This Crazy Life

When Life Gives You a PB&J: Recognizing the Beauty in What’s Before You

Getting my two-year-old to eat a decent meal is like the ocean: it comes and goes in waves.

Sometimes it varies from day to day, and others it’s more of a weekly toss-up, but it’s pretty much a guarantee that when he wakes up each morning, I have no idea if I’ll be dealing with the appetite of a teeny, tiny bird or a ravenous lion.

So, although I always told myself I’d never be that mom, I have unabashedly become the mom that makes 17 different meals for her child in hopes that he’ll ingest something I place before him. Just a bite or two. I don’t even care what it is anymore, I just want him to eat some of it.

He’s usually pretty good about telling me exactly what he wants to eat and then refusing to eat it. So that’s fun. But I was hopeful when he stated that he wanted a PB&J for lunch, and proceeded to confirm this desire when I asked about 9,000 times if he was absolutely certain, that he would actually eat it. There was obviously no way he’d lie straight to my face 9,000 times, so I couldn’t help but to submit to his sophisticated request.

Now because I’m a stereotypically busy stay-at-home-mom with more important things to do than feed myself, I tend to nibble on bits and pieces throughout the day rather than waste my precious time sitting down to eat a full lunch. On this rare occasion, though, I’d already spent Sunday prepping a huge batch of chicken salad for my husband’s lunches that week; so, as I slaved away assembling Hudson’s feast, I toasted up some bread of my own for a chicken salad sandwich. I sure am living the high life today, aren’t I? I thought to myself. How luxurious!

With Hudson waiting so very patiently in his booster seat – he really is the sweetest, y’all – and pure excitement radiating from within at the anticipation of my tasty treat, I skipped toward the table, both of our beautifully plated sandwiches in hand. I set them down, we said our prayers, and then, it was go time.

And, much to my elation, he dug in. Now when I say “dug in,” let me clarify: my husband and I have unintentionally but thoroughly confused our child by repeatedly asking him to not eat with his hands, so he doesn’t really “dig in” anymore, per se. Instead, he asks for a fork or “moon” to eat with, which really takes away from the typical visual of digging into a sandwich. But, upon arduously cutting it into 23 bite-sized pieces for him, he was perfectly content with his PB&J. To which the reasonable response in my head was a choir of angels singing, “Hallelujah!” on repeat.

That was until I took a bite of my sandwich.

The moment I raised that chicken salad sandwich toward my mouth, I watched his little eyes shift from his PB&J to whatever it was mom was about to enjoy. Regret instantly consumed me. Before the sandwich even touched my lips, I began to long for that pause button. Once paused, I’d then immediately rewind life to when I wasn’t a ding bat. Because non-ding bat Krista would’ve known that no matter how much Hudson was enjoying his own lunch, he’d want what mommy was having. Or at least a taste.

He no longer cared one iota about the meal I’d set before him, the one he was already delighting in; he’d honed in on the true prize, and out came that dreaded word: “Bite!” Well, there goes my lovely meal.

Once again being the sickeningly stereotypical mom that I’ve become, I totally caved. Because, 1. Hudson + any food = priority, and 2. I knew my sandwich would bring him joy.

So, there I was, feeding my toddler bites of my flawlessly prepared chicken salad sandwich. And in that innocent, seemingly trivial moment, I was suddenly taken aback by the sheer magnitude of truth that essentially smacked me across the face.

I had asked Hudson what he wanted for lunch. His answer, without hesitation: PB&J. Being the good, loving, caring mother that I am, I promptly constructed said sandwich. He was joyfully consuming his chosen meal until I swooped in with mine, a sandwich of a different variety. Recognizing the look of satistfaction on my face, undoubtedly greater than any he had received from his PB&J, he immediately wanted what I had. His focus had shifted from his perfectly crafted sandwich, that he had specifically requested, no less, onto my ostensibly “better” option.

How often am I just like my precious two-year-old? How often do I have something magnificent – exactly what I’ve requested, in fact – right in front of me, yet within seconds I shift my focus to what someone else has? How often do I tell myself that I’d be more satisfied, joyful, content – or simply more – with that other thing? How often do I find myself dissatisfied with precisely what I’ve asked my wholly good, loving, and caring Father to provide?

Hudson: he’s a tender, young, innocent little boy who knows no better than to long for the other option. As for me, I have absolutely no excuse. I need to stop chasing after this lofty ideal, this silly notion of what is better in this life, and instead thank God for the beautiful bounty that is before me. The bounty that I begged Him for.

So next time you sit down to lunch with your PB&J, I challenge you to savor every last bit of it. Don’t let your eyes even peek at the plate beside yours.

And if you inadvertently glance, as we oftentimes do, and find yourself pining after that chicken salad sandwich, press pause. Then remind yourself that that PB&J was the true desire of your heart before you sought “better,” and be satisfied.

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