Tag Archives: parenting

Being An Adult

Sometimes I forget that I’m older then when I last checked 10 years ago. I seem to eternally hover in my mid 20’s, and often it’s surprising to see my friends celebrate their 30-something birthday and then realize I’m next. It’s not that I don’t want to age, it’s that sometimes I feel that I’ve missed it’s happening. I look in the mirror and I look older. I come home and there are two kids waiting for me. There is evidence that I have been adulting, but the things that I thought would make me an adult while in my youthful 20’s are perpetually out of my reach. I wrote out the list, ad lib, and realized that not only do I seem unable to check off the items, but I can’t seem to make a new list, one that is probably more realistic. Here is what I’ve been banging my head against, in all it’s miserable glory:

Signs of (Unattained) Adulthood That Plague Me On a Daily Basis

  1. I need a big(ger) apartment. No. I need a house. I need a house so that I can have people over and cook dinner for them and tell them it was no trouble at all!, and then it will look like I’m doing okay.
  2. I need matching sheets and sham pillows so that my adulthood is validated, like I’m winning at this adult game. Also, those matching bedside tables. Maybe an accent wall. Definitely a dresser.
  3. I need at least one piece of leather furniture, Miriam Come on!
  4. I need to stop using cinder blocks and wood planks as shelves.
  5. Laminate flooring is for losers.
  6. Towels that are older than 5 years is a sign of life dysfunction.
  7. The filling of my pillows must match. One feathered, one foam? Jesus, when did I become such a failure?
  8. The cupboards are disorganized. Tea and medication on the same shelf? Spices and a cheese grater? Canned food and a cat brush? This is an all time low.
  9. I need to start planning for a successful life right now. Why didn’t I start right now 10 years ago?
  10. Google has the answers. “What should I be when I grow up?” There are a surprising number of hits. “Changing careers”. Too broad. My husband tells me I’m too vague when I Google. “Best careers for Miriam”. I end up taking an aptitude test that has 71 questions of multiple choice and then I have to pay twenty dollars to get the results. Hang your head and go back to scrolling through everybody else’s PPL (projected perfect life).

I try to conjure up my blessings, a quick substitute for a new list of what it actually means to be an adult. I mean, if there’s one thing Western Society is great at reminding me, it’s to Be Grateful asshole – accompanied by photoshopped images of somebody’s zen travels and tanned skin hiding under GAP Body underwear. It’s hard to fail daily at the one piece of advice constantly thrown at me over newsfeeds, petition emails and viral ad compaigns. But I keep trying. So I made a list. I’m good at lists.

