Babe in the City

I am what they call a ‘go-getter’ — the kind of Type-A girl who has a timeline in her head of what her life will look like in the next five years. Four years of high school, four years of undergrad, one year of teacher’s college, and I should be teaching. And, that’s exactly how things panned out. In a room full of 18-year-old, Grade 12 Biology students, I was their 22-year-old teacher.

By 23, I had paid off my student debt. By 24, I was married and bought a house in the suburbs. In a rare moment, I would look over my shoulder and find my colleagues and friends bar-hopping, club-hopping, or country-hopping in attempts to find themselves. I didn’t quite understand the notion; what was there to find?

At almost-29, I finally get it.

My years in the suburban home taught me a few lessons. One Saturday evening, as I finally sipped my chai on the deck after spending the afternoon tirelessly cleaning 2500 square feet of meticulously decorated and carefully furnished living space, the dim light bulb above my head began to glow. I was going to be doing this every weekend for the next 40 years. With the Canadian healthcare system, probably even longer.

In a desperate attempt to put together the pieces after hitting the metaphorical brick wall, my mind began to take a second look at that carefully laid out timeline. Where did I go wrong? Everything was so diligently thought out and planned — why wasn’t I happy here?

Time and time again, my thoughts would return to my undergrad days. Amidst the horrors of midterms and exams, I was happy. My favorite pastime was walking the streets of downtown, turning strangers into friends, enjoying the sights and sounds of the morning hustle and bustle, and enjoying the culture I was immersed in. Everything about the city life made me smile.

And, here I was sitting alone in the dream house — literally hearing crickets. This is not me, I think to myself.

Somewhere, somehow, I messed up.

My doubts are drowned in joy when I find out I am pregnant. I tell myself that my suburban home will make sense when it is filled with baby toys in the backyard, a nursery, and playroom. As excited first time parents, we renovate, we decorate, and we strip our home of sharp corners and glass tops.

Then comes baby. I am told to take it easy — no stairs, my midwife says. I feel isolated in my bedroom, but oblige. Healthy mommy means happy baby. My body is en route to recovery, but the gray skies and frigid weather keep my mind isolated. As I peer out of my bedroom window, I see into the neighbor’s living room. She sits alone watching television. Again, my mind returns to memories of the city streets.

Icy December days go by at a snail’s pace. It is March. My husband receives a job offer from a company in San Francisco. In a whirlwind, the house is on the market, our flight is booked, a deposit for a 700 square foot apartment has been made. We are moving next month. My friends and colleagues struggle with the news.

“You just had a baby, and you’re trading your suburban home for a city apartment?!” They are in disbelief. I laugh in response because I know it’s the unconventional route. I laugh because this sequence of events is nowhere to be found on my timeline.

I look back at the way things have unfolded over the course of the last year. I could never have foreseen this life-changing move. I think back to the last year of motherhood, and laugh at my timeline. I am reminded that there is no better teacher than life itself. Sometimes our plans guide us, and sometimes we guide our plans. We learn about ourselves each step of the way. Our mistakes are what teach us about who we are and what makes us happy. We may stumble, but quickly get back up, and stand a little taller.

I no longer walk alone. Now, I walk the city streets accompanied by a little man. He, like his mama, loves the sights and sounds of the city. He greets strangers, and befriends them instantly eager to tell tales of his adventures. He enjoys watching the streetcars roll by, and counting the helicopters in the sky. He leads the way to the local cafe where we watch butterflies flutter through the garden and toddlers play in the dirt.

His smiles and giggles are all the proof I need to reassure myself that I haven’t done my son a disservice by moving to the city. I’m not raising my son in the suburbs. And, as it turns out, that’s quite alright.

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Photo credit: loquevenm / Foter / Creative Commons 

Stories

There’s always that one story. The one childhood story your parents tell over and over. You’ve heard every minute and vivid detail of the story and you’re not sure if it’s a memory of your own or one that’s been implanted as a result of sheer repetition.

