Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Cereal Aisle

I have two decent kids.  They are good people overall.  Sure they make stupid, hasty decisions that I question, but that's all part of growing up.  I've done worse, and I'm sure they will too.  Knowing all of this I'm still a relatively normal mother, in that I am constantly questioning my ability and role as a mom. 

The other morning Roan approached me, with great frustration, to inform me that once again Gage had eaten all the cereal on him and there was no milk for Roan to eat the leftover "crappy" cereal that Gage had yet to eat.  He was irate that Gage chooses to eat his cereal at night before bed rather than in the morning after rising from his bed like Roan does.  Clearly this is "completely unfair".  I assured Roan I would get him some milk and cereal after work for tomorrow's breakfast but for today, he could have toast or oatmeal.

So that conversation and a trip to the grocery store, cereal aisle, leads me to the following question:
When did they stop putting toys in cereal boxes? 

When I was a kid I remember going to the grocery store with my mom and being excited about getting to pick the cereal.  Of course, the type of cereal selected was in direct relation to the toy that came in it:  a frisbee, a puzzle, a decoder, a magic ring, stickers...  I would actually suffer through Raisin Bran if the toy was decent enough.  And that's saying a lot because I loathe raisins.

It's ironic that these days we are all expected to be supermoms instead of admitting that every damn one of us has flaws.  Society wants us to believe that all mothers wake up each morning feeling refreshed and energized, speak only in soothing tones to their children, cook their family dinners (of which they have every night promptly at 5:30 p.m. at the kitchen table where every one reminisces about their day) with only organic foods and are able to ease into any situation they are faced with amidst great comfort.    But these moms don't exist.  I think most of us suffer through the Raisin Bran in hopes of spotting a magic ring at the bottom of the box. .

On paper I look really good.  I have a family, I have a great career, I have a house, I've done real well for myself.  But in real life, I have to repair dings and dents in my plaster walls, mop up grape juice stains in my beige carpets, rarely remember to take something out of the freezer in the morning for dinner that night, and plan to have "Because I said so!" as my epitaph on my tombstone.

Real mothers wonder who these experts are who actually write for parenting magazines or Good Housekeeping.  I'd really like to take the time to get to know them.  They seem to have their acts together when I can sometimes barely keep my head above water.  Real mothers know it's okay to eat cold pizza in the morning for breakfast.  Real mothers admit it's easier to fail at being a mom than it is to succeed.  If parenting is a box of Raisin Bran then a real mother knows that the ratio of flakes to fun is greatly uneven. 

For every moment that one of my sons tells me they love me, or confides in me, or does something for each other that makes me so proud of them, there are many more moments of chaos, error and self-doubt.  Sometimes real mothers will secretly wish they'd chosen a different selection for breakfast than this endless box of cereal, but god forbid they ever say that out loud.  That would make them a pariah.  But you know what I've figured out over the past 13 + years fellow mothers?  I've learned that the very fact that you are even worrying about being a good mother, means you likely already are one.  So maybe my epitaph will actually read, "She ate the Raisin Bran and was an amazing mother!"

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