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I Don’t Cook Dinner

And that is okay (because I’m smart enough and I’m pretty enough and gosh darnit, (some) people like me).

Balance is a big topic for parents. There was a well-attended session at BlogHer about balancing work, especially writing, and children, that I was really excited to attend. I didn’t like it. Like so many discussions about balance, it wasn’t about balance, it was about doing it all. I’m sorry, I don’t do this often, but f*ck that noise. I don’t like doing it all. I don’t want to do it all. And I have to say, I disagree that you can do it all and do it well and not end up in a straight jacket.

Don’t get your back hairs up and your knickers in a knot. I am absolutely not saying that working parents are neglecting their children or parents who don’t work outside the home are boring, bonbon-eating slobs. I am saying that something has to give. If you work full time and have two kids, you might not be on the preschool board. If you’re like me and you’re so sick of being with your four small kids that you will do ANYTHING including attending the epic mop v. swiffer preschool board debate to get the hell out of the house because you never know, you just might meet another mom who drinks wine and will go out with you afterward and that is worth it even if she is a mop person because mops are just nasty.

Maybe if you work from home and have to balance your kids and your writing, you aren’t the mom at preschool with three kids in gorgeous homemade Halloween costumes. Although, that example kind of makes me look like shit because I don’t work outside the home at all and I bought my kids’ costumes. If I did work outside the home the only thing that would change is that I could maybe buy them from Cha.sing Fir.eflies instead of Tar-jey.

People are always exclaiming to me “I don’t know how you do it.” They don’t really mean it. They probably mean something more like, I can not understand for the life of me why you would want to do it. Better you than me, sister. It’s a social nicety, I know. Sort of like, “how many weeks are you” or “do you know if it’s a boy or a girl” or “your two-year-old who is currently biting the ear off of my 10-month-old is SO darn cute, even with that blood dripping out of his vampire-like mouth.” (I’m kidding. I don’t think two-year-olds are cute. Except for yours, your two-year-old seriously is cute.)

The truth is I’m really happy doing it 96% of the time and I think one of the reasons is that I define my “it” pretty narrowly. Some might say that I set my bar for “it” low and yeah, they’re right too. (We only hate them a little.)

For example, my “it” doesn’t include dinner. I don’t like to cook. I don’t like to think of what to make. I don’t like to shop for ingredients for the dinners that I didn’t like thinking of. A typical week of dinners in my house goes like this:

Wednesday: Chicken nuggets and mac & cheese (from the box) with peas mixed into the mac and cheese because my kids shovel the mac & cheese down so fast that they actually consume the peas without noticing them.
Thursday: Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Tomato soup is totally a vegetable. Possibly a fruit. Whatever. It is good for you.
Friday: Take and bake pizza. $8.99 with the coupon, baby.
Saturday: Yogurt and fruit or maybe P&J and veggies with ranch dressing.
Sunday: Real food made by Matt (He works four ten-hour shifts, so he’s off three days a week.)
Monday: Real food made by Matt
Tuesday: Real food made by Matt

This is completely self-serving. I could make real dinners, but in addition to not liking it particularly, I want that time. I let my kids watch TV from 4:30 to 5:30 every single evening and it takes me 5 minutes to unpackage dinner. That’s good math. 55 minutes to myself. Do I shower? Maintain basic hygiene? Fold the laundry? Prepare a fun craft activity for after dinner? Aha. You know me better than that, right? I check my email, draft a blog post, read blogs, read my book club book.

The key is that I don’t feel guilty. I own my “it.” I don’t judge other people’s its either. To each their own it. My it includes a portion of each day present with my kids. My it includes clean clothes for them each morning and a snuggly bedtime routine each night. My it includes significant volunteering at their preschool. My it includes time for me to read, write and go out with my friends. My it includes date nights with my husband. My it does not include cooking. It does not include unpurchased bake goods of any sort. My it does not include homemade crafts/costumes/organic gardens. My it does not include scrapbooking or memory keeping of any variety.

That’s how I do “it.” I know you do “it” too. You probably define your “it” differently than I do, but you do “it” every day. The most important thing for all of us parents to remember is that no one is doing more of “it” than you are. No one is better at “it” than you are. We all just have very different “its.” And in the immortal words of Big Bird, wouldn’t “it” be boring if all of our “its” were the same?