For me, it’s a story about my toddler days — how I would pick my clothes out, get dressed, organize my books and crayons in my bag, hold my brother’s hand and walk to school together. My dad always says he remembers the sound my payal made as I took those tiny toddler steps down the path. My mom adds details about my frock — how it was one she had sewn by hand, and one that I insisted on wearing often. They both laugh when they recount how talkative I was by the age of 3, eager to share everything I did at school each day.

I’ve heard these details a million times. When I listen to their stories, I understand that they are talking about me; but, truth be told, I have no recollection of this time nor do I make a connection with the girl they speak so fondly of. I don’t know the girl who wore her payal to school. I know she made my parents very happy; and so, for years, the stories brought a smile to my face.

Not anymore. Now, these stories bring nothing but tears.

I cry because, until now, I didn’t truly understand the depth of their happiness and laughter. Until now, I didn’t understand just how precious these memories are to them. Until now, I didn’t understand why these stories were told so often.

These unimportant narratives are more than just toddler tales — they are proof that there are two people in this world who know me better than I know myself. They knew that little girl — her laugh, her cries, her likes and dislikes, her little quirks and habits, the sound of her payal chiming through the house — long before my very first recollections. They knew the me that existed before I knew of myself. I don’t know all that much about the girl they speak of, even though she is me. I do know one thing for sure. She was a little girl who was — no, is — someone’s world. And, most importantly, she was showered with so much love as a child.

Parenthood is scattered with epiphanic moments, and this is one. I see the door revolving as I slowly enter the world of the storyteller. With a blink of an eye, I will be the one wearing a wide grin and teary-eyed as I recall scenes of my toddler chasing bubbles through the park. I will be the one who will tell him how much he loved being held at night and the silly, nonsensical lullabies I would sing. I will be the one who will tell him how fondly I remember his ‘All done!’ and ‘Goo-night, mommy’. 

The thought that my son will not remember his early childhood breaks my heart; he won’t remember how much fun we had at the beach last week — the anticipation in his eyes as the waves slowly rolled in, his uncontrollable giggles when his feet sunk in the sand, or the fact he insisted on wearing not one but two pairs of sunglasses. He won’t remember when we ate lunch watching the flamingos at the zoo, or when we chased wild parrots and butterflies in the garden. He won’t remember the afternoon at the library when we read dozens of books in one sitting. He won’t even recall the rare moment we spent calmly walking hand-in-hand by the waters edge last Monday.

Each of these moments are precious little treasures in my heart. While it is sad he won’t remember any of it, it is also extraordinary. Extraordinary because these memories aren’t like the videos or photos stored on my phone or the cloud. They don’t face extermination as a result of a toilet bowl toss. These memories are forever mine. They are mine to close my eyes and think of when I want to experience the truest, most beautiful, and purest form of love that exists. They are mine to one day share with him so he knows how much he was loved.

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Photo credit: maessive / Foter / Creative Commons 

Ten Minutes

Last month, my son dropped his morning nap. It happened too suddenly (for me) and it took (me) some time to adjust. His afternoon nap time was up in the air — one day at 11AM, the next day at 1PM. One particularly strange day, he didn’t go down until 2PM and slept an epic 3 hours. Hallelujah, right? Nope. I quickly paid the price for this luxury. Bedtime was hellish — and I am being quite generous with my words.

That night, when my son finally drifted off, I actually heard an angelic tune resonate from the other room. Turns out it wasn’t angels singing, it was my laptop. It was a Skype call from my mom. Every few days, she calls to talk to me  — not her grandson, but me. I emphasize this because there was a very drastic shift in the object of everyone’s attention from the time I was pregnant to the time I became a mother. My mom was one of the few (perhaps, only) people that made sure I didn’t disappear into the shadows after childbirth.

The melody continues, and I answer the call.

