I think every parent has one; a 'Big Issue'. Your parenting nemesis. The one thing you seem to have got fantastically wrong. The one thing that is guaranteed to have you wishing you could go and do something else. Anything else. As long as you don't have to deal with 'This' any more. For some it is sleep. For some potty training. For others, biting or hitting. For me, it is mealtimes.
Oh. My. God.
I don't know if there are enough words in the English language to sufficiently describe how I feel about mealtimes with the children. Despair, exasperation, injustice, futility....
I sit at the kitchen table, four-year-old to my right, two-year-old to my left and feel like I'm about to emerge from the trenches and face a hail of enemy fire. It occasionally starts out quite promisingly. Everyone comes running to the table in anticipation of the latest gastronomic delight and yet within a matter of minutes there is a cacophony of complaining and whingeing and refusing to eat and I want to poke my eyes out with a rusty stick and run for the hills.
I coax. I cajole. I pep talk. I play trains. I am every Thomas character that has ever been invented going into a tunnel mouth. Twenty minutes pass and we're still working our way through the meal. Then more complaining. Disinterest. Messing with drinks. Anything to distract from the business of eating. The two-year-old I can forgive. He's two for goodness sake but my eldest seems to be completely disinterested in his meals.
Thirty, forty minutes may go by as mouthful by painful mouthful we make a little bit of progress. And then I realise I have a fork in each hand, feeding two mouths either side of me and it all seems so ridiculous. I promised myself last week that this would be the last time I physically fed them both. I promised myself the same thing the week before, and the week before that and so on and so on.
I've always tried so hard to provide healthy, homemade food. I was pureeing every colour of vegetable imaginable from the moment I started weaning and always prided myself on my children's varied diet. So to be in this situation feels so unfair, so infuriating, soul destroying. It's my 'Big Issue'. The one that just won't go away.
"It's just a phase," my friends tell me and I want to believe they are right. But how long is a phase technically a phase and at what point is it acceptable to throw your hands in the air and the dinners on the floor? (I would not recommend this approach by the way as this just means you have to clean the floor as well as feel crap).
So there you have it. I struggle with mealtimes. Really struggle. Breakfast, dinner and tea. Three times a day I face this battle (unless it's cheese sandwiches, which usually go down no problem, but cheese sandwiches 24/7 does not really meet the 5-a-day rule does it?).
So tomorrow I will, again, approach the dinner table with a heavy heart and a forced smile; I will 'big-up' the meal as the most delicious thing known to mankind, offer promises of wonderful things to come if everything is eaten up nicely and hope, hope, hope that I emerge on the other side relatively unscathed.
So, what's your 'Big Issue?'