A List of Things To Be Grateful For You Ingrate

  1. Keep it Simple: You have a roof over your head. You eat fresh food everyday. You take hot showers, and cold showers, depending on your mood. You have family, you haven’t experienced deep trauma and you aren’t isolated or alone physically or emotionally. Simple. Stupid.
  2. Your son thinks you know everything. Proof: “Mommy, how come you know everything?” (I will shamelessly nourish this delusion for numerous years)
  3. You have 2 beautiful healthy children, and a handsome, hilarious husband. (Screw white picket fences, you tell yourself while staring at real estate listings and comparing the impossible with your bank statement)
  4. Your husband makes you laugh to the point of tears running down your cheeks or legs at your expense, his expense, your kids’ expense, and neutral life observations. He knows you so well it’s scary. Honey, please remember to read the labels when buying things; I always know you’re wrong when you say your 99% sure about something; No matter how amazing your life is, I know you’ll only post about how imperfect it is. Too true honey, too true.
  5. You have wild, beautiful friends all over the country. Some are artists, some are new mothers, most are more successful than you. All of them are unapologetically authentic, which is really your only criteria for friendship, and one of the hardest things to find. All your friends seem to really like you, which gives you tremendous strength while you forge ahead on this adult path.
  6. How many more of these do I need?
  7. You have a job that is in the arts – and as a graduate of one of Canada’s top theatre schools (out of…5?) this is huge. As a trained actor who has made people laugh and cry (remember when I made you cry Jessica?) because of your insane talent on the stage (your words KShaw, not mine – also she never said that but she was thinking it) it is a miracle that you are working in the arts. You’re not the artist, but you’re part of that world. Yes, you are doing more admin work, more IT support, more stamping and mailing, more supply ordering, but still. You get to say you’re working in the  –  Never mind, can I move this up to my first list?
  8. You still need to listen to music loudly, alone, dancing, singing to ground yourself. You still have fun moving your body in different ways to music and are slightly convinced it keeps you young. In spirit. Nothing is stopping the physical decay.
  9. No major health issues – you know how quickly life can turn around when you suffer from light illnesses. Kids continue to need you, money still needs to be made – there is no amount of gratefulness that can sufficiently amount to how grateful you are for this. Should probably be #1 on the list you numbskull.
  10. Despite a visceral aversion to parenting, you do have some excellent mothering qualities. Mostly just being present and honest. Your kids won’t have memories of veggies cut into little shapes in their lunches or super organized birthday parties (See blog post titled ‘Let Me Invite You to (Judge) My Birthday Party!’) but your kids are emotionally intelligent because of your emotional demand, will ask you tough questions and have a sturdy self esteem. Take that adulating!
Ultimately, I have the unnerving feeling that I might be wrestling with these lists forever. Maybe there is no ‘ah ha!’ moment when an adult finally becomes an adult. Maybe adulting is just multiple lists of what you are failing at, and what you have to be grateful for. In my true youth, I wouldn’t have thought to make these lists. My youth was a blissful ignorance of lists. I can’t imagine the other lists waiting for me around the corner…I should stop now, or I’ll start making a list of possible lists that I’ll be making in the next 10 years.
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Winter Parenting.

Facing 10 days in a row of my husband working means fending for myself against the likes of my children. You know you have hit a new phase of life when your kids legitimately scare you and you imagine hiding from them for realsies, because you know what they need from you is likely going to kill you. Parenting in the winter is a different kind of hell than parenting in the summer. It’s something that should offer support groups and safe words for when you are at your wits end. As a general rule, I do not like to be cold, so the winter offers challenges that I am not always up for.

Today my daughter foamed at the mouth when she learned that the canal in our glorious city is open. Skating! Can we go skating? I neeeeeed to go skating! You said we could go skating when the Ottawa River opened! It’s not the Ottawa River. Fine, the Ottawa Canal, you said it, you said we could go! Much like a hostage situation, I had no choice, and I didn’t want to make her mad. She can be unpredictable when she’s mad. I looked at the clock, did some quick nap math, and decided that we had a small window of opportunity to head to the canal and do the traditional winter fuck outdoor skate thing.

You know what the best part is about going skating on the canal with two kids? Nothing. I don’t care who posts fun pictures of themselves with their kids on Facebook, I don’t buy it. It’s hard as fuck and yes, I’m swearing in my blog today. We have to drive closer to the canal because having grown up doing this as a kid, I know that at the end, there will be tears and signs of frostbite, so it’s imperative that we get the fuck out of there when the time comes. But driving means dressing the baby in sweater layers for the car ride and putting on his honking snow suit on the side of the road so he will be warm in the stroller. Driving means finding parking, which means likely having to walk anyway so that’s what car dumb means. You get a car, you get dumb. Now I don’t have skates. I don’t care for skating and I refuse to spend money on skates. The baby can barely move in his huge snowsuit so here we are, bundling and unbundling and peeing and rebundling all so that my daughter can skate while me and the baby walk behind her. Talk about low status. But you put on your stupid parenting hat and you do it.

You know, even when it’s good, it’s bad. Yes, I had a moment when I felt like the world was a tiny bit okay because a stranger offered to help me and the stroller down the stairs. Yes, I had a moment of feeling grateful that the sun was shining and it wasn’t freezing. But I’m not fooled. I know that in about 30 minutes the whining will begin, the toes will ache and that’s not even including my stress that the baby won’t stay docile, but will scream or be too cold, so I snap with my awful mom voice “When I say it’s time to leave, I don’t want to hear one single word of protest. We leave. Do you understand?” Oh mom, you’re so fun.