I inspired someone. I know, you wouldn’t think it was possible based on this post, but I did. Jessica of Bernthis, who regularly cracks me up, decided to post every day in November with me. Then, she accused me of having a strong sense of self because of my closed comments. But, don’t worry. Marinka brought me back to earth. She accused me of monopolizing the conversation by selfishly preventing anyone else from talking. Now I’m feeling insecure and mean. Talk to me. What’s your “it”?

E&E Tally: 2077 words (Raise the roof. Only 48K to go.)
Blog posts: 4/30 (So far, so good.)

71 Responses to I Don’t Cook Dinner
  1. thei
    November 5, 2009 | 8:28 am

    anymommy, you are my HERO. i'm pre-children, but a non-cook, despite best efforts. my It is nesting. every corner of my apartment is cosy and carefully colour arranged (not matchy-matchy). and yes, my Other cooks after working eight hours a day. but then, he always has clean clothes and a cosy apartment. and i wash up. all the time.
    guilty? NO. :-)

  2. Tina
    November 5, 2009 | 8:56 am

    Okay anymommy, I offically love you. Thank you for this. I don't have kids yet, but I definitely get what you're saying and I agree. My "It" is actually your "It", hehehe. My boyfriend and I have a mutual agreement that either he cooks or it's takeaway. And can I just say that from what I can tell, you're a rockin' mum. Congrats on blogging everyday… I always love reading your posts.

  3. Beth
    November 5, 2009 | 11:00 am

    I married someone who cooks because it isn't something I like to do after work. There is nothing wrong with cereal for supper. In fact, I think GOOD mothers have fed their families cereal for supper at times.

    As for the comments… I really, really like leaving comments. It is my way of showing appreciation to what you write. When you close the comments, you take away my comment gift to you (it is a stretch to call a comment a gift, but work with me).

  4. satakieli
    November 5, 2009 | 11:46 am

    You're so right. I do cook dinner because it's something I love doing and it gets me "alone time" in the kitchen. I have one very clingy 2 year old, cooking is the only thing I really get to do alone.

    But something does have to give, in my case it's the house cleaning. I do not keep a clean house. It's not disgusting-OMG-someone-call-CPS by any means, but I certainly wouldn't want anyone to come over and see it right now. Kind of embarrassing.

    To be honest, I think as long as it's not the kids getting the short straw (as in, mommy spending 0 time with them because she's too busy doing other things) then it's all good. When they're grown they wont remember how clean the house was or what you cooked for dinner (or indeed how expensive their halloween costume was, we didn't even go out on halloween, what a bad mommy I am!) but they will remember the time you spent with them.

  5. Mom24
    November 5, 2009 | 11:55 am

    My "it's" change. Often, ironically, it is cooking. When circumstances are right that is one of the most fulfilling things I do–how sad is that? Then, whoosh, it becomes more like work and I need a break from cooking, not that I get one.

    Too often, my "it" is the computer, I'm working on that.

    Sometimes my "it" is reading, sometimes sewing.

    Always though, no matter what it is, I'm out of balance. You are completely right that you can't do it/have it all. I've never met anyone who does. It's a myth that we all drive ourselves crazy with.

    I'm going to have to work on losing the guilt. I tend to spend my days in a paralyzing state of perpetual guilt. *sigh*

  6. ~Laura
    November 5, 2009 | 12:07 pm

    I'm not sure what my it is. But, I love that you are willing to call out yours. That you are so secure with your it. I am a pleaser. It's a terrible thing to be. I want that strength to say this is my it. Like it or hate it. It's mine. I've got to give this some thought. Good for you and thanks for sharing it with all of us.

  7. Susie
    November 5, 2009 | 12:33 pm

    Owning your it. Love it!
    My it sometimes is dinner from a box and sometimes is real food. It is rarely cleaning. It is more likely to be an activity outside the toy prison that is my basement than "free play" which I know is good for them but makes me crazy. My it is embracing the fact that I encourage independence and dirt (in their mouths is fine as long as it doesn't get on me).
    I'm stopping now. This is freeing and there is more to say, so I'll make it it's own post later.

  8. Marinka
    November 5, 2009 | 12:35 pm

    You know that I love this post, right? And I love that although you're participating in the NaMoBlowMe, you don't phone it in, but they're actually thought- provoking, beautifully written posts. Only 25 more days to go! No pressure!

