Crazed In the Kitchen: January 2014   

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Used To Be The Best Mom On Earth. For Real.

I used to be the best mom. I’m not kidding—I was the BEST. I knew how to quiet a crying infant, how to get a toddler to sleep through the night, how to teach a preschooler to behave in a restaurant. As I walked through the mall, the grocery store, or the doctor’s office, I watched the poor, unskilled parents I saw and thought about how lucky I was to be such a great parent. I judged parents who were trying to wrangle tantruming toddlers or unruly school-aged kids. I gave out dirty looks like Oprah hands out new cars to those selfish, lazy parents who couldn’t be bothered to raise their kids right. 

But then, something happened that shook my rock-solid parenting self-confidence to the core. My perfect parenting skills slipped, I started losing control, I….

I had kids.

As I stared at my wailing newborn at 2 am on our first night home from the hospital, I realized with a sinking feeling that I actually knew nothing about raising kids. But, I thought to myself, how could this be true? I had 15 years of babysitting under my belt, and I had read pretty much every baby care book published! I was an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER, for crying out loud, and I watched Supernanny religiously! Those things made me a freaking expert on kids, right? RIGHT???


Unfortunately, there truly is no way to understand parenthood other than by having a kid. And, there really is no way to know for sure what kind of parent you will be until you’re doing it. If you had described Attachment Parenting to me before my first son was born, I would have nodded politely while screaming in my head, “GET A BACKBONE!” Now that I have kids, I’m mostly a believer. Before I had kids, I thought for sure that I would embrace being a working mother. Now, I’m on my third year of child care leave and loving being a stay-at-home mom.

It turns out parenting is just like any other job. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about waiting tables or performing brain surgery: You can Google it, watch videos, read books, but you can’t truly understand it until you do it. Parenting is no different—except that many, many, MANY people who have never done it seem to think they know just how it should be done.

One problem, I think, for most non-parents lies in the whole nature vs. nurture debate. Before I had kids, I put a lot of stock in the nurture side of the argument. Kids will always do as they’re told and as they’re taught, I believed. For example, I really believed that my kids would love vegetables because I would tell them that we were eating a rainbow of different colored foods. How fun! Fast forward a few years and my 4-year-old couldn’t care less about rainbows and only eats veggies that start with the letter C. My 2-year-old, on the other hand, will try pretty much anything. They are human beings that come with personalities of their own, not robots to be programmed. Yes, a child’s upbringing plays a major role in who they are, but a big part of who they are is just…who they are.
How I pictured my hubby...before we had kids

So, to all the non-parents out there, I ask you to give us parents the benefit of the doubt. Please understand that the mother of three ahead of you in line at Target probably did not teach her 3-year-old to chant, “Vagina! Vagina! Beautiful vagina!” at top volume. Yes, she can encourage him to use more appropriate language or she can punish him if he refuses to stop. But the wonderful and awful thing about kids is that only they are truly in control of their voices and bodies. They often make good choices about how to act, but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they choose mayhem. How you react to their behavior says loads more about you as a parent than how they behave.

Mostly, my childless friends, I ask you to remember what I once overheard another parent say: “The only perfect parents are the ones who have not yet had kids. And the only perfect kids are the ones who have not yet been born.”

This post was first published on the awesome blog Daddy Knows Less. You should go check it out.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I'm OK With Not Being A MILF As Long As I Don't Have To Clean Up Pee Anymore

Someone has been peeing on the floor and walls around our toilet.

Yes, I am the mother of two small boys, so I expect a certain amount of, um…spray. That’s fine. I can deal with spray. But what I have been finding lately is NOT SPRAY, unless the new meaning of “spray” is “puddles.”

It’s smelly. It’s gross to look at. And it’s NOT OK.

At first, I tried talking to my boys about the problem. I figured it would be like those conversations you read about in parenting books: They would willingly take responsibility for their actions and together we’d create a fun plan to avoid future problems. Heck, we might even make a sticker chart!

Right. Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: Guys, someone is peeing on the floor and walls around the toilet.

5-year-old: (shrugging exaggeratedly) It’s not me!

3-year-old: (eyes wide with “innocence”) It’s not me!

Me: Well, who is it then???

(Both look pensive)

5-year-old: Guess it must be Daddy!

