My girls and I love Lucky Charms. In our house it’s a Saturday morning treat – something yummy and fun to munch on in front of the TV so Mommy can sleep in a little. They each have an entirely different approach to how they munch: Emily saves her marshmallows for last, while Julia eats them all first. And both of their methods are different from mine… I eat my marshmallows in bites mixed with the toasted oat pieces. Call me crazy, but it’s occurred to me that the way the girls and I choose to eat our Lucky Charms is a direct reflection on the way we handle life’s difficulties.
Marshmallows First: Gimmie the Good Stuff
Julia just wants the marshmallows. She doesn’t want those tasteless toasted oat pieces – in fact, those things are just getting in her way. She will inhale every single colorful marshmallow shape and immediately ask for more, completely ignoring the fact that she’s still got to get through those oat pieces before her bowl can be refilled. Usually, upon being faced with the reality of having to endure that which she thought she could pretend didn’t exist, she enters some sort of “denial.” I’ll hear it all – “I don’t like those parts!” “I’m only hungry for marshmallows!” “Please don’t make me eat those other things!” Eventually, Julia gives in and eats the oat pieces, although it almost kills her every time. My favorite thing about her approach? Every Saturday morning she begins eating and only has eyes for the marshmallows again. Her optimism is incredible – part of me thinks each time she’s sure that this will be the week she won’t have to eat those toasted oats. But although her weekly shock of reality is exhausting for me, I love her ability to constantly forget the negative and focus on the positive.
Emily has the completely opposite approach. She prefers to eat all of her oat pieces first so that only the sweet marshmallows are left. I recognize this method – it’s exactly what I used to do as a kid too. She realizes that the bad in life is inevitable, and for her it’s better to get through the stuff she doesn’t like first, giving herself more time to savor the good and end on a high note. Emily carries this mentality in just about everything she does. She completes her least favorite homework assignments first and gets the boring chores out of the way before starting the ones she enjoys most. At dinner she’l eat her least favorite thing first to get it over with. She’s aware that life has disappointments, and that there’s not always a way around them. So she chooses to trudge through those disappointments first, which allows her to focus on her goal or “happier ending.” I love her approach so much because that’s the kind of thinking that fosters determination and, in the end, results in success.
Then there’s me. I prefer a more balanced approach, eating my oats and marshmallows together. I don’t like the bland taste of a marshmallow-less cereal, I like a little burst of sweetness with every bite. Too many marshmallows in one mouthful is unrealistic – life is not full of endless good things. Too few marshmallows in one bite is also not reality – life is full of beautiful things and happy moments scattered among the unpleasant. I tend to roll through life the same way I eat my Lucky Charms: I take the good with the bad. For me, enjoying all the good things up front only makes the bad much more difficult to cope with. And focusing only on the negative first makes it hard to find joy when the joy rolls around for its turn. My days are full of high and low moments – some days higher, some days lower. But taking them together helps me stay balanced more easily than if I chose to focus on one over the other.
I don’t think there’s any right way to eat Lucky Charms, and I don’t think there’s any right way to look at life’s ups and downs. I also realize that as we grow our tastes change, our desires change, and the way we look at life changes. Who we are today might not be who we are tomorrow. I love that we can choose to view life’s troubles – and eat our Lucky Charms – any way we want to. 🙂