I, like many, have a love-hate relationship with New Year's resolutions. Nearly every year, I declare with haughty elitism that I'm above such nonsense. And nearly every year, in the back corners of my mind, I think, "Hmm, this year, I will take up fencing and commit to practicing no less than six hours a day."
This year, I'm going for simple; I'm going on a New Year's resolution diet. I know, I know. Fencing would be so much cooler. I wish my resolution were something adventurous — perhaps manually carrying the snows of the Arctic to the tip of Kilimanjaro without a single flake melting or something Zen, such as listening to the ocean until she spells out my purpose, or something punny, such as listening to the ocean until she spells out my porpoise, or something controversial, such as arresting Santa for breaking and entering and animal cruelty (because reindeer hate heights). But 2020 took a lot out of all of us, so for 2021, a diet will have to do.
It began when the general state of the country led me to not so much inhale sweets as be on an ice cream IV. Then the pandemic hit, and we were home all day. We could never keep enough chips in the house for the all-day snacking. The RV trip was the final double blow. 1) I could walk back and forth from the front end to the back end 800 times in a day and only clock about 16 steps. 2) Our small fridge and small amount of cabinet space meant we had room for only one week's worth of meals for the family. No more cooking up to each person's specifications. No chicken for this one, no broccoli for that one, no meat at all for me, no spicy version and mild version. No, we all had to eat from the same pot. And with young picky children, that pot quickly began to hold only macaroni and cheese, frozen pizza, and tacos. 2020 isn't going down as the healthiest year ever for many reasons. Having my butt turn into a couch is just one of them.
My friends all said that I should just cook what I want and the kids would have to deal. How I laughed in their faces. No, no, my kids will choose starvation before they eat what I want to make for myself. But since I began this diet, things have become interesting.
On Jan. 1, I had McDonald's for breakfast, a milkshake for lunch and ramen noodles for dinner. I'm nothing if not disciplined when it comes to a resolution. "No matter," I told myself. "Tomorrow will be better." On Jan. 2, I had a doughnut for breakfast and nachos for lunch. A marked improvement!
On Jan. 5, the diet actually began to resemble something in the neighborhood of a diet. There were fruit and whole grains and fish and veggies. The kids weren't so sure. Where were the wholesome chicken nuggets that were surely naturally in the shapes of dinosaurs? Where was the "Frozen"-shaped macaroni? If I'm not eating a noodle resembling Elsa's hair, what in fact am I eating?
This is where blog mommies will say they held their foot down and their children now enjoy a well-balanced diet. I held my foot down, and my children did something other than eat what I made. They decided to make themselves something different. For their first meal, my children made ham, peanut butter and orange slice sandwiches, which they dipped in applesauce and teriyaki sauce intermittently. I thought I might throw up. They, on the other hand, repeated, "Mmm, Mama, this is better than anything you've ever made!"
At first, I was offended. I've tried for years to make these kids happy, and they're excited about a gag-worthy mixed bowl of hummus, Cocoa Puffs and grapes? But then I was reminded that this is exactly what I've always wanted, to make food I like and have my children still eat — and, despite the awful combinations, eat fairly healthily.
My daughter is currently screaming "Mmm!" at the top of her lungs. She is eating olives and strawberry yogurt on a hot dog bun. "Mama, you gotta try this!"
This may be the first resolution I stick to.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Follow Katiedid Langrock on Instagram, at http://www.instagram.com/writeinthewild. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.