    I'm worried that my IT is THOSE. Like, I have many its. Last night my daughter came into my room at some ungodly hour, telling me that she had a nightmare and wanted to tell me about her dream and I was like "tell me in the morning" and she asked me to go sit with her and I was like "I can't" and she said "you can but you don't want to" and I just fell back asleep.
    I felt guilty for about a nanosecond, but I still fell asleep.

  9. kootnygirl
    November 5, 2009 | 12:51 pm

    So glad you opened comments.

    I haven't arrived at your nirvana yet: my "it" is far too much for me, but I can't let go, so I (feel like) I end up doing it all rather poorly.

    Example: I work full-time outside the house, have 2 young girls, MUST make fresh food at least 6 times a week, MUST make hallowe'en costumes and birthday cakes, and have recently started a personal blog.

    My "it" does not presently include volunteerism, and I feel awful about it, just as I feel awful about not doing the rest of the stuff as well as I (think I) should, and being exhausted and frustrated most days.

    Your way is better…(and by the way, I think your "it" is huge and admirable.

  10. Jeanne
    November 5, 2009 | 1:00 pm

    I (stupidly) decided to try NaNoWriMo this month, and I freaking hate it. (More on that in my Friday blog post.) Why didn't I do this "it" instead? I've posted 30 times in 30 days before (okay, 28/28, because I did it in February) and I know I can do that. NaNoWriMo exposes all my worst writing habits AND my total inflexibility in changing my routine one iota.

    Glad your comments are open. I was already missing talking to you.

    So when you read this, in December, that's where I was on November 5….

  11. Jenni
    November 5, 2009 | 1:18 pm

    I only have two kids, but they are both small, so I often have people say to me, "I don't know how you do it," and I think it's funny because most days, I BARELY do it.

    I don't keep up my kids baby books. I'm poor at framing and putting up photos of them. I look at their faces all day; I don't need photos. Whatev.

  12. Liz
    November 5, 2009 | 1:28 pm

    My "it" is that I don't clean. No bathrooms, no toilets, no kitchen floors. Thank god my husband doesn't mind cleaning up the kitchen after I make dinner (because I truly enjoy cooking a few times a week), and thank god we can afford a cleaning service every other week.

  13. Mary Freaking Poppins
    November 5, 2009 | 1:31 pm

    I love this! So true, needs to be stated and restated often.

  14. ComfyMom~Stacey
    November 5, 2009 | 1:36 pm

    I really enjoy cooking most of the time and hate cleaning most of the time. So visitors step into a dusty disorganized house that smells delicious from a coffee cake in the oven or a sparkling clean house with a box of donuts on the counter depending on my mood.
    I enjoy scrapbooking but will never take on a long term volunteer position. I'll help at the carnival taking photos, but I'm not joining the committee to organize it.

  15. Pauline :)
    November 5, 2009 | 1:50 pm

    My IT is that my husband gets the older 2 up for the bus. He makes them breakfast, makes sure they are dressed in the clothes I laid out, and kisses them goodbye.

    Im pretty sure I am the only mother in America that sleeps in.

  16. Pauline :)
    November 5, 2009 | 1:50 pm

    My IT is that my husband gets the older 2 up for the bus. He makes them breakfast, makes sure they are dressed in the clothes I laid out, and kisses them goodbye.

    Im pretty sure I am the only mother in America that sleeps in.

  17. for a different kind of girl
    November 5, 2009 | 2:09 pm

    I don't cook dinner that often, either. Oh, believe me, I can buy it like a freak. My house is so full of food that in the event of a global emergency, everyone should just attempt to make their way to my place. I have enough granola bars to sustain 50 people, easily, for two months. There's really no excuse for us not to eat the stuff we have. Sometimes my husband will cave and make something, but in all honesty, my kids are happiest when dinner is their choice and their choice is often sandwiches or cereal. If they'll eat, I've given up some of that fight.

  18. Becky
    November 5, 2009 | 2:36 pm

    GOOD FOR YOU! I loved this post! I figure if they get fed, homework done and no trips to the ER, it's a good night.

  19. Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog
    November 5, 2009 | 3:04 pm

    Thank the lord, you opened comments. THANK YOU MARINKA. Because I wanted to email you, but that would require, like, FINDING your email address again. Sounds like a lot of work.

