Paradise Lost

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Chipotle is where modern parenting goes to die a deliciously painful death.

Four hours into a 10-hour car ride with our toddler and infant, we stopped for dinner – in hopes that somehow, some way a full belly would translate into sanity. I am convinced that Chipotle preys upon our demographic:

Do you want to eat “healthy”? Absolutely.

Do you want to eat around others who value their own health and, well, social snobbery? Yes, I guess.

Do you want to fight with another equally exhausted mother over a high chair? Okay, I see where this is going…

All of the inconveniences, of course, are forgiven (or at least forgotten) until your child has a messy diaper and you remember that there are no changing tables.

I think parenthood is a lot like trying to eat dinner at an overcrowded Chipotle with two children when all you want is five minutes of peace with a yummy burrito.

While we did survive dinner, there were moments that made us challenge everything we do as parents. One look around the restaurant, and I could see families huddled around a table and, often, a screen. Wouldn’t it just be easier to give into our “no screen” policy with the children?

Then there is the food fight. I believe our children could live off of bread, cheese, and sugar. In fact, I am convinced that if they were only offered these choices, meals would be quick and close to painless. Life experience, however, has shown us that detours on the healthy eating journey only lead to more work later with increasingly stubborn children. With all the strength our tired arms could muster, we found a way to insert the loaded spoon into semi-closed mouths.

Amazingly, my husband and I escaped as victors from a battlefield of rice, beans, and squeeze pouch goop.

For the remaining six hours of our road trip, I pondered the state of modern parenting. No question remains as to why young parents are so exhausted when grandmas and grandpas live more than eight hours from home. We’re so tired that we have forgotten what it means to be taken care of ourselves.

Hardest of all to bear as parents, I would argue, is the loss of our own paradise of familial identity. Screens, food, and cars will only get us so far.

Luckily, my tank is not quite empty, and I have a buddy for the long haul. Perhaps our children will even remember our successes more than our struggles.

After all, it was never about the beans and rice anyway.

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