Mom: You look horrible. What happened? 
I look down at my pasta sauce stained T-shirt and let out a big sigh. The little window on the right corner of my screen displays a person I do not recognize.
Me: It’s been a rough day, Mom. We are still adjusting to the single nap.
Mom: When was the last time you got your eyebrows done?
Me: I don’t know. But, thanks for pointing that out.
Mom: I’m sorry. I know that’s not what you want to hear right now.
Me: You’re right, it’s not.
Mom: It’s something you need to hear, though. I don’t want you to make the same mistake I did. Don’t make your life all about your children.
Me: Should you really be saying that?
Mom: Yes. There is no shame in being a woman first, and a mother second. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. You will be a better mother for it.
The subject changes and we discuss the crazy Canadian weather, upcoming family functions, and hang up a few minutes later. 

Her words stay with me long after the talk.

It’s been a month since that conversation, and I still think of it. I think of the days when I take the time to shower and put on my makeup before I go out. I think of the rare day or two in the past year that I have gotten my hair done. I think of the afternoons when I opt for a flattering dress instead of a hoodie and sweatpants.

There is something that these small acts all have in common. They transport me back to a time when I was in the spotlight — when every thought and action wasn’t intertwined with the What about my child? questionAnd, perhaps most importantly, I realize that these simple details do make me a better mother.

When I put on a dress and pull a comb through my hair, he points at me and says “pweety mommy!” I don’t know how or where he learned these words. I don’t even know if his 17-month-old mind comprehends the meaning of what he has just uttered. Regardless, I am taken aback by his words; so much so that I get unexpectedly choked up.

Yes, I want to teach my son that his superficial exterior is never a representation of who he is on the inside. But, for some strange reason, this simple compliment about my appearance means so much to me at this very moment. I know he loves me regardless of how stained my T-shirt is or how many tangles populate my birds nest, but it is still so nice to hear those words.

I have lived a life where my value was at least partially determined by my physical appearance. I am not sure if that is the fault of society, my upbringing, or perhaps simply my approval-seeking personality. Wherever the fault lies, the truth is when I look good, I feel good. I stand a little taller. I walk with a little more confidence. I smile more. I laugh more. Somewhere along the way, my physical appearance became tied to my emotional well-being.

All of this leaves me a little confused and conflicted. Doesn’t this contradict everything I have ever believed? I have always felt strongly about not letting my outward appearance define who I am as a person. So why have things suddenly changed?

I am reminded of my mother’s words. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. For some people that might mean eating healthy; for some it may mean spending time reading non-rhyming literature; and for others, it may mean taking a few moments to be the woman you once were before you proudly wore the Mommy name tag. 

And, that’s just it. It’s not so much about my appearance as it is about putting myself first — even if it just for ten minutes. Those ten minutes are the short, but much needed, recess from a day in which I always put myself last. Those ten minutes make me feel like a real person — an individual who is part of society. And, like my mother pointed out, those ten minutes allow me to return to my demanding job feeling good about myself. Those ten minutes make me a better mom.

Makeup Application
Photo credit: Kris Kesiak Photography / Foter / Creative Commons

This Mother’s Day All I Want to Say is… I’m Sorry

Last year, it was my first Mother’s Day as a mom. My son was six months old at the time and I was just so incredibly exhausted. I wanted to fall to my mother’s feet and say, I get it. I finally understood why Mother’s Day wasn’t just a silly Hallmark holiday — it represented so much more. The immeasurable sacrifices mothers make are forgotten for 364 days of the year as they live in the shadows of their children; but for one day a year, we stop and say Thank You, Mom. 

A year has gone by, and each day of the last year I have thought of my own mother. Both in times of hardship and success, I have thought of only her.

This mother’s day all I want to say is I’m sorry. 

I’m sorry for laughing at you when you ask questions. There was a time that I bombarded your ears with countless silly questions. You sat me on your lap and explained every tiny and unimportant detail of the world to me. You listened. You cared.