    I don't cook either. Not much, anyway. MAybe 2-3 times a week IF I have the food. I just hate the planning/shopping/cooking/serving/cleaning up process. If someone else could do 1 or 2 of those steps, I'd enjoy it more. Also? I HATE the wasted fresh ingredients! Half a pepper in the fridge or a rotten bag of potatoes… Not that that happens ANYMORE, mind you, but it used to and I hated it.

  20. hokgardner
    November 5, 2009 | 3:14 pm

    I don't like to cook, not one bit. If it were solely up to me, we'd live on pasta and steamed veggies. But DH does like to have "real" food once in a while. So I rely on prepared meals from the grocery store and those fix a meal places. They have saved my life.

    ANd thank you for writing this. When people say "I don't know how you do it," my usual response is, "I don't."

  21. Leah and Maya
    November 5, 2009 | 3:18 pm

    I did love this post, altough I do cute since I stay at home its my job thing, but I hate cooking plus I hate eating most of it, I would probably just eat halloween candy and piece of toast. You didn't have comments on your other post but I loved you give your man a truck, that one cracked me up beyond belief, and who does he think is going to take care of his dog while he's at work (puppies are a pain) until its a nice mature dog that can fend for itself. I am an animal person so I can understand, but puppies and babies too much.

  22. Caroline
    November 5, 2009 | 3:24 pm

    Loved it! My "it" is that I don't cook at all, either. My husband does all the cooking. My husband is also on duty on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I get to enjoy my coffee and write, while he takes care of the Bitlet. My it is that I get to work without guilt, at a job that I love, while expecting my husband to *gasp* devote himself just as vigorously to parenting our daughter as I do.

  23. Renée aka Mekhismom
    November 5, 2009 | 3:33 pm

    Oh, I love that you are saying this. My house looks like a tornado, my toddler is pulling on my leg with a snotty nose (eww) and I have to take him with me to get my hair done today. Whew. Love this post because I don't cook either. I used to but stopped. I have to get back in the habit soon.

    Anyhow, I am doing Nablopomo too!

  24. just making my way
    November 5, 2009 | 3:44 pm

    You know I love you, right?

    My "it" is that I'm not a cleaner. I mean, the clothes are clean, teeth are brushed, hands are washed. But there is also a tumbleweed of dog hair passing through my living room right now. There is a huge bin of legos that got dumped last night and not picked up. I spent most of my day off yesterday reading. Yes, eventually "It" gets to a point where we spend a day cleaning. But that is how we roll.

    (I don't cook dinner either. Your menus look a lot like mine!)

  25. Carolyn...Online
    November 5, 2009 | 3:46 pm

    I have no guilt about any of my it's. But I feel a little bit guilty about not feeling guilty. You can only run so far from your Catholic roots…

  26. Jamie
    November 5, 2009 | 4:33 pm

    Thank you for this post. I think we all need to be reminded that we don't HAVE to DO everything. I absolutely believe that you make choices about what you have to do and what can slide and what amount of have to do makes you happy. I make the Man Cub's dinner but my husband usually feeds the adults. And I hired out the cleaning a long time ago – not worth giving up the weekend to fight over who cleans what :)

  27. Magpie
    November 5, 2009 | 5:24 pm

    Your italicized parenthetical cracked me up.

    I would cook dinner, but I'm not home so I don't.

  28. Errin
    November 5, 2009 | 5:28 pm

    Stewart Smalley AND Big Bird…two of my fav people…er characters. there needs to be more people out there like you…the non-judgey type that is :)

  29. TMCPhoto
    November 5, 2009 | 5:29 pm

    May I just say that I am so glad that someone else is willing to admit that doing it all and doing it well is not possible with loss of some sort of sanity.

    I wouldn't want anyone to judge how I do things so I don't judge how others do their things a lot of the time I take notes and adopt things that I know will work for me, (ie bringing a bag of popcorn to the next playdate potluck)

    If someone has the time to cut up a tray of vegetables for a potluck and someone else only has enough time and energy to pick up a box of crackers or a bag of popcorn I applaud both that's the kind of balance I can get behind.

    Also Mac and Cheese with frozen peas is one of the best dinner foods ever. Have you considered brinner? a nice scrambled egg, toast and pre-cooked bacon mmmmm it's lacking in veg but I think a night of tomato soup makes up for that.

