Not long ago, frustrated by my picky eaters, I came up with a plan to help them try new foods:
Every week, they’re responsible for going through our recipe books, picking out one meal each that they think sounds good, then being the head cook for that meal during the week.
This plan has meant setting aside time to help them read through cookbooks.
And it’s meant longer trips to the store.
And a messier kitchen on the nights they cook (they are seven and nine years old).
But it’s also meant finding some dinners that they really like, and that they probably wouldn’t have tried so cheerfully if they weren’t the ones who’d picked them out and cooked them.
A little while after we started doing this, we all went to Starbucks one morning. We brought a couple of cookbooks with us because we were heading to the grocery store afterwards and needed to pick out what we were going to make that week.
My kids flipped through the pages, looking at the pictures, asking questions, and deciding … and deciding … and deciding … until finally, they made their choices.
“Good job,” I said, “These are going to be tasty.” I marked the pages and groaned inside as I scanned the long list of ingredients. (Even though the new plan was helping to expand my kids’ tastes, it was turning out to be a lot of work.)
And that’s when the woman at the table next to us stood up and came over. She put her hand on my shoulder and leaned down.
“You’re a good mom,” she said.
I smiled, confused. “Thanks.”
“Is this something you do all the time, with the cookbooks?”
I didn’t know she’d heard us.
I explained to her what we’d started with the meals.
“I think that’s great,” she said. Then again, “You’re a good mom.”
I could barely respond.
Honestly, I felt like I might start crying.
Her compliment meant a lot to me. Because it was affirmation that sometimes the more time-consuming or inconvenient choice for us as a mom is the best choice for our kids. And because, sometimes, when we’re wondering if all the effort is worth it, we need to be reminded that it is.
I was so thankful for that woman’s words that morning, and for the fact that she took the time to come over to me.
Because it made all the difference in the world.
It really did.