Recipe or Disaster?


It may surprise some of you to learn that I am not the picture perfect housewife. Or, for those of you that know me, this is no surprise at all and you’re laughing your ass off at the mere thought of me putting forth an ounce of effort in this area of my life. I would like to say that motherhood has helped me grow into a fully functioning adult and I have made it a goal of mine to improve upon my wifely duties, but really it’s pure desperation. Between working full time and helping raise our daughter my husband is no longer free to make me dinner every night, wash my dishes, and fold my laundry. One more thing to add to the list of luxuries I’ve had to give up for my child.

So, I took it upon myself to find some easy dinner recipes, spend a little time meal planning, and try to keep the house a little more orderly during the week. Of course I had to scratch that last one because three goals seemed like too much and I didn’t want to get too overwhelmed.

Now, to clarify, when I say “easy” dinner recipes, I truly mean “easy.” I’m talking novice. Imagine a dish you would feel comfortable letting your eight year old prepare for you and you will start to grasp my culinary abilities. Not to mention, my laziness. I was also looking for some recipes that required less work than the three or four steps found on the back of a Mac and Cheese carton because that’s just too much.

I made a trip to the library and returned home with a book that had a promising picture on the cover showing a gorgeous fake mother and her beautiful fake daughter enjoying a supposedly seamless meal together. The book included a plethora of recipes for busy moms who didn’t have time to cook but still wanted to provide a healthy weeknight meal for the whole family.

A quick glance through the table of contents showed some encouraging chapter titles. There was one section titled “Recipes for Partners Who Can’t Cook.” Aside from the fact that I was the clueless partner who can’t cook in this scenario, I liked the sound of that. There was even a section titled “One-handed, Nap-friendly Meals for the Busy Parent.” Now that’s what I was looking for. Cooking for the disabled. It sounded right up my alley.

During one of Emma’s naps I dove right in, pen-in-hand, ready to write out my shopping list and meal plan. It wasn’t long before I realized I had been trapped. I started with the “Recipes for Partners Who Can’t Cook” chapter and immediately had a panic attack.

The first recipe was titled Gazpacho with Honeydew and Peppadew. First off, I only recognized three words in that title and one of them was “and.” In fact, while typing out that sentence even my spell check underlined the word Peppadew as if to say WTF? Google tells me a Peppadew is the trademarked brand name of sweet piquanté peppers (a cultivar of Capsicum baccatum) grown in the Limpopo province of South Africa. Oh yeah, that should be easy to find. Trying to brush it off as a fluke I flipped the page to the next recipe. Surely that last one was out of place. Partners who can’t cook have an even harder time cooking when they don’t even know what food they’re supposed to be cooking. The next recipe was called Herbed Panzanella. Okay, screw this.

I was still holding out hope for the one-handed, nap-friendly meals so I shuffled through the pages to the start of the next chapter. The nap-friendly meals seemed to be three or four pages in length, each with three separate steps. It was like reading a stereo manual. Apparently, the author thought it would be a good idea for the stay-at-home mom to be able to make dinner in three steps that could correlate to the three scheduled naps of the day. Chop veggies during the morning nap, mix the meat marinade during nap number two, prepare the salad during the late afternoon nap, etc. The system was efficient, orderly, and the exact opposite of everything I was trying to do. I couldn’t imagine trying to sell the idea to any busy mom. “You know how you hate having to cook a meal at the end of the day? Well, what if you spent all day cooking instead? See how much better that would be?”

Needless to say I didn’t find any magical recipes that fit the trifecta – healthy, quick, and easy. When my husband came home and asked if I found any killer meals in the book that amazon labeled “A must read for every new parent” I replied, “Yes!  It’s called Thai food take-out.”

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Tantrums Are Normal and Expected

Nobody told me there would be no more popcorn. I’ve seen the parenting blogs, read the BuzzFeed articles, and heard the secondhand tales from the mothers of past. Everyone seems to have a “nobody tells you” line about motherhood. But nobody said anything about the fucking popcorn.

At our last pediatrician visit I was given a handout of upcoming milestones for my one-year-old daughter. The paper listed some of the common developments to look out for including walking, speaking a few words, pointing, etc. Underneath all of these exciting things to look forward to was a phrase that I have been whispering under my breath over the past few weeks and sometimes out loud to my husband in moments of unadulterated frustration, “Tantrums are normal and expected.”

As a first-time mother, now comes the part where I rant about said tantrums as if no other parent before me has had to deal with the sheer obnoxiousness of a one-year-old losing her shit over a block, or a box of cereal, or the sky. It’s times like these that I reminisce about the helpless little infant she once was when there was nothing a boob in the mouth couldn’t fix. I have since given up the whole breastfeeding thing and am missing a very large weapon from my arsenal. And that’s not all I’m missing up there. Let’s just say I have discovered a whole new meaning of the term “deflategate.”

If there’s one thing that’s always been there for me throughout my entire existence its popcorn. Popcorn is my happy place. It was there during my awkward teenage years, which were largely spent trying to hide the fact that I played the trumpet in honors band. It was there in college when I had to make the daily decision between dinner or rent. It was even there on the first date I ever went on with my husband. After the movie he asked me, “Where would you like to go for dinner? What’s your favorite food?” After answering his question with the very same cuisine we just finished consuming in the theater he then asked me for my second favorite food and we immediately went out to ice cream.

So you can imagine my despair at discovering I can no longer enjoy the sweet, sweet nirvana that is popcorn. You see babies can’t have popcorn. Either it’s the fact that it is a terrible choking hazard or doctors are worried that once these babies start they’ll never stop. I can relate. The problem is that these one-year-olds of the world that are in that cute stage of discovering their surroundings will murder anything in their path if it means getting to touch, lick, swallow, sniff, or throw whatever Mommy has in her hands. And if the touching, licking, swallowing, sniffing, or throwing of said object is not allowed to happen, a meltdown ensues. It’s no lie that on more than one occasion I’ve found myself stuck in the pantry with the door closed, hands rifling through the last of the kettle corn, while listening at the door for footsteps like a frightened extra in a horror film.

Perhaps I should look at the problem a little more objectively. If limiting my popcorn consumption to twice a day during naps and anytime after Emma’s 7 PM bedtime is this difficult, it may be time to admit I have a problem. Like most addicts, I thought I could quit at anytime. I suppose rehab was inevitable.   I guess I just wasn’t ready because nobody ever told me…