So my daughter skates. I walk. The baby strolls. My black heart experiences a tiny bit of remorse for being so impatient, when I see my daughter smiling and laughing even though I’m shooting her death glares. The innocence of childhood. She seems to barely notice my foul mood and I think it’s probably a survival instinct. Children must have a way of blocking out their shitty parents’ behaviour in order to enjoy life a bit. We make it to the fence, the barricade that means we have to turn back. I’m about to tip my hat off to myself for not insisting we turn around sooner, but then we change directions, and it becomes clear why the skate/walk there was manageable. Now the wind is slapping us in the face and what seemed like decent weather was actually just shoving us along making the skate/walk seem nice and now we have to walk the 3km against the wind. Any minute now.

One too many drops to the knee, that whole stupid helmet thing means her ears are freezing cold, and the baby has had enough. She wants to stop. Nope. Nope. Not stopping. Now you skate goddamnit. My face is frozen into a permanent scowl and my once strong stride has become slippery and shuffled. It’s now that I notice all the people. Of course I notice them because they’re all skating toward me, with the wind, and they don’t know what’s coming. I see the 12 year old girls in matching coats. Skate clubs. I see the older couple in stride unison. The speed skaters that truly make the rest of us look like fucking idiots. I see the confident woman skating forward while her confident boyfriend skates backwards and I feel sort of aroused. I see the university guys in their hockey gear and sunglasses and I kind of hate them but I also really love them. I see the token Asian tourist, who have skates on, but lets be serious, aren’t skating. I see the functional skaters, the ones with those tiny backpacks on that are definitely filled with bottles of water and solar blankets or something and they are literally skating from one side of the city to the other as transportation. I see the families. I see the singletons. I see the paramedics. I even see the grouchy mom, pushing a stroller and every now and then giving her daughter a thumbs up when she gets back up from a fall, but is really just doing it so she won’t have to head over there and coddle the sore knee because it’s so fucking cold now and we just have to power through.

By the time we get off the canal, lifting the stroller up the stairs on my own because the world is not so okay anymore, my daughter is crying because her ears are so cold and the baby is screaming because it’s nap time. Now we undress him so he’ll fit into the carseat but I don’t take off his snow pants so I drive home with him unbuckled, and I hear the whimpering of my daughter in the back who between breaths asks if she can have a bath when we get home, and I know this is just the way it will be forever. It will always be hard. But we did it. We did it and we get to say we did it. But lets not pretend it isn’t the hardest fucking thing in the world.

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Beer And Boyardee

That’s right. I took off my organic hat today and turned on the stove top to heat up some Chef Boyardee. I am proud to say that I was more excited for my lunch today than I was to nap, nap twice and then go to bed. I believe it to be the first can of Chef Boyardee that my son has enjoyed and I wanted to remember the moment with a beer. Reasonable. It was fantastic, and as I scooped the pasta and ‘beef’ from the pot into the bowls, I was careful to ensure that I took a mental snapshot of the moment in order to remember it for years to come.

As I ate each spoonful I thought of the little corner store that I bought it from, and how wonderful it is to support local businesses. I thought of how smart they are, to carry such products, when they also carry much fresher, more ethnic goodies cooked right in their kitchen – but that they are in a neighbourhood of students, and how many students must grab at these comfort foods canned and ready to go? Smart.

I thought of all the commercials I have seen of mother and baby enjoying their Chef Boyardee and how if there was a camera on me, I would be giving those happy actors a run for their money. Here I am, truly smiling and chit chatting with my curious son who hears trucks reversing and listens to the beeping and then reaches out a hand for another tasty bite. Here I am, listening to some new music, feeling refreshed to have something on other than Raffi and enjoying a sudden burst of sun from the window. I look to my cat and allow him to keep eating the plastic bag on the floor, ‘Go ahead Jimmy, keep eating that bag, lets see what happens‘.