  30. Rachel
    November 5, 2009 | 5:33 pm

    I cook dinner. but only because when I'm sauteing over a hot stove my husband fears for the lives of the children and plays with them for 30 minutes.
    I don't clean though, unless I know someone is coming over.
    I also read my book and check my email and don't fold laundry until I begin to fear that the pile on the couch will topple and trap one of the children and I'll have to get a replacement child.

  31. mosey along
    November 5, 2009 | 5:41 pm

    A few years ago I edited a short documentary with some friends for a festival. We basically did it "woman on the street" style and the question we asked was "What do Women Want?". I always remember one woman's response because she had trouble articulating it, but it was the perfect answer. To paraphrase, "women want it all but they can't have it all at the same time. You can have it all, but not at the same time."

    As much as we think we can be superhero mommy's, that balance we all are striving for sometimes means we have to focus on one or two areas at any one time in our life, and NOT on trying to do it all.

    (here's the film if you're interested:
    48 HERS)

  32. Alexicographer
    November 5, 2009 | 5:53 pm

    You had me at "What's your it?" Oh, wait, that came at the end of the post. How about at the part where you pointed out that my 2 year old seriously IS cute? Because he IS (no, really), and thank goodness for that.

    My "it" includes one kid, two large rambunctious hairy dogs, a husband who likes to complain about said dogs and the resulting hair (Want to swap your dog-loving spouse for mine? It could work well. Especially now that I've learned that Matt cooks), a me who doesn't really much care about that complaining except just enough to leave the Roomba running when I leave for work, a flexible work schedule (thank god), an hour round-trip commute (not so much), 4-days-a-week childcare, my mom who provides 50% of that care and is very willing to help out in general, thank god, and who also takes the dogs out and lets them run twice a week (ditto), a horse I ride 3-4 times a week, trying to get in 3 days/week of lap swimming (ha!), 90% of the grocery shopping for our household, 80% of the cooking, 30% of the cleaning (see below), virtually none of the outdoor maintenance, 80% of the laundry, and a husband whose world falls apart if he doesn't get to golf both weekend days and Friday and go to pool league on Monday nights. Oh, and who also has a flexible work schedule and splits that 1 day when we don't have outside childcare, with me.

    My "it" does not include much cleaning (But! I am the one who picks up enough of the toys that the Roomba can run!) and (this is key) I am totally at peace with a messy/dirty house. It doesn't include much socializing. And at my insistence it has come to include the fact that I can show up back at home whenever I want on Thursday nights after work, no arguing. Only very rarely does DS get an actual bath (bad mother!). Oh, and not only is our house messy and dirty, but it's small (The food is bad and the portions are so small!). So there you have it. Still, how on earth do I manage?

  33. Christy
    November 5, 2009 | 5:54 pm

    My "it" involves cooking 4 nights per week, rarely cleaning, and occasionally playing with my children.

  34. M
    November 5, 2009 | 5:58 pm

    My "it" involved an enormous amount of foresight as I finagled my way into a marriage where my husband adores cooking. And will basically do anything I ask. And doesn't mind doing it. He also watches my son if I need to run to Target. We also pay a babysitter so I can get my schoolwork done (getting Masters degree) and *cringe* we have a cleaning service that comes every Monday morning to scour the baseboards for me. It started when my son was born and I haven't been able to give them up. Because of all the help I get I can manage to stay sane when my son refuses to fall asleep or let go of my nipple. I entirely agree, you *cannot* get everything done on your own.

  35. Sprite's Keeper
    November 5, 2009 | 5:58 pm

    I was in that same session at BlogHer and thought the same exact thing. Every woman who stood up and announced how she was able to do everything, I rolled my eyes because THAT is not reality. Something has to give. Make dinner or spend time with Sprite. Easy choice. Every time.

  36. Issas Crazy World
    November 5, 2009 | 6:45 pm

    Okay first, I will tell you the same thing I just told Kirsten. I adore you. If you want to post every day, I will gladly read it. Because I adore you and want you to write more. That is all.

    Now, DUDE I hate cooking. HATE IT. Am so with you. We eat a lot of grilled cheese, french toast and um…we eat out a lot. My husband cooks sometimes. It's just not one of those things I am willing to worry about. Sometimes it's just too much.

    My other one is cleaning. Our house isn't gross, it isn't always messy, but it wouldn't win any clean awards either. I am a surface cleaner. I clean what can be stepped on. Oh and my kitchen is always clean. Besides that? meh.