I’m sorry for spending so many mornings sleeping in while you worked. How many of your nights were spent swaddling, holding, and rocking? How many nights were lost in tooth aches, tummy aches, and high fevers? How many nights were spent staring at the clock wondering why I wasn’t home yet? You have lost count.

I’m sorry for not listening to your life lessons. You share your experiences so I don’t make the same mistakes you once did. Every time I stumble and fall, your heart shatters into a million little pieces and you are left to pick each one of them up. You simply pray that I learn from it and grow.

I’m sorry for calling you mean and heartless when you imposed a curfew. You were hurt, but you didn’t let it show. The truth was that your heart was walking outside of your body, and the mere thought of your little girl in harms way terrified you to your very core. You faced harsh words and teenage fury for the sake of my safety and well being.

I’m sorry for every time I walked away from you. You tickled and played games with my tiny baby toes, and ever so carefully massaged these feet — long ago, when these feet were too tiny to walk away. You gave these two feet enough strength to stand tall and face the world.

I’m sorry for every time I raised my voice at you. With the same lips and voice, you showered me with millions of kisses and sung lullabies until I drifted off to sleep in your arms. It was your gentle voice that soothed the tears and pain of unfriendly friends and unkind words.

I’m sorry for every time I spoke words of hate and anger. From the moment I was born, you rained your boundless love on me. You spoke only with kindness and pure love. You created a world for me where hate and anger ceased to exist.

I’m sorry for being impatient with you. You held my hand and guided me as I took my first steps and said my first words. You showed me the beautiful world of books and the wonderful things crayons and pens can create. You were never impatient — always caring and gentle.

I’m sorry for insisting on being independent. Every time I fell to the ground, you picked me up and dusted me off. You told me to keep going and keep trying. My cuts and scrapes were visible, your pain was not.

I’m sorry for thinking you were weak. You fought monsters in closets, warded off spooky nightmares, and held me close until I fell asleep by your side. When bones were broken, blood was lost, and tiny arms hooked tightly around your neck, you didn’t fall apart. Your determination and strength was unwavering. You are the bravest person I know.

I’m sorry for not telling you how much I love and appreciate you every single day. I won’t wait until Mother’s Day — I will start today.

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Photo credit: Fabio Trifoni / Foter

 

Bubbles, Bubbles, Everywhere!

As my child perfects the art of blowing bubbles, we’ve gone through several liters of bubble solution in the past week (most of which has ended up on the ground/carpet). Most of my DIY projects are initiated when Target fails me. So when the shelves of Target were void of Miracle Bubbles, I had no choice but make my own. I knew it was a simple ‘recipe’, but I was very skeptical of the homemade bubble recipes. Most recipes call for glycerin, but I don’t have any glycerin in my cupboards. I found one that used sugar instead. Tried it. Works. Pretty well, I might add.

Bubbles 
500mL (2 cups) warm water
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid (I had Gain handy, I hear Joy works best)
1/4 cup sugar

Dissolve and enjoy!

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Cooking With Kiddies Recipe Share: Pizza Dough

We made mini pizzas at our first Cooking with Kiddies class last week. It was a success! The kids had a chance to get their hands messy and participate in the meal-making process. Most of all, they enjoyed finally munching on the product of their hard work!

A few of you had asked for me to share my pizza dough recipe, so here it is.

Homemade Pizza Dough

1/4 cup warm water (hot to the touch, but not boiling)
1 tsp sugar
1 pack yeast
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt

1. In 1/4 cup warm water, add 1 pack of yeast and 1 tsp sugar. Dissolve. Cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes until it foams.
2. In mixing bowl, mix flour with salt, oregano, basil, parmesan, and garlic powder.
3. Add yeast solution. Knead dough by adding more water until ball forms.
4. Cover dough with moist cloth and let sit for at least an hour.

