Monday, February 28, 2011

Get Real.

Several years ago, before I even had a child, there was a diaper commercial that got fairly regular play. It goes something like this*:

It starts with the camera slowly zooming in on an infant lying on a blanket, everything is soft and glowing and calm and the voiceover says, “in the beginning, you want nothing but the best for your child and only put them in cloth diapers…”
Cut to a large family gathering in the yard – bright, colorful, loud, crowded chaos with a toddler wearing nothing but a diaper running around. Zoom in on the mom, who scoops the child up and says with a big smile: “and then you get real. And get Luvs.”

What I think makes this a great commercial (and something that I’ve remembered even years later) is how much it resonates with parents. Even if you choose cloth diapers, the core premise of the ad I think speaks so directly to the idea of having a baby and the reality of having a baby. When I imagined having my daughter everything was a slow-motion musical movie montage, set to some sweet tear-jerker song. I looked beautiful, my baby looked beautiful, and we were always gazing into each other’s eyes and smiling…

Needless to say, this is not exactly how having a newborn plays out.

What has made me think about this ad more recently, though, is my daughter’s ever evolving relationship with food. It was all so perfect in the beginning...

Imagine me (in soft focus), sitting in a glider and exclusively breastfeeding my infant…in the kitchen (still in soft focus), with pots boiling on the stove as I make and jar food for my baby…smiling with satisfaction (again, soft focus) as my toddler inhales all sorts of (100% organic) fruits and veggies, tries different types of meats, experiments with ethnic foods…

And then cut to the sharp, colorful and loudly screaming “no!” reality of having a 2 year old who refuses almost all food and whose weekly diet can be captured in a few bullet points:
· Oatmeal
· Yogurt
· Cheese (Baby Bella wheels, Pirate’s Booty, and Goldfish/Cheddar Bunnies)
· Hot Dogs
· Pasta (in almost all forms)
· Edamame
· Grapes
· Rice

That’s it. That is literally ALL that my daughter will eat. At least I have some comfort in the fact that all the food groups are represented. The hot dogs were a recent addition that only came about because, for some strange reason, hot dogs are sung about in every episode of my daughter’s favorite show, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

I recently had an experience that put this issue into sharp focus. I met a friend at the mall a few weeks ago. We let our kids run around the play space and then headed to the food court. She immediately went to get her son a happy meal - really the only toddler option available. I stood debating for a couple of minutes. Like the TV issue, I don’t have strong feelings about fast food. And the truth is, we go out to eat a lot and in a restaurant setting I will readily order similar foods off a kid’s menu for her.

But this was McDonalds.

On the other hand, what was I going to do? Make her eat a bowl of brown rice from the vaguely Asian food stand while she watched her friend munch on McNuggets and fries – and then get a TOY at the end?!

So I got her the happy meal. And of course, my kid who has turned her back on all forms of nugget I have tried to give her in the past – veggie, meatless, white meat chicken – ate all 4 nuggets like they were (and maybe they were) the best thing she had ever had.

Fortunately, the world did not end, she did not immediately put on 10 pounds, and she hasn’t even asked for them again. And now I sort of feel like, “what’s the big deal?” It’s not every day. And honestly, I think it’s good to have a treat every once in a while. And now I have a new bribing tool. Win-win.

As parents, we want to do the best for our kids – we want everything to be as perfect as possible. But the truth is, most of the time it’s just a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, make-it-up-as-you-go-along, try-your-best mess. And that’s ok.

What about you mamas? Any experiences where you wound up doing something in real life that you didn’t think you’d ever do in your imagined baby mama life?

*Disclaimer: I only remember the gist of the commercial; I may have the voiceover and even the brand incorrect!


  1. I'm with you, and remember that commercial well. So true about the idealism of to-be parents and the reality...we said we weren't going to do TV, and yet Ava just went to bed after an episode of Wonder Pets. Whatever :P

  2. Ha! I could have written this post, though admittedly not as well. I was so thoughtful and rule bound when it came to feeding my daughter as an infant and toddler, and she was known in our circle for being an adventuresome eater. Now I shudder when I think about how much of her diet consists of rice, pasta, bread & butter, cereal. Basically, we’ve now got a two-year-old carb-i-tarian. It's like they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. So we keep putting the curry, veggie lasagna and whatever else in front of her and figure one of these days she may expand her repertoire.
    Trying to be the perfect parent is like chasing a moving target. Sure, you can keep on running toward it, and probably should. But if you decide to pick up an occasional Happy Meal along the way – I’m not judging.

  3. Oh where do I begin...
    - I was going to breastfeed my baby for a year. That didn't happen
    - I too was going to make my own baby food - enter Plum Organics
    - I judged my friends with babies before I had a baby for spending so much money on their kids - I would say "it is a kid they don't care what stroller they are in!" and now I have 3 top of the line strollers in my garage, and buy my daughter nice things all the time.
    - I said I would never give her a pacifier, and here we are at 15 months still using one at night
    To name a few...

    I will say that I am totally against giving my daughter any fast food. I have stuck with it to 15 months, and I know in the future I will probably cave in, but this is something my husband and I are adamant about. I feed her 90% organic food right now, and she doesn't need that crap (as much as I love to eat it) in her little body right now. Don't get me wrong, I love a #1 with a diet coke...ha!

    You do what you gotta do - I don't judge anymore!

  4. Our grand plans for baby food fell apart within a few days.

    First we were going to make our own, and we did, but it was only 99% mushy. There was still that 1% we just couldn't get rid of, so we fell back on store bought jars. We tried several days in a row, then seem to have simply failed.

    We're still going organic and paying attention, but the reality of feeding crashed with our idealistic view pretty quickly.

    You know what though, we're okay with it. I guess that's the 'get real' part from the commercial.