I think every mom enters motherhood with a preconceived notion of what kind of parent she wants to be.
Some imagine taking on the corporate world during the day, followed by red wine evenings, and “Mommy and Me” yoga Saturdays.
Others, I am sure, envision themselves teaching their youngster culture, art, and environmental consciousness, while preparing their little hipster for a life of progressive thinking.
During my second pregnancy, I decided that I would be the well-mannered, organic-baby-food-making, perfectly-pressed-apron-wearing mom. My children would come home to an afternoon treat of warm homemade cookies. I would attend Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) and then the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meetings.
I would breastfeed for two years and grow vegetables for my family in my organic weed-free garden. I would take a decrepit, abandoned picket fence, and turn it into something beautiful. This was my vision of motherhood as a newly transplanted Midwesterner. So, surrounded by corn and cows, I took to my new role with gusto.
The idea of being at home with my 10-year-old son and new daughter thrilled me. A new husband, a new town, a new baby, a new start.
Cooking was one of my first undertakings and it was no small project. My cooking skills at the time equated to box mashed potatoes and having every takeout menu in the area easily available. Like all of my undertakings, I tried to “eat the whole elephant.” I spent hours watching food network scribbling down recipes. I would dash to the store only to discover the little local grocer didn’t carry things like kohlrabi or rice paper. Eventually, after many horribly failed attempts to make an elaborate meal, I settled on the basic tacos and spaghetti. Except for one thing, I had it somewhere in my mind that every good homemaker had the perfect pancake recipe.
Turns out I couldn’t evenly brown a pancake if my life depended on it. My son soon caught on to the fact that I turned the dark side of his pancake down. Thus, I switched my focus to waffles. Electric waffle makers make the best gifts for the pancake challenged, just an FYI.
I spent morning after morning and even some dinners trying recipes and techniques. I tried every type of flour from Biscuit to whole wheat. I once whipped the eggs into a frothy heap before adding it to the batter. That technique made some insanely fluffy waffles. I tried eggless recipes; I used applesauce instead of oil and honey instead of sugar. I used baking soda and baking powder, milk and fresh cream. I added different combinations of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
I was the Frankenmom in the kitchen. Madly trying to bring life to the greatest waffle, ever! Each of my attempts resulted in the “Good but…” response from my family. It was always something—not fluffy enough, too spongy, too thick, too thin, too sweet, and on and on. This went on for months. I eventually settled on one recipe and continually tweaked it, still attempting perfection.
About a year into my quest for waffle greatness, and on a whim, I grabbed a box of (enter Brand Name) Complete Pancake mix. It sat in the pantry until I had a “don’t give a damn” morning. It was so easy! A bit of water, a little oil, and presto: a waffle! By this time my family had stopped critiquing my domestic art.
Even when I asked for feedback, I received only smiles and nods. I’m sure they were afraid. I would eventually snap and they would find me, crouched in a corner covered in flour, murmuring names of odd spices.
This particular morning that quietude ended. From around the corner, my now almost 11-year-old exclaimed, “Mom, you did it! This waffle is perfect!”
I like to say I don’t remember much of what happened next. A few flying F bombs and a waffle maker casualty are the only details I’m disclosing. Simply put, momma lost her sh*t.
The Waffle Incident of 2008 ended my crusade for parental perfection, but the lessons learned that year are invaluable.
>> A home-cooked meal simply means from the heart. It matters not if the pancakes come from a box or from scratch, just as long as they are made with love.
>> Gardens will have weeds and much like life will have struggles.
>> I am not cut out to be well-mannered. I prefer being sarcastic and blunt.
>> Life is not a competition and parenting shouldn’t be either.
>> The PTA is awfully political.
>> The decrepit picket fence sitting in the garage for two years will cause numerous spousal arguments.
>> Someone will always have a better waffle recipe.