There are international symbols for just about everything. There is one for “fragile,” one for “handicapped,” one for “danger ahead” and even one for “loose rocks on cliff face.” (I love that symbol of the guy falling off of a cliff. Even though the person-shaped symbol has no facial features whatsoever, it still manages to convey an attitude of “Oh, @#$!” ) One symbol, however, that I have yet to find in all of my years (well, okay—more like all of my minutes) of searching is the international symbol for motherhood. (Although, thanks to a recent campaign by “Mothering” magazine, we’ve finally gotten an international symbol for “Breastfeeding Mothers Welcome Here.” Why anyone would need a symbol for that, though, is beyond me: breastfeeding is such a completely normal activity that you would think that the symbol for “Breastfeeding Not Welcome Here” would have come first.)

Anyway, the new breastfeeding symbol notwithstanding, my search for the international symbol for motherhood remained fruitless. (No, the little martini glass symbol doesn’t count—that’s the international symbol for a bar.) And then, just last week, at approximately seven o’clock in the evening, I finally found it. THE symbol. The one I’ve been looking for. Are you ready? Okay, here goes. It turns out that the international symbol for motherhood is . . . a pizza crust. Or maybe a partially eaten chicken drumstick. Or perhaps the crust from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Or a few pieces of mac’n’cheese stuck to the side of a bowl, although that one might be a bit difficult to convey in symbols.

The thing is, the actual food scrap itself doesn’t matter so much, as long as it manages to convey something that is both fattening and unsatisfying. That’s because what really matters is what the food scrap represents: sacrifice.

When I was in labor with my second child, to get things to progress my midwife suggested that I drink a cup of castor oil. I did, and it worked, but I never got over the fact that I had just consumed over two-hundred grams of fat without even slightly enjoying it. Little did I know it, but that was just the beginning.

Here’s the main problem: I’m cheap. Way cheap. Super cheap. Much too cheap to actually throw out perfectly good food. (Or even imperfectly good food, for that matter. “Just cut the bad part off” could be my motto.) And so, what happens is, because of my cheapness, I end up finishing my kids’ meals instead of eating my own.

This is okay when it comes to my daughter, Clementine. Her palate has finally advanced to the point that cleaning up after her usually amounts to finishing her hummus, or salad, or maybe, at the worst, her yogurt. The boy, on the other hand, is a whole other story.

Being eight, and, as I believe I mentioned before, being a boy, my son Clyde is pretty much entirely made up of junk food. In fact, you could probably argue that he is nothing but Whopper Jr.s and Cold Stone waffle cones held together by pants and a t-shirt. Which means that his food scraps are likely to be things like hamburgers, pizza, chili, and fries. Not the best bits, mind you—just the leavings. When we go out for pizza, Clyde eats four slices, and I eat four crusts. When we go out for burgers, he gets four double cheeseburgers, and I get the pickles, and maybe a bun.

To make matters worse, being a boy (and eight), the more he eats, the taller he gets. While I only get wider. Sigh. Maybe the international symbol for motherhood should be a great big butt. Falling off of a diet. As with the cliff face one, the @#$! would just be implied.

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