I think of all the things I’ve read or conversations I’ve been part of, of the importance of eating healthy, of eating fresh, of making sure your baby gets the best of everything. I couldn’t agree more. As we spooned the last of the bowls into our hungry bellies, I thought, this is the best. Son, you just consumed enough salt to last you to Monday, and isn’t that amazing? We shared a lunch of ease – of pure and utter ease, and that is the best. That is worth more than anything these days, when I am tired, sick, not very engaged, contemplative and self absorbed about a hopeful future, and for 40 minutes we got to sit and gibberish back and forth and then wait for the sugar crash to hit and it’s off to bed. We are the 1%.

So as you pre-prepare your kid’s lunch; chopping, rinsing, cooking, sautéing, I don’t know – stop and consider the possibility of a Chef Boyardee Lunch. Who knows. You might find yourself enjoying a moment of bliss. I threw in a beer because I’m an adult and while I gave my son organic milk to sip, I thought there’s gotta be line here somewhere, so I’m gonna sip on my organic beer. (Much thanks to Shelagh and Cam).

Off to bed. Sugar crash: check. Unknown

Parks are for Kids

I’ve expressed my discomfort when visiting a park in a previous post. Allow me to elaborate for this one.

I’m not sure when it started – my general distaste for the play structure, the sand (or worse, the bouncy rubber padding) the company of other people’s kids – but I suspect it is rooted in my own childhood. Aren’t all these adult issues some sort of offgassing of past experiences that never got properly aired out? When I flip through my childhood memories, I have many from parks. I have the memorable memory of being spun off the tire swing and getting a mouth full sand. I remember getting my foot skin stuck in the cracks of the draw bridge while running along it bare foot. I remember crashes on the slide, awkward moments of boredom when I realized I didn’t want to play with the only other kid in attendance. I have a vivid and odd memory of being on a teeter-totter and a little girl telling me to get off and when I didn’t she started slapping me in the face. I knew there was something wrong with her, and it was a surreal moment for me as a 6 or 7 year old, but there I was, being slapped by a girl and taking it like a man.

Those are all memories from one specific park, if I am honest. Then I feel like I have no memories of parks at all outside school property. Cut to me as an adult frequenting them regularly again and I feel like I’ve just solved my own issue. Cheque is in the mail, this therapeutic session has been very informative.

As an adult, I experience less skin pinching and rarely get a mouth full of sand, but my intense empathetic nature makes me just as uncomfortable as my children when they come running to me for the same reasons. When I scoop the sand out of my son’s mouth half my brain remembers an article about the importance of letting kids get dirty, play and explore and the other half remembers that I don’t give a fuck. That sand travels from the park onto my floors and I spend days sweeping and feeling the grains under my bare feet that gives me a feeling of anxiety. Hidden wasp nests, falls from the stairs, how many times has my doughtier come limping over to me because there was a hole in the sand that some 3 year old idiot dug as a trap for some make believe monster? It seems barbaric that I bring my kids here and instruct them to ‘play!’.

Then there’s the added mix of the children wanting their parents to play with them. I don’t know when this trend started, but among all my park memories as a child, playing with my mother on the play structure is not one of them. Nor should it be. Last time I checked adults generally don’t fit on the play structures that are made for kids, so why on earth would I play on one? Maybe it started when people stopped having more than one kid and felt sorry for their toddler playing sorrowfully by themselves and then without thinking of the repercussions for the rest of us checked their pride at the door and began doing laps around the park. I mean, bless you if you’re one of them, but also, have you stopped to look at yourself? You’re a grown up ducking and shoving yourself through wooden or plastic doorways, lumbering down slides that you’re too heavy for, and digging in sand like a big baby. It’s not you. It’s the park.