Makes 4 mini pizzas or one large pizza.
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Dear Cashier

It will be a quick trip to the grocery store, I think. I’ve got time before dinner. I’ll pick up a few essentials and be on my way. I peek over the top of the stroller and watch the little guy munching contently on a snack. Perfect.

Milk — check. Crackers — check. Tomatoes — he looks over the pile and yells “Peek-a-Boo!” I smile and watch him befriend a stranger on the other side of the tomato pyramid. A few more rounds of the game, and we continue along to pick up some bread. I keep a watch on him to make sure he’s doing alright.

The line is long, and I know I’m testing his patience. I sing songs, but he isn’t interested. His whines finally transform into screams. We’re almost done, honey. Just a few more minutes and we’ll be on our way home. I look around. The store is far too crowded this Friday evening for me to let him walk around. Just a few minutes.

He wails.

And, something projectile follows.

I pull the stroller to the side and take care of the soiled sweatshirt. He continues to cry. I am so tired that I want to join him. Let’s put our jacket on and go outside. It’s too cold to go out without a jacket, sweetheart. Maybe we’ll see some doggies on the way home. He fights back and is inconsolable. He is frustrated with my pleas and pulls at the boxes we are parked beside. I watch in utter horror as the 10-foot chip bag tower tumbles to the ground.

THIS IS NOT HAPPENING.

Suddenly, it’s over. Just like that.

His sobs are replaced with giggles, and he shrieks with excitement not anger. I am confused and almost startled with this unpredictable turn of events. I look over my shoulder and see the Safeway cashier jump out from behind the counter, eyes wide, wearing a silly grin, and hands in the air. There are at least ten customers in his line, not one of them angry or upset with his unusual behavior. In fact, two of them sacrifice their spot in the lineup to help me re-stack the chip bag tower.

The cashier continues to entertain my son as I slip on his jacket, and he quickly scans the four items in my basket. I look back and notice that no one is muttering under their breath because I’m being given special treatment by this cashier. As I stick the items in my stroller, he offers some stickers to my little boy. He beams with excitement. The stickers say Thank you. I swallow a lump in my throat. I can’t cry. Not here. I fight back the tears with a smile. I mouth the words Thank You to him because I know if I try to summon a voice, I will begin to cry.

I walk out of the store in amazement. Amazed at how quickly things went from awesome to awful. Amazed at how quickly they went back to awesome. Motherhood has been a whirlwind, I tell everyone. But, this — what happened today — was something that gives the term whirlwind an entirely different definition.

I am most amazed at the cashier. He could have responded in disgust, in frustration, or as I would expect, he could have chosen to not respond at all to the horrific scene that was unfolding before his very eyes. But, instead he chose to help a flustered, overwhelmed, and exhausted mama. There isn’t a Thank You sticker big enough to express my gratitude towards that man.

As much as I strive to do things independently, today I am reminded that it does take a village to raise a child. I have been blessed to have found myself in a village full of loving people who treat my son no less than their own. And, as I witnessed today, even the strangers in my village lend a hand when I need it the most. For that, I am ever so thankful.

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How My Son Taught Me to Walk

I want to say hurry up. I want to say we’re getting late, and my already lengthy ‘to-do’ list isn’t getting any shorter. I want to tell him that it’s just a rock he’s been staring at for the last 2 minutes, and that there isn’t anything special about it.

But, then I see the look in his eyes. Excitement. Wonderment. Curiosity. Awe.

So, instead of saying all the things I want to say, I stop and sit. Amidst the busy lunch crowds that populate the city streets, I sit cross-legged alongside my one-year-old and stare at a rock. It is small, smooth, and blue. There is a little shiny spot that catches the rays of the sun beating down on us this hot Monday afternoon. He is amazed by the tiny speck of light that seems to radiate from the rock.

