by Michele Zipp
Every day at school drop off I have to write down on a whiteboard if my child is eating school lunch or home lunch. We are school lunch people. There are home lunch people. To my surprise, lots of them. Being on the school lunch people list makes me feel like a bad mom. I fail to lovingly prepare turkey and cheese sandwiches cut in hearts. I don’t supply cute Hello Kitty lunch boxes with the carrots cut just so and the celery is perfectly ready to dip into the homemade hummus carefully wrapped in a little jar.
I do all those things though. Except the homemade hummus. I just don’t do them on school days. But then I think of the “institutional” meats and bread that isn’t 298 grain and the milk that isn’t organic, the eggs that come from who-knows-what-fed chickens and the exposure to juice that isn’t freshly squeezed and I feel guilty, guilty, guilty.
Yes, I guess I am that mom. The one who probably would still be breastfeeding if my kids didn’t quit me. The one who doesn’t let them eat most of the candy on Halloween. The one who buys organic and freshly squeezes juice and buys only the most natural hummus. Now that my kids are school lunch kids, what they are eating is somewhat out of my control. Unless of course I decide to start making lunches for them to take to school. Which, quite honestly, sounds exhausting.
I'm not much of a cook (hence the store bought hummus). I am a boring eater when it comes to lunch (dinner, well that's a whole other story). So I kind of sort of feel that exposing them to school lunch opens them up to a whole range of foods I haven't given them yet. Or maybe I'm just telling myself that to not feel so guilty.
It's not that they are eating poison. Right?!?! They have things like jasmine rose rice, garlicky green beans, and sunrise corn bread -- these are really on the menu at my kids' school. And not things I've ever prepared for them myself. I give them plenty of good stuff but like I mentioned, I'm a little conservative when it comes to menu. Maybe I'm just feeling like here I am sending my little ones -- my twins -- to preschool and just sending them off without any foodie nuggets of love from Mama. They aren't opening their lunchboxes at noon and seeing my little love note in the form of a meticulously and adorably curated meal. They instead get that bland lunch tray and a spork and some stuff scooped out for them by a stranger in a hair net and I have to hope they ate at least enough of it to get them through the day. And that the food is actually healthy and not spoiled or tainted or ohmygosh I'm worrying too much.
But maybe, just maybe I'm doing them a little bit of good here. Letting them gain some independence even if it's in a foodie way. I haven't convinced myself of that yet though.
Are you a school lunch or home lunch mom? What made you to decide which way to go?