Long before I was a mom, I remember going over to my friend Ashley’s house and hanging out with her and her sweet toddler quite often. Knowing that motherhood was something I was hoping to one day achieve in my own life, I tended to idolize her and glean every ounce of child-rearing knowledge I possibly could.
One day when I was at her house, her little girl was strapped in her high chair, anxiously awaiting her afternoon snack. Ashley was busy cleaning up the toddler’s room, so I offered to help out with snack time.
“That’d be great,” Ashley shouted from the back of the house. “Could you cut up an apple for her?”
“No problem!” I called back, grabbing an apple from the basket on the kitchen counter and a knife from the drawer. I cut the apple up into what I believed to be quite satisfactory pieces–very small, easy for a toddler to tackle and probably not choke on. I dumped the little apple pieces onto the high chair tray and watched that happy little girl go to town. I was very pleased with my work, for all of three seconds, until Ashley came out of the bedroom.
“Oh no no no!” she frantically cried. “No, she can’t have the skin of the apples.” She quickly swiped all of my hard work off of the high chair tray and began to haphazardly remove the skins as I blinked my eyes in bewilderment.
“Why can’t she have the skins? Is it because they’re hard for her to chew?”
“No, it’s because these apples aren’t organic, and I don’t want her ingesting any pesticides.”
My eyes popped open wide and my stomach clenched tight. I thought to myself, “Did I just unknowingly poison my friend’s toddler?”
(Spoiler alert: that toddler is now almost eight years old, so, no, I did not poison her.)
That moment was so traumatizing for me that, almost four years later when I became a mom myself, it catalyzed me to only feed my children organic food. After my first son was born I’d go to the farmers’ market and grab homegrown, organic fruits and vegetables to make my own baby food. It was such a huge pain in the neck, but the alternative was poisoning my offspring, which was obviously a terrible choice.
Fast forward to today. I have two boys who are five and two and eat almost constantly. And organic food is hella expensive and can be extremely time-consuming to prepare. And you know what?
I just can’t anymore, guys. I just can’t.
Here’s the rub. I’m a writer and my husband is a public school teacher. We aren’t made of money, nor will we ever be, and we aren’t made of time, either. As much as I wish I could feed my kids all organic food, it’s just not a financial or logistical reality at this stage in life. And up to this point, I was feeling pretty guilty about it. How could I not? By going to the store and getting – GASP – non-organic produce, I thought I was willingly poisoning my children. But you know what?
The first time I caved and threw a frozen pizza in the oven and fed it to my kids, my eyes opened. Not only were they NOT poisoned, they were also happy. And I was happy. And my husband was happy. And we went to sleep and all woke up the next day, totally fine.
They’re SO fine, and I’m SO done. I cannot bear this burden anymore. I don’t have the money or the time to feed my kids all-organic food, and I simultaneously don’t have the energy to feel guilty about it anymore.
You know what my kids ate for breakfast today? Organic yogurt and strawberries. But you know what they had for dinner last night? Leftover delivery pizza. For lunch today they had organic turkey sandwiches with Goldfish, and for dinner they’re having boxed macaroni and cheese, maybe with some grocery-store-brand canned peas or carrots to go along with it. They get a little bit of everything, not all of one thing, and you know what? They’re alive. They’re thriving. They’re happy and, barring the occasional cold, super healthy.
And my husband and I are SANE. Which is the biggest win, I think, of all. Hello, half-assing it. Goodbye, guilt. It was nice knowing you, but I’m ready to move on.