  37. MommyGeek
    November 5, 2009 | 7:10 pm

    My "it" doesn't usually include dinner, either. Or laundry done on time, unfortunately. But my kids seem happy. So I'm happy.

    That saying – "if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" – well that works, but really? If my kids aren't happy? Then Momma ain't happy. And then no one else is happy. But first the kids. Always the kids.

    You are absolutely, 100%, my heroine.

  38. April
    November 5, 2009 | 7:50 pm

    you inspire me to be a little bit lazy. and i mean that in the very best way ;-)

  39. AmazingGreis
    November 5, 2009 | 8:21 pm

    I LOVE YOU! I'm not a mom, but I have my own "IT" too. "It" consists of working, coming home and spending my nights on line and watching my favorite shows. Cooking for 1 is pointless, so I do a lot of take out and microwaveable meals. I hate cleaning. I may not have the cleanest apartment in the complex, but it only effects me, right? I mean, it's not horrible, but it's definitely not eat off the floor clean.

    Great post, friend!!!

  40. LazyCrazyMama
    November 5, 2009 | 8:27 pm

    Why couldn't I have married someone who likes to cook? ;) I hate it, but feel guilted into doing it. Well, every night I start it anyway, hubby ends up doing a lot of finishing because the second I start cooking is when all hell breaks loose ;)

    Anyway, one wise lady once explained to me why she let her husband do the cooking – she worked outside the home as did her husband, but she tried desperately to do everything a wife and mother "should" do for her family. Turned out she hated cooking, and everything she made turned out horrible. Her mother told her it was because she was cooking with anger. Thus every night she was serving that anger to her family. After that she let her husband cook.

    I left an award for you on my blog – just in case you are struggling for a topic some day this month ;)

  41. Kaycee
    November 5, 2009 | 8:31 pm

    I am SO glad you opened comments on this post because as soon as I was done reading it I had this burning desire to comment about HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS POST. :) I remembered I couldn't, then read the very very end and was happy to see I could!

    I don't know what my "it" is at the moment (aside from the anti-cooking gene we seem to share) but I LOVE the concept of owning "it" without guilt!!! Why is that so hard for us Mommies??

  42. Mama B
    November 5, 2009 | 8:34 pm

    I couldn't have said it better myself! I hate that line "how'd you you do it"…I also don't cook. If my kids didn't have their daddy they would be overweight chicken nuggets!

  43. Annje
    November 5, 2009 | 9:25 pm

    I cook dinner, usually, but never feel guilty if I don't (well maybe a little). I don't do arts and crafts, I crings and shudder when my daughter mentions the word "paint". I feel like I clean up so much every-day kind of stuff, that I don't want any extra mess. No scrapbooking, though I do save stuff so my kids can scrapbook all they want when they are older. Oh, and very few outings. I go crazy at home, but even crazier if I have to get my 2 (iamsolame) kids in the car to go somewhere.

  44. Heather
    November 5, 2009 | 9:57 pm

    So you totally love my tagline, right
    "I do it all. I never said I do it all well."

    I used to try to hard to do it all, it about killed me, okay maybe that is a bit dramatic, but it was stressing. Now I am just enjoying life, my girls, and having a somewhat clean house and rocking my photos.

    I do cook dinner though, feeding two older girls requires it, if not I would go broke on the yogurt and mac n cheese that they would need to sustain themselves.

    Much love girlie, much love.

  45. Roshni Mitra Chintalapati
    November 5, 2009 | 10:52 pm

    you said it!! That's a terrific post! No one can do it..who ever says they can is heading for a nervous breakdown!!

  46. Pollyanna
    November 5, 2009 | 11:27 pm

    I totally love you! Guilt is releasing as I write.

    My best friend is a stay at home mom and I've often said, "I don't know how you do it." But in the next turn, she'll say the same to me (I work outside the home).

  47. Christy
    November 6, 2009 | 12:11 am

    What a great post! I loved IT! My it definitely includes some of your its, but also in the last year I have actually discovered that I LIKE cooking. So I do so for my husband and I. My daughter's dinners are much more like your kids! hehe! And you also inspired me, dear friend. I finally signed up for the naoploboma thing today (I live under a rock – I hadn't heard about it until I read about it on your blog!), a few days late. But I've thought about it every day, and posted every day this week – just started one day late. That counts, right? And go you on your novel – you're making progress – that's awesome!!