My rule at the park for my lucky daughter is that parks are for kids, and when we attend one, I will be sitting on the bench while she plays. Am I heartless and cold when she begs me to play tag with her? Yes. Do I push her on the swings? Sure, but only as a means for teaching her how to pump herself so that I can go back to sitting. Do I buy her mud pies? Of course, but only because I insist that she bring them to me while I sit. However, these days, you can find me on the playground because of the inconvenience of my darling son who is only 1 and needs my assistance. Soon he will come to understand that mommy’s place is on the sidelines, like a trusted coach, but until then I am stuck following him up and down the stairs and going down the slide with him. I enjoy his sweet smiles as he accomplishes the small but meaningful task of getting up the stairs by himself, but I resent having to engage in conversations with 4 year old that I just met. After a long hard day and a year of fatigue it just feels demeaning.

Gone are the days of owning acreage and letting your kids run off and explore nature on their own. If you live in the city a park is one of the only places we can bring our kids and let them off their leash. It’s an important part of their development and more inappropriate than adults on play structures is the adult that gives their kid too many rules to follow. I may not be digging in the sandbox or climbing up the slide in a race, but I am allowing my kids to play as they like. Save for putting somebody else’s kid in danger, my daughter has free reign at the park and can climb as high or go as fast as likes. It’s remarkable to me that there are times I get dirty looks from other parents who stand there dishevelled, holding miniature shovels and pails because my daughter is sitting on top of the train and their kids want to copy her. I do laugh under my scarf when those parents chide their kids, listing off all the reasons why the top of the train is dangerous, and then they skulk back to their sandbox and build a castle. I may have park issues, but they appear to have playtime issues.

So in the end, as I sit on my bench and watch my kids run around, declining every now and then to my daughter’s pleas to join her, I wonder how their memories will affect them as they grow into adults. They will have memories of playing, and that’s a win. And thankfully, those memories won’t include me playing pirates, but rather sitting and watching them comfortably from the bench.

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Remember your Please and Thank You’s.

From the earliest age we teach our children to say ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’. It’s perhaps the first routine we teach our kids. It’s the first set of manners we teach and use to prove that our kids are well behaved. It’s arbitrary in the beginning stages, and I felt silly and guilty making my daughter say ‘please’ for food that she needed and that I was happy to give her. Sitting across the table in her high chair, pointing at a glass of water and there I was repeating ‘say please!’ and hearing her baby attempt and then rewarding her with a sip of life-sustaining liquid. I felt it was a bit misleading, since I was her mother and didn’t want her to think there was a catch to asking for basic things from me. ‘If you don’t say please, you won’t be fed, clothed, passed an item, read a book, tucked in bed etc’. Not only did I wrestle with the idea that she needed to say a magic word for these necessities but I felt like after spending 18 months knowing consciously that my role was to provide without question, without a thank you, without acknowledgement of my giving – all in a bid to build her sense of security and lay the foundation for a strong and unyielding self-esteem – all of a sudden I was changing the rules of the game and demanding that she perform for all her givens. All in the name of manners.

I didn’t like it when her grandparents withheld something until she said ‘please’. I felt that we over used the word and that we diminished the sense of what family is, a tribe that gives and takes care of each other no matter what. I began to loosen up about the rule and would gasp! pass her the ketchup when she simply asked for it. I would get her a glass of milk when she simply asked. I would do her hair when she simply asked. That’s what family does.

And then something strange began to happen. I got a little busier, a little more tired with my second child, and she got a little older. When she simply asked for something now, it wasn’t as easy for me to do. I would do it, and then I would sit down just a little more tired, a little heavier with the burden of everything else I needed to do. With a new baby it’s his turn to have 18 months of unthanked work, and so my level of giving is at a new high. As my 6 year old simply asks for a glass of milk and I place it down on the table, I feel like she should recognize the effort I put into getting it. She should thank me. But she doesn’t and I go to bed and wonder why it’s sitting on my chest like a weight and think about what family means. I think about how her age is changing things and try to gain clarity about what my role is and how I want to influence her. I toss and turn trying to decide if my daughter has no manners, if she’s rude, if she’s mean, if she has no compassion. It’s hard to sleep with a weight on your chest.

