Category Archives: #mommyfail

A splash, a dash and an anxiety attack

One of my deepest #shames, #lifefails, is my paralyzing inability to cook for my family.

Yikes. There. I said it.

I instinctively equate this issue with having a real disinterest in nurturing my family, for which I suspect judgement is in right order. Oh, I can emotionally feed my children home cooked guidance that has marinated in years of experience, observation and are tender, delicious and nourish the soul – but put me in front of an oven and I argue the kids don’t really need to eat. Do they? On top of the mommy shame rests a heavy weight that socially, I place a lot of value on the women who can cook. It’s a symbol of  having had the time and space to practice; it’s success, generosity and maternal instinct all rolled into one tasty dish and I worry that my life has manifested by way of sucking at it.

In an effort to make me more comfortable in the kitchen, my husband has purchased as many self-cooking appliances as possible. Rice cookers, slow cookers, blenders, bullets, and most recently the Instant Pot. However, due to my aversion to manuals, these appliances tend to cause me anxiety and I have managed to reverse cook rice, burn steak and slow cook chicken to death in these machines. I know one setting on the Instant Pot, and everything shall be cooked using that setting, whether it’s meat, vegetables or yogurt. The embarrassment is deep when something simple goes wrong, and I often feel like I am making things worse just by showing up. I have served my children uncooked batter, salty pie crust that nearly hospitalized us for dehydration, and really. bad. bread. And so I cook wearing heavy armour, protecting me from when the kids get that look on their face. I don’t want to experience The Deep Hurt. I’m too old to be set back a few childhood issues.

Believe it or not, I’ve made a lot of progress in that last 10 years. Ask my husband. The fact that he fell in love with me while I was eating a balanced diet of canned soup and alphaghetti and tolerates my incredible disappearing acts when it’s time to cook supper, is a miracle. I love when he talks about that early time – about how much he loved the decor of my apartment, how beautiful and alluring I was. How one day he opened my cupboards and blinked into the darkness, having his first second thought about our relationship.  He still laughs about how simple and salty my diet was, and I remember feeling like I had stepped through the wardrobe into Narnia when I walked into his apartment and it was filled with spices, rice and cooking pots that only my grandparents had.

However, I have recently discovered a chink in my own armour, and there may be a way into the world of cooking for my battered and bruised self-esteem. I have stumbled upon these magnificent pieces of writing called recipes, within which structure and safety is offered. Yes, I’ve screwed up some meals even though I followed a recipe, but because I’m following direction, when there is a screw up it’s the recipe’s fault. It didn’t say to cook the dough. Inside the world of these recipes, I am able to pretend I am a cook, and I have moments of relaxing just prior to the brocoli burning, or right before I taste the sauce. I’m not yet ready to interpret and improvise, but I can already imagine a time when I will be. And these moments, built carefully on top of each other, will one day result in a tower of confidence in the kitchen. Maybe. Hopefully.

One recipe at a time.

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The #mommyfail High Striker

Just a few Christmas moments. Because all those pictures of smiling kids,  stockings, and all the stories of gaily coming together were really starting to depress me.

A few days before Christmas I caught my daughter eating chocolates I had hidden away for her. She was all gangly on the counter, trying to hold her balance, and had a chocolate smear on her chin. She looked like a wreck. I was upset that she looked like an animal, unable to control her impulse for yet more chocolate and that she had found something that I had looked forward to giving her. I lost all composure and ordered her off the counter, scaring her into the other room. I gave in to the urge to just spray anger all over the place, and yanked the chocolates off the shelf and brought her back into the kitchen so she could watch me throw them all out. I asked her if she was happy now, and then I threw out some more things, I don’t know what, I just do that when I’m really mad. I told her “I fucking hate Christmas” and slammed some cupboards closed, opening some so that I could slam them again. I could feel my #mommyfail High Stiker puck rising, and I dared it to reach the top, so I launched into a speech about consumerism, capitalism, war, gratefulness and religion, and heard the DING DING DING of the bell, proving I was indeed the strongest of shitty mothers.

