It’s the guilt-free, simple, ease your conscious morning meal. I’m that mom. I utilize every guilt-free mom option I can get my busy fingers on.
Or should I say “Oatmeal?”
Maple & Brown Sugar, my favorite (note: present tense here). Loaded with enough sugar it would make a curious cat’s tail curl.
Oats so overly cut and diced and processed to taste like something that I tell myself “kids will want to eat more than good ole’ old fashioned oatmeal”.
And so we engage in this ritual of grab, shake, tear, pour, dilute, mix, microwave and viola – we eat, our kids eat, this.
During those summer lovin’, Boys to Men years came around, many of my adolescent thoughts turned the corner to find direction in one of two areas: boys at summer camp and which box of cereal would I be able to take to summer camp.
Boys? That’s a given. Nothing out of the ordinary from any teenage girls life. I was never one of those cool girls who didn’t desire the attention of boys. I liked boys and exercised way too much energy with attempt to persuade them to like me. No discussion needed. It was all hairspray and drama. The end.
Cereal though? This was almost as important in my world as choosing the next Pope was to the Catholic church, or which held my rainbow curled bangs in place – AquaNet or Suave. They’re all the same, aren’t they?
For 50 weeks out of the year I was pinned under my mom’s choice of rice krispies, oats (please see above) or cheerios. No character driven boxes of Post or Kellogg cereals in our cupboards. Only Kroger plain jane colorless cereals in this house. The same plain jane colorless cereal I pack in our snack bag as we head out on errands. I’m convinced cheerios could calm the most anxious of world leaders.
Bowl of Cheerios Mr. Putin?
Each summer though, as I prepared to spend two weeks with Grandma at summer camp my sisters and I were allowed to pick out any type of cereal we wanted! Golden Grahams, Life, Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Done. You got it! Anything. It was bliss. Sugary, calorie, cavity bliss.
And much like the Maple & Brown Sugar oats, these cereals were easy.
Pour milk over cereal.
Let the busy body boy chasing begin.
So after we got hitched,
after our year of traveling,
after finding a fire hazard apartment to rent for a pittance,
after looking into our cupboards and seeing only white empty shelves,
after a desire to simply fill my belly with comfort memories that carried with them a familiar taste I looked at Jake and declared, “We need some cereal in our home.”
The story is not far from what many others experience after returning home from spending a significant season of time overseas.
We drove to A&G‘s, grabbed a baskart and, like a crow stalking it’s next feast, we made our way to the cereal isle.
Where I found myself immediately in tears,
riding the cusp of a proper breakdown.
The setting was perfect.
Rows and rows and rows of each and every type of cereal I could ever imagine.
From the Count to the Tiger.
They was all there and I could take each and every one of my smiling friends home with me.
I could drown each and every sorrow, anxiety, and fear into an endless bowl of cereal.
Yet, all I could do was cry.
Actually, all I could do was weep.
It was all too much to take in.
Too many colors,
too many truths behind each box,
too many starving children buried in my memory.
I left A&G that day hungry.
Not one box of cereal underarm.
After a moderate sense of gained composure made it’s way back I rode my bike down the street to Aldi where I knew there were fewer cereal options to choose from. I grabbed the circular container of Old Fashioned Oats and headed home.
I needed simple.
I couldn’t make a choice.
I needed the choice to be made for me.
What chose me was a memory.
A memory of hours spent in India, cooking hot cereal for 50+ HIV/TB patients.
A memory of slow mornings that welcomed a reverence for the food we put into our bodies not only because it was nourishing and filling but because it simply was the what fed the most for the least.
A memory of needed simplicity.
I choose them because they first chose me.
I choose them because during the 15 minutes it takes to whip up a vat of oats for my family, I have a forced pause in a hurried morning to gather my thoughts, stir the pot and let my mind wander and wonder.
I choose them because it makes my mornings, my time with my children, simple. There is no battle over who eats what. We all eat Old Fashioned Oats. Some days banana peanut butter oats. Other days, chopped date oats. This morning? Apple, raisin, cinnamon oats.
I choose them because as we sit for our morning breakfast we see one Paul Revere, heavy bottomed pot in the center of our table as opposed to the boxes of endless reading and entertainment that take our attention off of one another. Old Fashioned Oats force us to talk with one another or let our minds wander elsewhere.
I choose them because in the mid-afternoon, a bite of cool leftover oats suits my wandering appetite just fine.
I choose Old Fashioned Oats because they are more healthy than cardboard.
I choose them because I need the process, the measuring, the waiting, the chopping involved in making a pot of Old Fashioned to remember those slow mornings and heed the wisdom that slower and simpler is always better.
Keep in mind, if a box of Cinnamon Life cereal were to be brought home by a doting husband or dropped off on our front doorstep by the Cereal fairy, devour it I will. In fact, I probably will hide it to prevent having the entertain the idea of sharing it with Little Tomato. I’m extremely selfish that way.
Which again is why I will continue to choose Old Fashioned Oats. I am, over all, better because they first chose me.
What’s your cereal love story?