My toddler ate a piece of broccoli at dinner tonight.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like an absolute rock star. At that moment, standing in my cluttered kitchen with crumbs everywhere, dirty dishes, half-full juice boxes and half-eaten apples on every inch of counter space, I was the JLo of dinnertime. All of a sudden the mess didn’t matter; my kid just consumed a vegetable. This is what it must feel like to be Beyonce, I thought. Or at least Gordon Ramsey. And, I’ll tell you—it felt good.
It also didn’t matter that it might have been the world’s smallest broccoli floret that only landed in his mouth because it accidentally stuck to his fork full of boxed mac and cheese, served with a side of Goldfish crackers. He didn’t notice the stowaway green because I let him eat dinner zoned out in front of the television.
I turned it on to distract him because, to be honest, I just needed a reprieve from the sippy cup symphony he was composing with every impatient bang on the table. I handed him a plate, a cup of milk, and a construction truck fork with one hand, threw a scoop of food into my patient dog’s bowl with the other hand, pressed the power button on the remote with my chin, all while bouncing my 7-week-old during the dreaded witching hour.
When the toddler snapped back to reality during a commercial and tossed the remaining broccoli on the floor, I didn’t flinch. It was too late, buster. You already ate a bite of green. Mom wins! I floated on cloud nine for the rest of mealtime, playtime, bath time, and bedtime. There were plenty of hiccups (per usual) but I didn’t care.
In case I haven’t mentioned it, my kid ate a piece of broccoli tonight.
Fast forward to 3 a.m., and I’m exhausted but awake, nursing the baby while scrolling through blogs, quotes, motherhood memes, helpful how-to’s and all those perfect pictures on Instagram. There were funny takes on the scene that had unfolded in my kitchen hours earlier—desperate mothers trying to survive the tornado of toddlerhood. Misery loves company, that’s for sure.
In contrast, then there were seemingly perfect mothers with their beautifully designed Bento boxes and tips on how to encourage your child to eat a well-balanced meal, including all the broccoli in the world. There were posts warnings about too much screen time (oops), articles about how to stay on top of household chores like dirty dishes (double oops), and stories explaining that lack of attention for family pets after you have kids can cause doggy depression (okay I’m going to stop counting my oops).
The messages canceled each other out as I scrolled. One empowering post said you shouldn’t base your value as a mother on trivial things like one bite of broccoli. (Which, for the record, I agree with—I wouldn’t have sweat it if he hadn’t eaten a bite of broccoli.) But the very next post detailed in 57 easy steps how to raise a good eater and how a lifetime of good eating habits depended on it. I studied the list like there would be a quiz on it tomorrow.
Soon, I started questioning everything. Who was I to celebrate one bite? Surely it didn’t cancel out all the other failures of the day. My mind started to spin, and even though the baby had drifted off to sleep, I sat up, worried that I was ruining my kids. Because the internet is telling me I am. I think. Right?
It got me wondering about the dynamic. There really ARE so many conflicting messages out there and you can’t possibly heed them all. Which ones do you take to heart? Which expert is right? And forget the internet; what about all the real-life advice you get from family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, your Amazon package delivery person? I literally have no idea which pearls of wisdom are worth holding on to. And that scares me.
But I do know that what I felt after that small bite of broccoli disappeared was real.
There are days when you just need a win. You need something to keep you going, even if it’s small, while you try to figure the rest out. Even if your win is someone else’s funny meme. And I am not above constructing the small victories—the mom equivalent of including something on your to-do list that you’ve already done just so you can cross it off (please tell me I’m not the only one who does this?).
So, in the midst of all the “noise,” here’s to today’s win, whatever it might be. And if you see something suggesting it doesn’t count, keep scrolling, mama. I’m here to say—it counts.