It’s been a hell of a summer for this mom. What started out as an amazing booked summer running an art program for kids at a fancy restaurant owned by famous people became a scramble to pay rent, when after one session they decided it wasn’t worth it and scraped the whole production.
This left me in a mad rush to find work (asap!) which was basically impossible as all summer teaching positions had been filled. So when the emails for various focus groups started to fill my inbox, I perked up.
No, I don’t have dermatitis, a hearing aid or suffer migraines. But when that one golden egg came in looking for moms of kids ages 6 to 10 and shop for healthy, organic snacks, $125 for one hour never looked so good.
I have no idea how I ended up on this focus group list; maybe my sister put me on it when I complained I needed money at some point? Perhaps I signed up myself when I was solely supporting myself from acting for 17 years, I added this to the mix? All I know is that shit rocks for moms! If you have downtime and fit the bill (after a phone interview) you too can find yourself making $150 for two hours and possibly more (they do all these weird early bird giveaway type of things) to talk in a group amongst other like-minded moms about things like packaging for kid’s food, kid’s bubbles bath or diapers.
When I “booked” the focus group, I can’t say I wasn’t happy. OK I was thrilled. I needed an easy hit of cash and I always find these fascinating. Why? Because I get to be around normal people. For someone who is immersed in Hollywood, it’s always exciting and refreshing to meet, as my old acting teacher used to call them, “civilians.”
In this moment I doubted everything I knew about parenting and food. I quietly accepted the fact that I suck and I've been slowly killing my kids for years.
In this case, a funny thing happened when I thought I was going to hang for 75 minutes with a bunch of super ordinary moms and talk about organic fruit roll ups.
I met another breed entirely. I met what can only be described as super moms. OK I live in Hollywood. I live across the street from the super upscale health-food store, Erewhon. I know my spirulina from my chlorella. I limit my kids' sugar. I feed them healthy whole foods.
Or so I thought.
Turns out I am a sloth of the worst kind.
Let's call them "Healthy Moms." Healthy Moms are rabid. Healthy Moms run a crazy tight ship when it comes to what they feed their kids. Healthy Moms make me feel like a mom who lives under a rock. When we discussed what types of cookies we give our kids, half of them said "Oh I don't give them cookies. I mean, maybe. On occasion. And then I bake them myself." In this moment I doubted everything I knew about parenting and food. I quietly accepted the fact that I suck and I've been slowly killing my kids for years.
I thought I was vigilant(ish). My kids don't eat fast food. Ever. I don't buy juice. But crap, I do get them lemonade when we eat out. But, at 6 and 10 they've never had soda, besides Zevia. At least never on my watch. I don't do Nutella! But apparently this not enough. Nope not in the eyes of Healthy Moms. These are the moms who actually read those articles about how to add veggies to your dip and sneak spinach into muffins. If I'm making muffins and my kids spot a non-muffin item (fucking spinach) then no one is eating them. Except me. And usually all of them in one sitting.
The focus group was to discuss options for healthy organic snacks and milk. When I tell you that they passed around the ingredient list and balked at "Nine grams of sugar!" I stared to sink. Yah, I check sugar and when it's over like 15 grams or something I put it back. But nine? I was only back on top when I gloated that I only buy almond milk. Apparently so does everyone else. Fine, cashew milk. Hemp! Hemp? Anyone? Yes, of course they did hemp.
Just when you think you're doing something right, it turns out there are moms out there who are doing it way better than you. There are moms that spend a lot of time slicing carrots and celery for after-school car snacks and don't throw Z Bars at the kids like I do.
What I thought would be a life-affirming two hours feeling like a normal mom turned out to be super depressing. I went home and made dinner trying to do something different, inspired by all these Healthy Moms. That's when it hit me. My kids eat two bites of food—a bite of this and a bite of that, a little cucumber, a bite of a chicken nugget and that's about it. If I do give them something that these moms don't approve of (frozen breaded Trader Joe's chicken breast for example) it's so little, I really hope the food won't kill them.
And now, I am going to toss out all my canned food. Because you know, they leech toxins.
You know what, on second thought, I'm not.