3-year-old: Yeah, Daddy!!

And off they ran to do whatever it is they do when they’re not peeing on the floor and walls around the toilet.

My husband, of course, was shocked and horrified by this. And I, of course, mostly believed him when he swore that he was not responsible.

But, here’s the thing.


It PROBABLY IS the boys.

But—and I know this to be true—it’s DEFINITELY NOT me.

And so I have decided to abdicate my position of head-cleaner-of-pee-on-the-floor-and-walls-around-the-toilet. And since my husband has until now been the vice-cleaner-of-pee-on-the-floor-and-walls-around-the-toilet, that leaves him in charge.

My husband tried to argue that I really couldn’t with 100% certainty claim that I had never peed on the floor next to or behind the toilet.

“Oh, yeah?” I responded. “I guess you’re right. I guess maybe if I did this….”

And I proceeded to pretend to pee, standing up and facing an imaginary toilet while aiming for the walls and floor.

Now I’m a woman, with regular working lady parts, so you can just imagine the bending, thrusting, and gyrating that this little show involved—even while fully clothed.

My husband cringed, and maybe even heaved a little, and told me that was by far the least sexy thing he has ever seen me do. (I think he has blocked out the unmedicated childbirth that he witnessed just 8 months ago, lucky bastard.) But I was willing to take the hit on my MILF status, because he eventually had to agree that I was not the pee-pee perpetrator.

So…I’m out. Starting tomorrow, my boys are on notice that THEY will be responsible for cleaning the floor and walls around the toilet.

And I’m willing to bet that everyone’s aim will miraculously improve soon after.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Brain Cells--Who Needs 'Em? Monthly Momfessional

They say confession is good for the soul, right? Kind of like “they” say red wine and chocolate are good for the heart? Well “they” sound like very wise people, so let’s get this month’s Momfessional (the first!) underway…


Recently, my husband and I had a “discussion” (you know the kind) about who should watch our family’s only TV that night. Yes, we have a DVR, but we had both been waiting a long time for our favorite shows to restart and we both felt like we couldn’t wait ONE MINUTE MORE to watch them.

Why the marital showdown? Let’s just say that two classic, iconic gems of television artistry were showing at the same time.

It was THIS:

And yes, I confess that I am one of the 8 English-speaking women on Earth who doesn’t watch Downton Abbey.

And yes, I am somewhat embarrassed to confess that I LOVE watching The Bachelor (and The Bachelorette). LOVE. THEM.

I don’t actually have anything against Downton Abbey. In fact, I’m certain that someday when my children are grown and I have one freaking minute to myself more time, I will thoroughly enjoy watching the whole series on Netflix or whatever has taken its place by then. (We’re talking WAY in the future here, unfortunately.) But for now, catching up is just too much of a time commitment.

Plus, Downton Abbey? I’m thinking it’s probably hard to watch, at least by my tired-mom-of-three standards. I’m guessing it takes actual functioning brain cells to follow the complex storylines and to keep track of the many characters. The writing is stellar, I hear, and everyone speaks with a British accent. All of this means I would have to PAY ATTENTION THE WHOLE TIME. That if I happened to do one of those 5-minute-long blinks that I sometimes do in the evening, I might actually miss something.

Yeah. That sounds just way too hard.

But you know what’s easy to watch? The Bachelor.

No one on The Bachelor uses long words or complicated language. No one. Not only is the plotline exactly the same every season, but the stories are pretty much the same each episode, too. Even better, the producers helpfully reduce the number of characters each week, so that by the end of the season you really only have to keep track of 3 or 4 different people.

And the best part? Having a glass (or two, ahem) of wine during The Bachelor doesn’t make it any harder to follow what’s going on. If anything, it eases my anxiety about the fact that I can’t tell most of the “ladies” apart, and makes me more tolerant—sympathetic, even—when they act all crazy and bitchy.

(I have the feeling that drinking wine during Downton Abbey would make me very sleepy and not a little confused. It also might make me start trying to talk with an British accent, which would scare the cat and confuse the kids.)

So, for now, it’s The Bachelor for me. It may be killing my brain cells, but at least I get to stare at this each week:
ALMOST as cute as my husband. Almost.

Totally worth it.