Hot dogs, sunscreen and all the other ways I’m 'messing up'
Sometimes I just want simple. Easy.
Hot dogs on the grill with mustard and ketchup and chips and beans kind of easy. But the grill probably has carcinogens and the hot dogs are bad and the beans come from a can and the ketchup isn’t organic and I should be making something better from Whole Foods which is on the other side of town and my vehicle isn’t a hybrid and I’m late already for the school line.
For instance, I’ve scoured my email at least a dozen times making sure I have all of the end of the year information written down. Field days and programs and special slushy ice to buy and end of school terms and teacher’s special presents and notes and what to wear and team colors and bags to bring and you know what?
I’m still missing stuff.
And all of those emails and things to do and volunteer stuff—it stresses me out.
Why does it have to be so incredibly complicated?
I just don’t think my mom had to do this crazy amount. Unless I’m totally mistaken, I think she sent me on the last day of school with a paper grocery bag for me to shove everything in from my desk and picked me up for lunch at a park near school. And for years that paper bag would break and I’d have to carry the bottom to prevent all those papers from flittering away. And for lunch, we had hot dogs and beans and chips. And watermelon which we ate with hands dirty from playing because we didn’t have portable hand sanitizers.
I kind of wish for simple.
Running in the sprinkler and hot dog simple.
I can’t even buy sunscreen without looking at 43 options, different SPF ratings, and then am met with articles about the dangers of sunscreen mixed with the dangers of not using sunscreen. The spray is toxic or you need the natural kind and that doesn’t do anything on my kid’s fair skin. There are articles about how sunscreen saves lives and how sunscreen is toxic.
Sometimes it just feels like I have to settle to make a “losing” choice because there aren’t any perfect solutions.
Again. I think my mom had Coppertone25 for me.
And I burned despite her diligence.
And the dermatologist loves me. But she tried.
And I ate red dye Freezie pops in the process.
Along with non-organic hot dogs.
But I survived.
I really, really, really did.
I had summers of playing outside and bike riding and going in the sprinkler and eating raspberries and sometimes we watched too much television or ate extra popsicles but you know, it was okay. My mom was able to let us be kids without having to be told 58 times every day about ways that she could be “messing up” her kids. It’s really not even about the dangers of the stuff in food— because I get that—it’s more about the dangers now of way too much information with no good answer.
Us moms have enough pressure already out there and we don’t need 483 conflicting studies that all conclude we’re messing up. We just need to remember the power in one thing.
Doing our best.
And I think that all of these not so perfect solutions are causing way too much stress. And if we’re not careful they’re making us miss out on the moments because we’re stuck reading those 43 emails and debating over sunscreen and we feel guilt over the hot dogs and end up going to bed wondering if we’re doing a good job. Well let me tell you this—my mom did a good job.
In fact, she did a great job.
So I’m going to try my best. I’m going to feed them healthy food. But I’m also going to let them get those freeze pops and run in the sprinkler and all of the other stuff. Because I’m not perfect and no matter what I do there will be a study telling me it’s bad.
I’m a mom.
Just like you. Stuck in a sea of mom solutions and miracle products and lists of rules that can make any simple decision terribly complex. But you know what? I love my kids. So I navigate these waters and scour the emails and tries to remember the sunscreen but still sometimes forget.
My kids know I’m there for them. That’s not messing up. It’s mothering. That’s the real power of motherhood in this complex crazy world. And sometimes even have hot dogs and beans for dinner.
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This article was previously published here.