If it weren’t for the Internet, many of us might have had the lucky destiny of only encountering a handful (or fewer!) of “sanctimommies” throughout our parenting lives. But the Internet can make a legion out of any group, and before you know it, you’re feeling like a crappy mom because you pulled over and got McDonald’s that one time.
Ignoring everything we know about most things being OK in moderation just so we can make ourselves feel bad or worse—and let other people make us feel bad—is ridiculous of course, but it happens all the time to moms everywhere.
Even though I actually can’t even tell you when I last ate McDonald’s, I can tell you that I was excited about the McDonald’s “BagTray” when I saw this yesterday. I like the idea. No more runaway fries! And if James Franco were still working at McDonald’s, that combined with the BagTray might turn me into an occasional customer, who knows.
Here’s the thing: We don’t have to feel weird about thinking that McDonald’s isn’t all evil all the time. We can salute them for bringing kale to the menu, and when we’re on a road-trip or otherwise just plain pressed for the reprieve that comes with expediency, we can buy something we know isn’t nutritionally dense and give it to our kids and walk away from it all without feeling awful. You don’t have to beat yourself up for making the best (or second-best, whatever) out of a bad situation. You’re going to have moments where kids fed with borderline crap beats out hungry kids made to wait for the organic fruit salad at home. Parenting doesn’t have to be so black and white—we could all take some notes from the parents of the ’70s.
Above all else, remember these things before you decide to get militant about anything.
1. Stress, more so than occasional junk food or disposable off-brand diapers, is the leading cause of illness. Few people can live with rigidity without feeling stress, and you probably aren’t one of them (are you a monk?).
2. Optimism is something kids learn from their parents, and if you view the world as one big negative threat, that’s going to rub off on your kids.
3. Flexibility might just be the key to happiness and increased productivity, according to recent research, so establish your principles, but always leave some room for openness.
All of this is to say, if I’m in Hungary (and hungry!) in the near future, I’m probably going to go to McDonald’s and try out that BagTray and not wince for even a second over it.