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There are quite a few things that I do reasonably well. I'm pretty good at diagramming sentences. I make very attractive babies. I know how to take a horse over a jump, and I often help friends spiff up their résumés in advance of a job hunt. But I will likely never be a truly good cook. Why? Because I seriously loathe preparing food. In fact, there is no parenting function that I dislike more than the responsibility of planning, shopping for and preparing meals for others.
I realize that for many people—and maybe you are one of them—cooking for the family is actually great fun. A hobby, even. This is something that simply doesn't compute for me. Cooking for enjoyment sounds no different than, say, doing laundry or scrubbing down the bathroom just because it's fun. If I lived by myself, I would probably subsist on sandwiches, apples and soup at home, and I'd eat out when I wanted a real meal.
As it happens, though, I don't live alone; I live with my husband and children, and while my husband takes on many other household tasks, the responsibility for feeding the fam ended up in my wheelhouse. And wouldn't you know it, these people expect to be fed meals every damn day. So I cannot simply cook or eat only when I feel like it. I have to make sure others in our house get fed nutritious food that they will actually consume on at least a semi-regular schedule.
I rarely hear other mothers say that cooking is the one part of being a parent that they hate the most.
I will say that while I am a begrudging cook, in recent years I have become a slightly more competent one. These days, I am able to prepare simple but healthy and tasty meals, even as I continue to hate every minute I spend in the kitchen. Despite the fact that I would rather be doing pretty much any other household task during the time I spend cooking dinner each day, my husband and kids seem to actually appreciate my meals, basic as they may be—and I have to admit that’s kind of nice. Last night, for example, we broiled chicken breasts with herbs, corn on the cob and baked potatoes. Easy peasy, and everyone was happy. We don’t have any vegetarians in the house, so this meat-and-two (or three) combo is my go-to supper, and everyone seems to like it pretty well. I also now know how to use my rice cooker and my Crock-Pot, and I keep them both busy.
Over the years that I have been a mom—a mom who must keep her kids fed each day—I have noticed that while it's acceptable in polite conversation for parents to talk about how much they hate other required tasks that come with the job—like getting up in the middle of the night with babies and toddlers or continually picking toys from the floor—I rarely hear other mothers say that cooking is the one part of being a parent that they hate the most. But even after all these years of being a mom, it still is for me, just as it was when I was a mothering newbie back in the day.
Do you have a required parenting task that you despise in the same way I hate cooking meals? Maybe it's overseeing homework each night, sitting through soccer practices and games 10 hours each week, or driving the neighborhood carpool every other week. What's your secret, or not-so-secret most-hated parental function? Tell me about it in the comments below.