On an ordinary Tuesday afternoon, I sat at the table working on a writing assignment. When I remembered, it’s Big Salad night.
So I tossed eggs in water to boil, threw chicken on the stove, and arranged bacon on a frying pan. Our piano teacher knocked on the door. We talked, I checked in with food, and went back to writing.
The phone rang, and I talked to my Dad, who’s returning my call from earlier. I tended to food and sat down again. A kid ran in to tell me his online math lesson score. I cheered him on, and sent him off to read.
The doorbell rang, so I checked the food on my way. I chatted with a neighbor, ran back to flip bacon, and sat again to write.
Another kid happened by. Showed me the art she’s been creating. I marvelled at leaves painted different colors and pressed onto her canvas, turned over chicken breasts, cheered her on, and sent her off to read.
It’s supposed to be quiet time, which is why I’m working on a writing assignment and also why I’m cooking dinner to avoid the assignment.
I checked boiled eggs, popped outside for a minute, answered the kids’ most pressing questions, and then our little man woke from his nap. I rubbed his back, fed him a snack, called the next kid for piano lesson, remembered I still needed to clean salad greens, washed and ripped while pondering my writing assignment, and then.
Another kid walked into the kitchen, making a beeline to the stove.
Um, Mom? You know you’re cooking bacon, right?
It took a minute, but I returned to my real place in this real story. I’m cooking bacon. I just forgot. Because the greens, the eggs, the chicken, the kids, the neighbor, the music, the teacher, the back rub, the assignment, and all the thoughts pushed their way forward.
I know everyone does this sometimes. I also know I’ve burned bacon without 16 other things going on. But this story isn’t about the bacon. It’s about being a Mom.
When I became a Mom, I had all these ideas about how to be a good Mom, none of which made space for my weaknesses. Most of them were not really sustainable, at least not for me.
What I’ve learned is, There are a lot of ways to be a good Mom.
Most of those involve the kitchen, but I used to think my kitchen life had to look a certain way. I wanted to be one of those Moms with the picture-perfect meals, all shiny and healthy and planned out for weeks in advance. And while I love serving my family healthy food that will love them back, try though I did, the kitchen never became more than a great place for me to daydream.
So instead of a Mom whose life looks like a Pottery Barn catalog, I’m often the one with the burnt things on pretty plates. And it’s all going to be okay. Because today I heard this little slice of encouragement:
And I quote, “You know Mom? It looks nasty, but it’s actually not that bad.”
I’m still laughing. I might need to frame that quote–it’s so Tuesday-typical around here. Years ago, I might have cried because another kitchen-failure. But I’ve grown into a Mom who knows it doesn’t mean anything important about who she is.
So the next time you’re dealing with burnt bacon–or a flopped school snack or forgotten assignment or a botched recipe or any number of things that might tempt you to believe you stink in all things Mommyhood, remember this: ME, TOO.
And it’s probably not that bad. Even if it looks nasty.