The Joys of Motherhood

When the going gets tough, one thought keeps me going

I enjoy my kids a lot.  So much so that, given the choice, I tend to opt for staying home with them rather than going out alone with my husband or to some social event.  But sometimes, especially towards the end of a long vacation when we’ve all been spending day after day together without much diversion and the teasing and name-calling (okay, that’s mostly me) are getting out of hand, I grow a little . . . weary.  But I never think, “Why oh why did I have four children?”

Do you want to know why?

Because they order french fries with their meals.

Really, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.   There was once a time when I ordered french fries freely, when I was young and my metabolism actually worked at more of a gallop than its current tortoise-like crawl.  Of course, the true glory days were when my children were nursing infants and I could eat all day and still lose weight.  

I was grateful to them for that–but not as grateful as I am now that I’m old and stinky and have lost the ability to burn any calories whatsoever, as far as I can tell.

When all else fails and the kids are getting on my nerves, I take them out for lunch, somewhere where I know they do fries right.  I make sure one of the kids orders a side of french fries and when they arrive at the table, hot and fragrant and crisp, I immediately grab a few for myself.   It is a perfect moment of bliss–no guilt, just pleasure.  Then my salad (dressing on the side, please) gets put down in front of me and I don’t even mind because I’ve had my fries.  And the promise of a few more along the way.  Not to many.  But enough.

Why not order them myself and only eat some of them?  If you have to ask this, you’re not a woman over the age of thirty and I see no reason to continue this discussion.  The question is not unlike the one in Charlie Brown where someone asks why Snoopy doesn’t just sleep IN his doghouse when it rains  instead of on top of it and everyone just rolls his eyes.

Of course, my kids are onto this.  They know I’m using them for my own selfish ends.  In fact, in a certain mischievous mood, my nine-year-old will torment me by ordering–oh, the horror!–a side of fruit with his sandwich.  He cackles delightedly when he does this and I try to pretend I think fruit is good for his health.   But sometimes he’s in a generous mood and then he’ll place his order for fries and turn to me and say, “I got them for you.” 

The older ones are less invested in getting a reaction out of me, either way.  They tend to get whatever they want and if it happens to include fries, they gently push the plate my way, with a bit of a sigh and a shrug.  They know better than to protest since I’m not above threatening to cut off meals out at restaurants if my french fry hunger isn’t appeased. 

It’s not JUST french fries of course.  There’s also the ice cream factor.  I haven’t ordered my own cup of ice cream in over a decade.  Why would I when I can have four guilt-free spoonfuls of different kinds?   I will say that for a while I was frustrated with the whole ice cream thing when my kids were fixated on the most disgusting flavors–bright pink and green flavors that tasted more like gum than like ice cream to me.  Fortunately, as they’ve grown up, their chocolate needs have kicked in and now at least two of my kids appreciate mint chocolate chip as much as I do. 

The list goes on: bites of hamburgers far too greasy for me to get for myself, the occasional onion ring, a jagged piece torn from a huge bakery store chocolate chip cookies . . .  If they’re eating it, I’m probably tasting it.  I get a small amount of something I’ve been craving without the caloric or financial commitment of having a whole one for myself.

I dread the day when they all go off to college.  I don’t know how I’ll get my french fry fix. 

I knew there was a reason I had kids.  I just didn’t know it would be THIS reason.


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