Monday, February 15, 2016

Schooled by Burger King

Background:  Two of our children go to public school. Our other two stay home with me. One, I homeschool. Our other child is three. We haven’t deeply considered his formal education yet (which is highly unusual and suspicious where we live). Also, I have stronger feelings than most about nutrition.


One morning a couple weeks ago, I woke up at 8:15, disoriented.  I immediately called Matt to see what was wrong. While he does take all four children on the school drop off routine each morning, he’s usually home before 8.

Matt answered his phone, sounding chipper. “I’m at Burger King, eating breakfast with the kids. We’ll be home in about 45 minutes.”

I burst into tears and mumbled goodbye.

When Matt came home, he approached me warily, as if we’d just met and he was trying not to completely blow it.

“Thank you!” I exuded.

“Whew! I couldn't tell on the phone if those were happy tears or if you were upset that I was feeding the kids fast food,” he said, obviously relieved.

“I was so happy! I couldn’t imagine a better gift. Thank you!” [Again, I said this blubbering and barely understandable.]

The honest truth is that, years ago, I WOULD have cried because my husband had made the poor (and, possibly, unforgivable) decision to feed our children fast food. Sadly, at the time, I was more concerned about meeting my parenting ideals than I was about recognizing and accepting Matt’s gift. When I look back on it, he has rarely (if ever) given the kids fast food out of convenience for himself.

When he takes the kids out to eat spontaneously, he’s trying to help me, and he’s doing it to say, “Thank you.” “I love you.” “I appreciate you.” “I couldn’t do what you do.”

He takes the children out because he wishes he could give me a week away at a spa (or at a nice hotel with a huge library- which would be far better than a spa for me). That gift is highly impractical for a variety of reasons in our family, so he does what he CAN do and I’m finally learning to appreciate it.

I’m trying to embrace a new-for-me concept:  

Lowering the Bar (a lot)
Gratitude (a lot)
Healthier, Happier Me

With me healthier and happier, our entire family is more relaxed.

The truth is, our family has complex needs* and we cannot handle any non-essential stress. [tweet this] Me unnecessarily adding stress weakens us. Even though I still do not personally think Burger King sausage patties are a healthy way to start the morning, I'll admit, our children are healthier consuming those sausage patties than they are being consumed by my heightened stress level.

However, those sausage patties did lead to intestinal problems that were not exactly calming.

I am thankful for learning an important lesson from Burger King, but, in an effort to give me a peaceful morning not followed by an afternoon and evening of sick children, Matt will likely be patronizing a local diner the next time he wants to surprise me with a quiet morning to myself.

*Our family's complex needs began with adoption. However, the honest truth is adoption quickly exposed our individual weaknesses and THAT is where most of the complexity comes in.

This post was originally published March 1, 2016


  1. Such wise words!! I have really struggled with this same thing. Ok, it's not exactly Burger King that stresses me out, but definitely the same idea. I have been trying to lower my expectations to a more reasonable level, but adding a ton of gratitude in there would help tremendously. Thanks for the brain food!

    1. Thanks, Jamie! My list of strange stressors is becoming shorter and shorter the longer I parent multiple children. There just isn't time for my drama. The struggle is real.

  2. Oh my gosh YES. I have learned to lower the bar a lot too. One of my things is that I HATE TV time. I just hate it. I don't mind us sitting down for a family movie, but I hate turning that thing on and letting my children waste their brains away as they watch it. A year or so ago I was completely exhausted and my husband started offering to let me sleep in on the weekends. I'd come downstairs and he would ALWAYS be watching cartoons with the kids. Those glazed over expressions... oof. But overtime I've learned to let it go a bit, because sleeping in a bit on weekends is DEFINITELY making me a better mom. Which probably offsets all the TV time.

    1. When we all the sudden get the sleep we need, we see more clearly and prioritize better:) At least I do. I completely get the TV thing too. Every snapshot of our lives proves we're constantly lowering the bar.

  3. That is one heck of a helpful equation. I'm going to try to remember all 3 parts.

    1. If only my emotions would stay out of the way, I'm sure I'd be able to implement it consistently. Guess we can try, right?

  4. Bless you for sharing, I am still learning not to add stress to our family life. Our little people have various needs and I am still striving to reach the place where I can be okay with out of the ordinary parenting.

    1. Thanks! It's a constant struggle for me. One day I hope it will be natural to hold loosely (or not at all) to things that truly do not matter in the long run.

  5. Isn't it amazing how God steps in when we are out of the way?I am glad you had that time and your husband recognized the need for respite. So many times the ability to be grateful, to let go and LET God be God in our lives, to lead us to love us so we can love one another is the start we need.

    I enjoyed this today!

    1. Thanks, Dawn. The breaks come as long as I'm humble enough to accept that they sometimes look unorthodox (and that's okay). Best to you and thank you for stopping by!

  6. We really need to get our gangs together. I've had to learn to lower the bar quite a bit myself and I love your outlook on the BK breakfast. I feel like that's something (not BK specifically) I need to work on myself. My husband picks up so much of the slack for me with the housework and will leave the vacuum out! To me, the whole house is still a mess because of that one little thing. Okay, maybe there are 10 things still out but it doesn't matter. He was helping ME. I still need to work on more gratitude for these things and less being upset about a sink full of dishes.

    1. Me too, Xanthe. I'm the one who cleans and leaves the vacuum out here though. Matt likely feels some of your frustration. I'm thinking the house will be clean in about 10 years. Our gangs would enjoy each other. At an outdoor venue- where there is a LOT of space to run.


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