***

Our tree was supposed to be a Charlie Brown replica, one from the country and small. Instead, we picked a tree that looked tiny under a giant maple, but turned out to be far too huge for our small apartment. Lesson: “We’re not supposed to be living in an apartment, get me the fuck out of here” – Jason. Of course, before we had the tree up in our apartment, we had to drive with it strapped to the roof of our car. The mechanism used to keep it secure were two pulley straps and it wasn’t long before we reached the speed of 60 km/hr and found that the low humming sound of the wind through the door frame was picked up a notch. All of us had crossed eyes at the sheer volume of the noise. Our options were to either give ourselves migraines, or drive at just under 60 km/hr and mostly we opted for the latter. This meant being the asshole at the front of a long line of traffic on a two lane highway and getting death glares when we finally moved over to the right as we approached a passing section. Once the tree was in the city, and dragged into the apartment building (cleanup ensued; broom and dustpan down the hall, in the elevator, entry hall) we discovered that our Douglas Fir was prickly, sharp and gave us hives. Swearing and with shielded squinting eyes we raised it up and stood back scratching our arms as we took in it’s size. Out comes the saw, and there in our living, we saw off a good 4 feet of trunk, prune away the bottom branches and set it back up. More hives. We begin the decoration process and in a desperate attempt to show I have some Christmas spirit, I turn on youtube and play a Christmas carol playlist. Mariah Carey, Wham!, and others grate on my nerves and then…. ‘WATCH OUT!’ The tree slowly begins to fall toward our toddler, and without having understood my exclaim, he somehow managed to walk out from under the falling tree unscathed. I almost threw the computer across the room in rage. Back go on the oven mitts, and we reposition the tree. 4 strands of lights. 1 doesn’t work. We don’t realize that until they are all on the tree. We remove the broken set and do it again. For what seems like a small tree, it seems to consume all of our decorations and lights. Later, as I tend to my itchy arms, I sit and wonder how all our decorations manage to kind of disappear on the sparse branches. Most of the needles have been whipped off from the trip into the city, the dragging through the hallways, the sawing of the trunk, the falling down, and yet, somehow, I can’t really see any of our ornaments. “Next year I’m making a Christmas tree again, I don’t care what you say. Anything would be better than this,” I say, arms crossed and bottom lip pouted.

***

My daughter received a few books for her birthday and for Christmas, and I decided that whatever my level of laziness, I was going to read a whole book with her. No arguments. We picked A Wrinkle in Time, because it’s obviously the best, and began together one late morning. She really enjoyed the first chapter, and I felt good about this new project. In the middle of the second chapter a day later, she got fidgety and started to slither down the couch as I was reading. “Sit up and stop moving around” I barked. She sat down next to me. The chapters are long in this book and I convinced myself to stop in the middle of the chapter in order to keep her interest. I resented the way she breathed a sigh of relief and turned on the TV. At bedtime I convinced her to finish the chapter with me, and I was delighted when she asked that I go on the next. It wasn’t until I was kissing her goodnight and she eagerly asked me what time it was, “9:00”, and saw her face light up, that I realized it was staying up late that was exciting her, not the book. “You know it’s really important to read stories, and to have this time together!” I bellowed, remembering the ease at which I would rest my head on my dad’s chest and listen to him read stories to me and my sisters. I went to bed and told myself to stop making so many loud statements about enjoying herself, because obviously it wasn’t helping. The next day, we sat down to read and she was asking lots of questions, “good good!” I’m thinking, “she’s paying attention!” and then she starts asking questions about things that happened a page ago, things that she had obviously not been paying attention to. My patience started to stretch and I caught the eye of my husband who motioned for me to relax. Okay, I’ll answer her questions. “Well we just learned that Mrs Whatsit and Mrs Who are in the haunted house, so….” She thinks for a moment. “Okay, but who is Mrs Whatsit again?” I grabbed the lever, raised it up, smashed it down on the target pad and waited for the bell. “You’re not paying attention! I’m trying to give you a memorable childhood experience and you’re throwing it away by not being interested! So nevermind! I’ll read the book myself and if you want to read it when you’re older, fine!” Ding ding ding ding ding.

***

My son woke up at 5:30am and was insistent that we leave his room and go into the living room. I objected because other people were sleeping. We should have been sleeping. He hit me in the face. So I hit him in the shoulder. Ding ding ding ding.

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