Monday, August 6, 2007

Will Work 4 Food

I am a hopelessly flawed mother. I have moments of greatness
but they are outnumbered by the poor decisions that I make throughout my days.
Take today. I was feeling guilty because, in the 24-hour period that follows
our arrival home from any vacation, I morph into a domestic goddess. It is
short lived but fabulous. I don an apron (not really—that would be my husband’s
fantasy version of this story), crank up the G. Love and clean the hell out of
my kitchen. By the time my work is done, the refrigerator is so shiny that you
can actually see your reflection in the faux stainless steel finish. The smell
of floral-laced cleaning chemicals fills the air. It is a wonderful feeling knowing that, although your children
may suffer briefly from inhaling a little bleach, their chances of contracting
mad cow disease or e-coli are drastically reduced. Sean and I can rest easy
tonight, knowing that our children our germ free. We can address the whole
bleach inhalation thing at a later date. Right now I just want to savor the

When I finally awake from my domestic goddess hypnotic
state, I realize, Oh yeah, I’ve got some kids. Those kids might need me to
acknowledge their existence sometime today.
I’ve got a great idea! Let’s
all cook something together. The kids will love it.
I’m making vegetarian
lasagna. Yum. It’s every kid’s dream dish. I try to get the kids to smash up
the tofu with me. No dice. My son doesn’t want to get his hands dirty and my
daughter is too busy spraying her “cleaner” (a spray bottle filled with water)
on everything. So, I crack an egg open and let my son dump it into the bowl. I
add the spinach, the tofu and spices and tell him to stir. No dice. My hands
were freshly washed when I grabbed the spoon and I got a few water droplets on
the handle. He won’t touch it. What a prima donna. My next step is layering the
lasagna. This, the kids love. They place the noodles gently along the bottom of
the pan and fight over who gets to do what. I try to referee, making them take
turns. I usually enjoy cooking but this is work. Both my kids have to stand on
chairs to reach the counter so I can hardly reach anything and I am crammed
between my daughter’s chair and the stove. The space available for me, the actual
cook, is about one square foot. I pour my first glass of wine of the evening.

I decide that I don’t need to feel guilty. I just spent an
entire week at the beach with these mongrels. I should be able to cook in
peace. I send them into the living room and shut the door (ah, the benefits of
living in an older home—there’s a door between every room). I drink my wine
slowly, crank up Ben Harper and wait for the lasagna to cook. When it comes to
cooking assistance, I’m making up a new house rule: if you’re going to help
make it, you’ve got to eat it. This should cut down drastically the presence of
my little su-chefs.


  1. I totally know where you are coming from on this one . . . Maggie & Aleita both love to help me cook, which I can tolerate for awhile. But for me, cooking and baking are things that relax me. . and most of the time having everyone crammed at the counter, making a complete mess, and taking three times as long to complete something has a way of sucking the joy right out of it. When I talk of having a "mother's little helper" it's refering to the glass of red wine that usually assists me in making dinner.

  2. I can soo relate here. My favorite is when they ask to crack an egg. You plead with them to do something else but they insist on cracking the egg. You hold your breath and for a moment you think maybe this won't be so bad as you watch them tap it gently on the side of the bowl. But then that thought turns into... I knew it! The the egg shatters in their hand and tiny fragments of shell sprinkle into the mixing bowl. :)

  3. It's ALWAYS the egg, isn't it? It's like they have some sixth sense when you are about to crack an egg. They waltz in at that precise moment. Once they pulverize the egg sufficiently, they saunter back out to continue their path of destruction in another area of the house---leaving you picking out the elusive eggshells from the mixing bowl one by one.

  4. Holy Toledo there were allot of mistakes in this entry. Sorry people. I'm getting careless with my pronouns. I think I corrected them all.

  5. I long for the day I don't have to make 3 different meals for everyone...The real meal for us, the 1/2 mixed not too mixed meal with the components of our meal for Preschooler, and the what he might actually eat for Toddler. PS/if anyone enters my kitchen while I'm cooking they are taking their life in their own hands or at least a salad spinner.

  6. I do so enjoy your out-take on cookin' glad ya'll survived the beach, and, sounds like things are right back to normal.

  7. This is the reason that fast food places make so much money from all of us, no mess and the kids just get to help open the bags...

  8. Some things never change. My son is now a teen and still refuses to get his hands dirty. You could put your little angels on lookout duty should you ever decide to allow them in your kitchen again. Their job would be to carry a (clean-up) bag, keep their eyes on the floor and pick up anything that falls off the counter. That way you may end up with a clean floor once finished. (Key word is "may").

  9. Christian loves helping me make banana bread. Not so much the smushing of the banana's but measuring the sugar and the flour.

  10. Yes, Aunt Becky, Mother's Little Helper is an imperative part of the cooking process for me when the kids are involved.

  11. Maribeth-
    Egg cracking should be illegal for anyone under the age of 12.

  12. Jackie-
    No comment. I just wanted to call you "Jackie"

  13. Janine-
    I'm working on the whole multiple meal thing right now. Last night my son held his ground for three hours refusing to take a bite of the chicken I had made. It was brutal. Wish me luck!

  14. Yep, Papa Dale, we're back to normal, our own dysfunctional version of normal, but normal none-the-less.

  15. Great idea Keli. I'm going to try that today. Thanks for the tip.

  16. Leanne-
    You are right. Would I rather spend $15 for a meal with zero clean-up or spend $10 to cook a meal with lots of clean-up? It's not an easy answer. If the scales weren't so tipped in favor of unhealthy choices, I'd be choosing fast food a lot more often.