There were many moments like this, many heavy sleeps, and then finally the issue became clear to me. I think. I feel like the more I know the more I don’t know. But perhaps, in the case of please and thank you, it comes down to gratitude, not manners. Okay. So how do we learn that? Is it something we are born with? When I look at my 1 year old I can tell you that it is certainly not. If we are lucky, the first couple of years of our life is void of gratitude. We are cared for and given all the things we need without question if we are born into such a circumstance. So it must be learned. It must be practiced, right? I think. I pick my daughter up from school everyday and I ask how her day was and too often she goes straight to the negative. I steer her into a different direction and tell her Start with 3 good things about today. Her natural state is a little darker, a little more skeptical. That’s how she was born. So we practice looking on the bright side. Maybe we have to practice gratitude with pleases and thank you’s.

How many kids do you see demanding things and tacking on a ‘please’ and then getting what they whined for? There is little substance in that kind of please. So I place the glass of milk on the table and she takes it without a thank you and I know that I have to teach gratitude, not manners. A thank you now would mean that she recognizes that it took time and energy for somebody to do something, and acknowledging that the words ‘thank you’ is a practice in gratitude. I am grateful that you are so busy and yet you still had the generosity to get me a glass of milk, even when I can do it myself. Thank you mom. While I wrestle with my child rearing skills and shake my head that my daughter is 6 and I have to re-teach the habit of pleases and thank you’s, I have a glimmer of hope that I’m on to something new and important – not just for her, but for my second child as well. With each please and thank you, I can teach them the deeper meaning, and avoid the words being an empty, learned manner. I think.

Monica as Ruler

If my 6 year old ruled the world…

Everything would be repeated over and over no matter how clear you were on an issue.

Nothing would be funny, when you tried to be funny.

Selective hearing would slowly corrode our society.

The candy industry would replace the oil industry and dictate who controlled the government.

Money would take on a new meaning. Having 10 dimes would be waaaay cooler than having 1 quarter, and poverty would cease to exist.

Everybody would be spoken to honestly, with no social filter.

Success would be defined by how many playdates you had. The more fun you have, the higher your status.

Every single action of daily life would take twice as long.

Personal space would not exist.

Neither would chairs.

Or Manners.

Singing would be encouraged, but only after a song had been sung over 200 times in as short a time as possible.

ADHD would not be an issue. In fact, if somebody was suffering from too much stillness it would be cause for concern.

Clothing would be optional.

Climbing trees would be used as a means to attract a mate.

If you were different in ANY way, you would be stared at mercilessly. Curiosity would not be taboo.

Katy Perry would likely be God.

The worst criminals would get the worst punishments. Among them, not having an arm wrapped around them as they fell asleep and not being allowed in parks.

Adults would go to bed before children.

Photo Booth would be the main source of entertainment.

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The Breakup.

EI broke up with me today. Just like that, without any explanation, it left. No note, no good-bye. I saw it coming, I can’t lie. I knew our time together was limited, that we would only last for as long as I needed it. Of course, the pain of it going away convinces me that we were soul mates, that I can’t live without it. I want to chase it down and beg it to stay. There is so much I we didn’t do. I spent hours, days, weeks imagining all the things I wanted to accomplish with it, and yet like so many other broken relationships of my past, I never managed to fulfill those imaginings before I was left on my own. Through a hazy fog of panicked tears, I search for signs that it may not be over yet, that there is at least a date in the future that will see each other and collide and engage in crazy make up spending. But nothing. It’s gone. And as much as it hurts to admit, I know it’s not coming back. It’s left me and found some new woman, some new idiot mama to give her all the dependancy she needs for a short while, only to sneak out in the middle of the night when her time is up. What an asshole. What a heartless way to sucker me in – with the sweet promise of security and a carefree lifestyle – only to yank it out from under me and laugh at me as I wonder where I will find the resources to create that feeling again. After months of getting used to this life – of being home and engaging in a way that brings sense into the world; of providing for a family and teaching children to grow up strong and kind; of eating wisely; of nurturing humans both young and middle-aged with attention; of developing cleaning, multi-tasking, cooking, organizing skills; after months of this, I am left to whiplash myself and my family out of this lifestyle and head back into a different existence. One that stretches us this and still doesn’t give us enough to make sense of the sacrifice.

