snack.” (The snack she buys because I never remember to pack one).
Mwahahah. I emailed my friend, the one with the starving children. 1) If you feel like you are failing, because your kids are nice, chin up, I sent my kid to school with dog biscuits for lunch. 2) If you want to stop the marauders from taking your kids food send them to school with dog cookies disguised as human cookies one day. 3) Your girls are nice, kind and empathetic, you aren’t failing.
I think about my kids who spend hours at the nursing home with their grandfather who stares at them and doesn’t say a word. I think about how they hug and kiss him and talk to all of the other very confused elderly people. I fuck up most of the little shit because I am still sort of reeling from the death of my mother, whilst caring for my father who is dying slowly, his mind having left a while ago. I screw up the little things because if I worry about packing organic lunches, I will be an evil bitch by the end of the day. But when I let go of the clothes being wrinkled and stained, and the lunches being packed with animal food I can still tend to their emotional needs come dinner time. I’m failing all the time. But I think I might just be getting a solid B in the things that matter. And chances are you are too.