I think about it an hour before it even happens. While I brush my daughter’s teeth, I secretly hold an internal debate between Honeycombs or Lucky Charms for that night’s snack. As I prepare the baby’s bottle, I grudgingly place the gallon of milk back into the refrigerator, knowing that my reunion with the nectar of the cows is still a good 30 minutes away. When my son tries to stall for another 10 minutes and tells me he’s hungry and just needs a quick bowl of cereal before bed, I deny his request under the guise of “If you were so hungry, you should’ve eaten more of your dinner that I so painstakingly prepared.” Then I shuffle them up to bed and return to the kitchen to begin my ritual. I get out my favorite bowl (the blue plastic one, because the spoon clanging against the fiestaware bowl makes too much noise and the kids might hear me and come back downstairs to request their own snack and spoil my moment of serenity) and the correct sized spoon (Not the giant ones that come in the set with the rest of the flatware. What are those supposed to be used for anyway? The milk to cereal ratio is all off with those giant spoons and we should just get rid of them entirely—they serve no purpose!). With the appropriate tools ready, I open up the cupboards, take a step back, and stand and deliberate.
If I’m feeling good about sticking to my diet for the day, I’ll grab the classic yellow box of Cheerios and throw in a few slices of banana on top for good measure. If it was an average day filled with highs and lows, I’ll go with my mainstay: Golden Grahams—sweet enough to tip the scales, but low key enough to make me not hate myself after consumption. If the last 15 hours were rough, I’ll throw caution to the wind and go straight for the hard stuff—Cocoa Pebbles. Not only will the sticky particles of chocolatey goodness get caught right in my cavities; but I’ll also get the bonus of chocolate milk to drink at the end of it all. Take that Monday.
I try to ignore the cravings. Some nights I brush my teeth when the sun goes down and hop into bed with a 9 showing as the first number on my alarm clock, determined to break the cycle. But, when the house is quiet and the lights are low, I can hear the faint whispers of Cap’n Crunch and Tony the Tiger calling me from the cupboards. “Come let us out,” they plead, “We haven’t seen you since this morning and we miss you.” I try to ignore their appeals. I pull the blankets up over my head and scroll faster through my Facebook newsfeed. As I attempt to distract myself by clicking on a HuffPost article, those bad boys of the breakfast world change their tactics and the taunts begin. “C’mon, it’s just one bowl—what’s the harm in one little bowl?” Followed by, “It’s been a long day, you deserve a little snack.” And when I can no longer fight the urge (because they’re right…it HAS been a long day), I rise from bed and give in to my inner cereal demons. I even take my phone with me so that I can scroll while I slurp, feeding two addictions at once.
It could be worse, right? I could be betting all of my kids’ college money on a game of blackjack on some online gambling site after they go to bed or binge watching all six seasons of Downtown Abbey instead of doing the dishes. Besides the extra pound or two my little problem adds to the scales in the morning, it is altogether a harmless obsession—a victimless crime if you will. It is just one of the handful of comforts that I enjoy because of the modicum of peace they restore to my world. My nightly bowl of cereal represents the serenity that is so needed, yet so rare in this phase of my life. It is joined by my first cup of coffee at 5:30 in the morning, my fuzzy socks that I put on immediately after work, and my talk radio podcast that I listen to through headphones as I drift off to sleep every night as the only things that are just for me.
So, I’m aware that the issue exists. Although, on second thought, maybe it’s not so much of an issue after all. Perhaps that bowl of Reese’s Puffs is the only thing saving my sanity after a full day of work and a full night of parenting. Maybe the secret to Life is having enough Chex in the bank and a few Trix up your sleeve so you don’t go all Fruit Loops.