I can hear your sweet laughter, EI. I can hear your whisper, once telling me that it will all be okay, now laughing about my panic and saying ‘I told you this would never work.”

But have a secret, EI. You can taunt me with your paycheque and convince me that without you I am nothing, that I have no purpose. You can go on to the next woman to do to her what you did to me, but now that you are gone, I see your games. But you can’t change what I’ve learned over the last year, and you can’t force me into a lifestyle I’m not ready for. Because of your absence, I am forced into a new way of thinking and it will be hard (my god you made it so easy) but I will learn new ways of security and a carefree lifestyle. I will keep my family in calm and attentiveness. Your disappearing act will mean nothing to me once I am on my feet again, having not sacrificed my morals. I will laugh at our ridiculous relationship and wonder how I fell into such a short sighted, meaningless situation.
Tonight I will listen to some gushy love songs. I will cry over my lost love. But in the morning, I will throw away your first love letter to me and move on.
Goodbye EI.

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Bad Mum! Bad!

I see posts from moms all the time of pictures of them cooking with their kids. I read articles about how cooking with your kids makes them interested in healthy eating, creates a sense of play and bonding between parent and child and I see clips on TV about easy recipes you can cook with your kids for a fun activity.

These pieces of information always leave me feeling less than, and I usually close the tab/magazine/channel. I am not a good cook. Apparently when my husband and I started dating, my eating and cooking habits were enough to make him stop and question the longevity of our relationship. My cooking involved the intricacies of opening a can of soup and toasting some bread. When I was feeling especially fancy I would cook some pasta and drizzle some canned sauce on top. Opening and heating was what I excelled at.

After my daughter was born I became slightly more adept in the kitchen but lets not kid ourselves. Expanding my cooking skills was highly stressful and humiliating. So deeply emotional was my relationship with the act of cooking that when I by accident saw a Life Coach for about 6 months, one of my homework assignments was to prepare a meal and share it with a loved one. It was the only piece of homework I never turned in.

I was given a cook book by Mark Bittman (a wonderful and generous man who deserves to be thanked for the many meals and beginning healing process) that literally went through the basics of everything from boiling an egg to reminding you to use oven mitts when taking a pan out. From this book I learned some more complicated meals and began to enjoy the prepping process and the odd satisfaction of eating a meal I had handled and served. I also resented that all that hard work was just gone and would literally be down the toilet in a matter of hours.

All of this to say, the one thing I knew I sucked at was including my daughter in the cooking process. She would ask and I would snap No! Sometimes I would explain that because I was so uncomfortable in the kitchen, I would not be a good teacher. I think that’s pretty wise and accurate. But every once in a while, I would try to do the “right thing” and we would attack a recipe together.

It never goes well. It’s a lot of elbows and judgments and usually me telling her to just get out of my way because – can we be honest for a second? Adults are better at certain things than kids. And I have some OCD when it comes to cooking and I don’t like messes and I don’t like watching somebody do it wrong. She usually pushes me out of the way to do whatever it is she thinks is needed to make the best cookies ever which involves something like barely stirring the batter.

Today we tackled goat cheese tarts. Balls of goat cheese with basil and roasted red peppers. Easy enough. Messy as hell. I threw the baby into his crib after too much screaming at my feet. I shoved my daughter off the little chair so that I could get to the bowl of partly whisked egg, and I was sweating way too much for a 30 minute appetizer.

All you moms who cook with your kids… bless you. You make it look so easy and poetic. I wish I could do it and give my daughter some memories of laughing with her mom while flour falls around us and we munch on chocolate chips. Instead she’ll have to settle for snippy instructions and heavy breathing for some goat cheese balls.

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