Growing up with a single
mom, who wasn’t necessarily that into the culinary arts, meant that tonight’s
meatloaf dinner turned into spaghetti and “meatballs” the next night. A vegetable was always on the agenda though,
as she fought to get me to eat all my food groups. Dinner time wasn’t that
elaborate, but honestly, I could care less. My mom worked her butt off as a single
parent with no support from my father. She did the best she could with the
resources and know-how she possessed.
Though, as I grew and
matured, so did my palate and I experimented more in the kitchen. Then came graduate
school, a teaching career, marriage and a baby carriage. And all of those desires to succeed in the
kitchen were forgotten as I struggled to stay afloat and meandered my way
through my newfound working mom status.
Once I got my bearings,
I found myself making homemade baby food, meal planning and scouring
Pinterest to continue to stretch my horizons in the kitchen. I made myself
crazy along the way, but I was determined to do better by my
family. The big question, though, was
why? Why did I care so much about my role in feeding my family?
About a year and a half
results revealed a substantial decline of people cooking at home from the
mid-1965 to 2008. The outcome of this report also notated that as men cooking
at home increased, the role of women in the kitchen decreased. The inference to be made from this latter
point is that since the mid-'60s, more women are entering the work force, resulting in an increase of working moms.
Hahaha! That’s funny,
right? I can’t help but laugh at myself five years after becoming a working
mom. Because that dream of doing it all, having it all, attaining that balance
as a working parent while creating delicious, beautiful, well-balanced meals
for my family on a daily basis just isn’t possible. And really, I don’t even
think my SAHM counterparts would argue against that either.
It all boils down to parents trying to do the best they can with the time and resources they have.
Just as the crazy in my
busy life ebbs and flows, so do my culinary talents.
Do I meal plan?
Absolutely. But do I also throw my hands in the air on Wednesday because I had
a hard day at work and I, once again, forgot to defrost some meat for dinner
that night, and decide take-out Friday is now take-out Wednesday? Yep. Oh, and
we’ll also be eating out on Friday too.
Do I search for new
recipes to try out to get variety on the kitchen table? You betcha. But do we also repeat the same recipes week
after week after week after week because it’s simple and easy, and I know
everyone, including my picky 5-year-old will eat it? Of course.
Do I strive to have healthy and nutritious on the agenda for family meals? Certainly. But do I also feed my children frozen chicken
nuggets without batting an eye? Totally. Because if my child will eat them, and
only them, for many days in a row, I’ll give those chunks of breaded chicken to
her, because she
needs to eat, damn it!
And honestly, do I
celebrate on the nights when my husband tells me to sit on the couch and hang
out with the girls while he cooks dinner? Who wouldn’t? He’s a pretty darn good
cook and love that we share this responsibility to give each other respite at
the end of our long work days.
Here’s the thing, as a
working parent, I’m just trying to do best by my family, and really best for
myself. I no longer count my successes
by how I do in the kitchen, and I’m better for it. I’m less stressed because of
it. But the bigger question is why do so many others care enough to create a
study to figure out how many women are in the kitchen cooking all day?
that this concept is still on the radar today, the
concern about the working parent in the kitchen, continues to perpetuate
the problems of the working parent guilt and feelings of inadequacy. It all
boils down to parents trying to do the best they can with the time and
resources they have. And in the 21st
century, the role of the working mom continues to change.
So let’s stop
worrying about who is cooking what and
for whom, and let us rather focus on providing safe, happy and healthy
environments for our children to live in—chicken nuggets and all.