My Whole Family Is Happier Now That I’ve Stopped Caring About What We Eat For Dinner

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“Mom, you can’t give us what we don’t like.”

This was my four-year-old’s proclamation after I attempted to feed her and her two-year-old sister a delicious baked oatmeal made with coconut milk, blueberries, and almonds. It was nutritious, wholesome, filling, and…rejected. Another meal for my kids bit the dust.

How did we get here? When they were babies it had all been so easy. I gave birth to two eating machines. I’d sprinkle lentils with cumin and let them go to town. I’d plop down whole avocados and smile smugly as they scarfed them down. Our grown up meals became baby food with the help of my blender. I was the god damn Queen of the Kitchen, rolling my eyes at moms who complained about their kids’ measly palates. “Not my children!” I guffawed from my throne made of rice cakes and organic date bars.

Then, my firstborn decided she didn’t like cheese. And spaghetti. And cherry tomatoes. And…just about everything else. Dinner went downhill fast.

Still, I was determined to make my family simple, healthy, kid-friendly meals that were both good for them and good to eat. Breakfast and lunch were fairly easy to survive, but dinner was it’s own beast. I was desperate not to fall into the trap of cooking separate kid and adult meals. “They will eat what we eat!” I declared. I became a Weelicious freak (yes, I even paid for her monthly meal plan), I hoarded family-friendly cookbooks, I trolled websites like Dinner A Love Story and Smitten Kitchen. I made meal plans, shopping lists, and crocked the shit out of my pot. And they boycotted EVERY. SINGLE. DINNER.

“Too yucky!” shouted the two-year-old as I plopped down a plate of turkey Bolognese.

“But I don’t likeeeeeeeee it,” whined my four-year-old when I whipped up a scrumptious chicken and dumplings in the crock pot.

“Why can’t we just have hot dogs?” they asked, every time I attempted some creative hidden vegetable dish.

I felt defeated, and – even though it was silly – hurt. “You can’t be offended,” my husband would say as he scraped their rejects onto his plate. “They’re just kids.”

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