When his attention is finally diverted, he takes another couple of steps with that adorable toddler gait of his and stops again. This time a fallen leaf has caught his eye. He picks it up, and runs his finger alongs the veins. It catches the wind and brushes up against his face. He giggles and exclaims “tickle!” I smile. Suddenly, he points to his ear. “Birdie! Hear it!” Through the traffic and bustle of busy streets, I hadn’t even noticed the robin’s nest that sat in the tree directly above us.

He did.

He has my eyes — that’s what I’ve been told numerous times. But, today, I can see that he doesn’t. My eyes saw past all of this simple beauty and saw only the front door of our building. His eyes were not like mine at all. His eyes saw all the wonder that my eyes were blind to.

All it took was a few moments of sitting on the sidewalk for me to realize I was doing it all wrong. I was walking all wrong. Somewhere between my carefree school days and motherhood, I learned to drown myself in the mundane tasks of day-to-day life. The never-ending dishes, laundry, cooking, and cleaning have become the thoughts that sit at the forefront of my mind — while the simple pleasures of life have faded into the background. How sad.

Not at this moment, though. At this moment, a tiny person who has only existed for a mere 16 months is teaching me how to walk — how to really walk. He is teaching me to live in the present moment. When he stares at me with those wondrous eyes, I can tell he isn’t thinking about the bubbles he was just blowing at the park, he isn’t thinking about cookies, or the new toy (cardboard box) that he was playing with all morning. No. He is thinking about how the light shines off the rock, how the leaf feels against his face, and the sweet melodies that the robins sing in the afternoon. He is thinking about this very moment.

Again, I am taken aback by this unexpected life lesson. He is right. Because, the truth is, there isn’t any good that’s going to come from thinking about the unpleasant exchange of words that occurred between my husband and I last night. Nor is there any sense in thinking of the household chores that await me the minute I open the door to my home. I can’t telepathically apologize through my thoughts, and the chores are certainly not going to complete themselves as I dwell on the daunting list from the sidewalk.

I make a promise to myself. One that I will need to be reminded of time and time again. When I walk like a child, I will see the world through his eyes. When I walk like a child, I will remember

To stop ‘hurrying up’ and start ‘slowing down’
To stop and appreciate the simple beauty that surrounds us.
To see everything, no matter how minute or seemingly mundane, as nothing less than extraordinary.
To listen to the melodies of the blowing wind and birds.
To live in the present moment — not in the unchangeable past or the unpredictable future.
Because that is the real way to walk.

When he falls asleep in my arms that afternoon, I listen to his slow and rhythmic breathing. I smell his hair, and notice how it is beginning to curl around his ears. I carefully take in his face — long eyelashes, button nose, flushed cheeks. He shifts in my arms and nuzzles against my chest. I close my eyes and take a mental photograph of this moment. I am overcome with a sense of pride and pure love. What else will you teach me, son? 

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Super-Moist Guilt-Free Avocado Brownies

Super-Moist Guilt-Free Avocado Brownies

Good guacamole makes any party an instant hit, but few people know what else to do with these amazing fruits. Want more from your avocados? Try using them in baking. Avocados make exceptional substitutes for butter and other fats in baking recipes. Their subtle flavor is easily masked with traditional baking ingredients like cocoa powder and vanilla extract. Avocados provide all the moisture and creamy texture of fats, without the unhealthy side effects.

Check out my recipe for these delicious Super-Moist Guilt-Free Avocado Brownies over at Musings of a SAHM.

The Heartbreak of ‘Meatless Mothering’

It’s been months since my last outing sans-stroller, and I am delighted to be perusing a non-laminated, non-sticky menu at a ‘grown-up’ restaurant. I skim through it quickly, looking for the small carrot image that will be printed near the entree I will be eating this evening. There’s one. It looks like I’ll be having mushroom pot pie tonight. Not bad, I think to myself.

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Most people are faced with dozens of food choices when they go out, which might make the decision-making process confusing. Not me. Most restaurants sport a menu with no more than two or three carrot-marked entrees. I don’t find the lack of choice frustrating or bothersome at all; but, that’s probably because I know of nothing else. I have been a vegetarian my entire life.

