Wednesday, August 25, 2010


As a mother, a parent, for the most part I think I do a pretty good job. On occasions there are things I wish I'd given more consideration to in advance, in terms of really thinking about how I would tackle a particular parenting issue, before I was in the midst of that very issue, but overall there isn't a lot of angst.

There is one thing, however, that has always been of issue but lately has escalated to a higher level of frustration, disappointment and now, hurt. It's food, particularly dinner time.

As a babe to about the age of 2 Ella was amazing and would eat everything in front of her, every single thing without question and seemed to enjoy it all. I don't know what happened at age 2, but from that point on what she would eat narrowed and narrowed and narrowed then with the arrival of Leila and then the two of them eating together, it's now at crisis point for me.

They don't like so many things and also the cliches hold true, I'll put extra effort into making something new that I think they'll really like, only to have it barely tasted.

Food, cooking, eating is a huge part of mine and Geoff's lives. We have a very diverse and rich diet, covering the globe in cuisine styles and every night it's something different and never dull. I feel so sad that the girls don't share in that.

Last week I was so fed up I asked Ella what I could do. They never relish their meals, get really excited or say yum and honestly, it's both frustrating and upsetting. We talked about it later on, just she and I and she told me that the food I make is boring to her and doesn't really interest her. It hurt, hearing her say that, like a knife to the chest and she felt soooo bad at the idea of upsetting me. As I said to her, she must always tell me what she thinks and it's up to me to deal with those words, not her to change them to what she thinks I'll like to hear. We agreed that she's old enough to be eating adult food and that I would cook to interest her and make largely for her what Geoff and I eat. I had narrowed their repertoire purely so I know their dinners would be eaten. The new idea of new food hasn't been a huge success.

Tonight, after pork fillet marinated in ginger, soy and plum sauce, served with an asian cauliflower dish we like and noodles, I'd had enough. We went back and forth tonight as this was "too sweet" and this "isn't really to my taste". Gosh, it's just torture to me, no pleasure involved at all however hard I try. Then Ella comes out with an absolute sucker punch "Somewhere in the world there are families sitting together, talking about their day and eating a delicious meal saying yum yum." I had to leave the table, go to my room and cry alone. Don't get me wrong, Ella isn't a mean child, so very far from it, but we were arguing with each other of sorts. That though, that absolutely cut me to the core, hence I'm here sharing when I should be doing a myriad of other tasks in the witching period.

A dear friend lost her father to cancer very recently and only last week we attended his memorial service. Whilst we know her very well, we aren't childhood friends, we've known each other only for the last 15 years, so I don't know her parents as I do others. At the memorial service both she and her two siblings spoke of their father and their childhoods and family lives. They had no television growing up, they talked. They are a very verbal family, politicially active, interested and interesting people who are passionate in conversation and debate. Hearing about the family dynamic throughout their lives was so moving to listen to, but now, as I sit wallowing, also so sad to me for myself.

I always imagined family meals so vividly for our family and reality it's so far from what I always dreamt of. We only get to have family dinner together one night a week, on Sundays, and although always fraught, I love it and the girls do too. The reality of our lives is that Geoff is rarely home before 7pm and never eats with the girls during the week. I feed the girls and then we eat again together later. I know this isn't uncommon but honestly, it's the thing I dislike most about our life. I dream of a life where we're all together every night for dinner and we can achieve at least a little of what others have and have had and that I've hoped for. For now I'm at a loss, I hate the angst, the stress, the dischord, I find it really, really upsetting.

I should buy a book, I do try new things, but I need motivation, fresh ideas, or failing that, stories of situations more challenging than my own. Please share.


Jo said...

thanks for sharing v... i had my cry this morning, my son wouldn't go on his kinder excursion to make bread at the bakery because I couldn't go with him... he missed out on a wonderful experience because i didn't have the energy to parent in the way that i could/should have. my husband told me that i need to start by being kind to myself. probably good advice to all of us?!?

i also find dinner so fundamentally disappointing and mostly frustrating, even though we eat together every night. I have recently started making the meals from the CSIRO kids book, and while they are healthy, nutritious, child-friendly, etc; my kids still stick their noses in the air, "I don't like it!" sometimes they eat it, sometimes they don't. They certainly never (ever) say YUM-YUM {unless I dish up what I consider junk ~ sausages, sausage rolls, and the like}

I am just hoping that if I am consistent in serving up varied, nutritious, good food, then one day they will learn to have the same appreciation for food and their parents. Until then, I just try not to take their un-gratefullness too personally.

good luck ~ I hope that you find a happier place with all this. Jo x

LJ said...