When I tell people I am a vegetarian, they are often surprised, in awe, or just confused. Regardless of the emotion, the response is always amusing. “You don’t eat ANY meat? Then what do you eat?” is one that I hear far too often. I always explain how lucky I am to be born in an Indian household in which the vegetarian options are so numerous, you could have a different vegetarian meal every day of the year.

The challenge exists only when I step out of the house. That has always been the case.

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I love being a school prefect. I wear my badge proudly. Sometimes I wear it at the grocery store, too. I’m the youngest prefect in my school, and I am honoured by this fact. It’s Pizza Day today, which means I am going class-to-class handing out pizza.My hair is tied back in a tight ponytail. I fix my skirt, and make sure my shirt is tucked in.

Morning gym class and math olympics have left my mind and body exhausted as well as my stomach grumbling. I finish up my deliveries, and rush back to my third grade homeroom to devour my own lunch. The lunch supervisor hands me a pepperoni slice.

“No. I ordered cheese. I always order cheese.” I speak with conviction, but wary not to be disrespectful.

“Sorry,” she says. “We’re all out.” She picks off the pepperoni with her bare fingers, and hands me the slice.

I eat it. The slice is meatless, but I can still smell the pepperoni. I am distracted all afternoon, and rush out of the building as soon as I hear the bell. My walk home is quiet and slow. As I finally arrive at my doorstep, I start sobbing uncontrollably. My eyes search through the waves of tears for my mother’s eyes. Only she will understand.

****

As an adult, I am eager to explain the reason behind my vegetarianism. It is not because of cultural or religious reasons, as others often presume based on the colour of my skin. I am not another person to jump on the veggie bandwagon because it is the fad of the month. No, I am a vegetarian for moral reasons. I do not think it is right to eat animals. That’s all there is to it.

I have felt this way as long as I can remember. However, even as an outspoken child, I did not have the courage to speak up about it like I do now. Instead, when my six-year-old brother shoved a chicken nugget in my mouth, I made quite the dramatic scene in McDonald’s. Through the screams and tears, I even managed to send him on a guilt trip with a detailed story about how the nugget was probably the mother of the cute little chicks we were taking care of in our kindergarten class that year.

So when we began to think about my son’s upbringing, the decision to raise him vegetarian was an easy one. For me.

I know I have my work cut out for me. I know the dreaded day will come when he will want to try something from his father’s meat-filled plate. I know I will have to hear other parents question whether vegetarianism is healthy for a child, or why I am imposing my own dietary choices on my child. I know the day will come when I will be the one opening the front door to find my little boy drowning in his own tears, and I will witness my heart shatter in front of my very eyes as I realize that even a mother’s heartfelt prayers and tight embrace will not shield him from this world.

The challenges I will face, the words I will hear, the heartbreak I will experience – will all make me question my decision.

Only for a second.

But then, I will realize that all parents dedicate their lives to teaching their children what they believe are good values and morals. Parents are always telling their children, ‘Don’t lie. Be kind. Respect your elders.’ So if my set of values includes ‘Be kind to animals.’ why shouldn’t I share this with my son?

Like all parents, I will do my part to share my beliefs. I will show him where his food comes from because it is my responsibility to arm him with the power of knowledge. The intent is to give him opportunities to experience healthy and delicious vegetarian meals so he realizes that living a meatless life is not impossible. As he grows older, I hope that he will think critically about his food and understand that even dietary choices are moral decisions, and not simply made for health reasons or reasons of convenience.

When that dreaded day does come and he asks to try a chicken nugget, I know I have no choice but to oblige. In the end, we hope to raise a child who will form his own sense of morals and values that resonate strongly with him. They may match mine, or they may not.

This post originally appeared on MasalaMommas.

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Photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography / Foter / CC BY