Oh darling. I feel your frustrations. In fact, my post yesterday was on EXACTLY the same thing. Take a peek.

Catherine said...

I'm sorry to hear about what you're going through with your girls. It can be torture sitting and eating a meal that you've put time and effort into, that is delicious but you're children don't like. I'm going through the same with my youngest who is 6 and it's so frustrating and upsetting and sometimes worrying that they don't eat enough because it's not to their liking. I only hope like Jo that in time their tastes change but I'm still going to keep trying, maybe one night out of 7 the meal is a winner so on those nights I leave the table happy. Goodluck with your meal times I hope things get better.:)

Christie said...

Aw Vic, this is heartbreaking. We have one picky eater & one adventurous eater, but sometimes they swap & you can never guarentee that a dinner will be eaten.

I know Ryder (our picky eater) does love cooking with Rog & it does help him try new things, which he is getting better at. Have you tried getting Ella involved in choosing something to cook for dinner & then cooking the meal? I know it could slow down the dinner process, but maybe on the weekend?

At the end of the day, try not to beat yourself up, your kids will grow up seeing the way you eat & one day they will get it.

flamehair said...

My 5 year old was tremendously picky until she turned 4 then magically transformed into a great eater (no idea what changed!) My three year old will only eat white food. My nine month old is not a fan of solids and is still exclusively breastfed. My dinnertime involves breastfeeding the baby, then making two meals for the older kids (one white, one normal,) then when my husband gets home I cook our dinner. I eat dinner on the move while getting the kids ready for bed and my husband eats dinner while watching TV and entertaining the baby. Our family meal is breakfast actually - it's the only time we eat together and sitting down.

Sandy said...

Oh V, I wish I could take away how miserable you feel. All I can say is that I go through the same frustrations when feeding my children. I’m always saying, “Can’t you just eat one vegetable? Can’t you just eat one more bite of blah, blah, blah. It would make me very happy.” My children are very, very thin, not even on the charts for their weights. Recently I took Tyler for his 6th year wellness appointment and the doctor told me that I had to fatten him up. I am desperately trying, but my issue is about the quantity. My children eat a few bites and say that they’re done. How frustrating is that?! I hate forcing them to eat, but I have little choice now. It can be torture around the dinner table when both my husband and I keep telling them to keep eating and all they want to do is get down from the table to play. And as for my husband, things will change when his commute is extended next year. He will be missing more meals with us, but that is something we will have to deal with later. Cheer up, you are not alone. Feeding children is a tough job.

Great said...

I have two 10 years old and one 4 year old. I made them clear that if they don't like my food, it's okay. But they're not allowed to say that over and over again. So they don't so often. And they have to put the food on the plates themselves. We don't mide how even little but they have to put on something. And what they put on, they have to eat. During the day they just get one moment for having a sweet treat. In the morning they eat fruit and a biscuit. Afcourse this is not black and white but it helps. Good luck!

Angie said...

This post has been ringing in my head since I read it, I've been meaning to get back to comment ever since.

The whole dinner-time situation can be so frazzling & like you it is often only myself dealing with it all. I find the whole thing a bit demoralizing at times also.

My kids, being younger, can not articulate their frustrations quite as 'well' so dinner is usually met with "I'm NOT eating that" to "this is terrible"(without so much as a mouthful). It has been better that my eldest is a pretty good eater as a close friend has had enormous troubles as her eldest is very fussy & sets of all the others who follow suit on the older ones reactions to dinner.

I've changed our dinners more & more as my kids prefer simpler, everything separate, often raw (veggies) dinners. Often I'll get them to sit down with some cut up raw veggies & raw nuts to eat while I get dinner ready. They eat far more veggies this way than if I served them up to them & called it dinner. Then I will serve them something more substantial, but even then they prefer their rice plain, their pasta unadorned, the cheese on the side, not mixed through. Now I just serve it that way.

They do like eating some 'together' foods, but it is like they should have been born in the 50's as their favourites are meat & 3 [raw] veg, apricot chicken [ahhh!]. I offer them the together version that I cook for the adults & more & more they eat another helping when we eat. The meals they help prepare are much more readily eaten (unassisted), like pizza, ricotta gnocchi, fried rice, fritters. I'll often get them to peel a carrot into oblivion while I get dinner ready.

From the other comments & your most recent post I can see you know you are not alone, but I just wanted to add my bit as well, because eating is such an integral part of our lives yet so incredibly frustrating when it goes haywire!

*sorry* for the lengthy comment!

Kristi said...

oh how our dinner tables sound so similar. i actually just signed up for a seminar on feeding children. i feel you pain.