  48. Minivan Mom
    November 6, 2009 | 12:38 am

    Love. this. post.

    My "it" includes way too much. I loved the line about doing it all but not well and not without a straight-jacket, because that's me. Only I don't have the straight-jacket. Yet.

    I would like to figure out how to cut back without the self-inflicted flagellation. I don't know what to cut out. I need my "it" to include lower standards. Seriously.

  49. Linda
    November 6, 2009 | 1:18 am

    Like everyone else, I love this post. Look at how many people you helped feel better about themselves! :)

    Many years ago, we had 4 babies born within 4.5 years, and I stayed home for 10 years, then worked second shift while my husband worked first. We did what we had to.
    Which included breakfast/sandwiches/cereal for dinners, ignoring the dust and pet hair until there was enough to make another little animal, and going back to bed as soon as the school bus left.
    My husband cooks well and enjoys it, so I don't feel bad letting him do it!
    The "it" that I do has changed often over the years, and I finally learned to let the guilt go. I'm not going to win any clean house awards, but my family is healthy, funny, self-supporting and we like each other. Win!

  50. PletcherFamily
    November 6, 2009 | 1:53 am

    You and I are totally related.

    I am a "working mommy in a stay at home mommy world" here in my neck of the woods. I am the only one of my friends that works full time, outside of the home. I hate to cook. I hate to clean.

    My "it" is having a housekeeper every other week to keep my sanity. Having a babysitter once a month so that Mat and I can go out. I LIKE working full time. I love reading a book that my eldest and I chose together before bedtime. I hate bath time, but do have "bubble bath night" for the kids once a week because they love it. I love to quilt but can't make costumes to save someone's life.

    I wish we lived closer. :)

  51. Bon
    November 6, 2009 | 2:01 am

    oh. my it. i'm allowed an it?

    i mean, i have an it. or three. but, i get to own it? i HAVE to own it? in public? oh.

    sometimes you, you're life-changing.

  52. Claire
    November 6, 2009 | 5:49 am

    My 'it' is the dishes, I cannot stand the dishes, I do not like how my wrist get itchy from the cold bubbles, I do not like having to scrape and rinse and stack. Doing dishes makes my heart sink, and then I get furious because I get all itchy, and then stuff brakes.

    I can't believe that you think that 96% is setting the bar too low, 96% is an A+, 96% is a high distinction. 96% is Success.

    I am in the early stages of my career in medicine. I have always wondered how I am going to juggle having children with having a career. I recently attended a "how to be a surgeon and successfully raise children" seminar. We had a woman surgeon role model come to tell us how she did it all. She worked up until 39 weeks (operating) and then returned to work 5 days after the child's birth. She has had nannies raise her children. To me this is not success. If I was to do this I would judge myself a failure. But that is her 'it' and she owns it. And now I see that.

    Thank you for your sagely wisdom and reminding me that you can't do it all. I think my 'it' will be my career. I may not be a world renowned doctor and I may take three times as long to get to consultancy level, but I will own that and be happy (and I will set the bar at 88%, which is an A.)

  53. Kirsten
    November 6, 2009 | 6:01 am

    Oh how I love this post. You really hit the nail on the head. Does IT work for your family? Are your kids happy? Great!

    I don't clean my own house and I don't feel guilty about it. I drive my kids to school in my pajamas. I put them to bed at a very early hour for their age.

  54. Kari
    November 6, 2009 | 6:42 am

    I've never really thought about IT this way. GREAT post! A lot of the time, I feel like I have to do all of it, all the time. I'm learning to let go of that – mostly because of circumstances beyond my control, but it feels great.

  55. Elle
    November 6, 2009 | 6:46 am

    we have alot in common, I hate thinking of what to cook, buying the ingredients and cooking it! I don't garden, bake or make homemade costumes either.

    great post

  56. Manic Mommy
    November 6, 2009 | 12:10 pm

    This is me, standing on my kitchen table: "Oh, Captain. My Captain!"

  57. Babe in Babeland
    November 6, 2009 | 3:28 pm


    I have been feeling SO GUILTY, because I hate to cook and I'm not a good cook, but I really should cook for my child who is learning how to eat foods and for my husband who works all day long. But you know what? Maybe that's just not my IT. Yes, I need to feed her well, but it doesn't have to be elaborate.

    I'm not sure what my IT is. I'm feeling a bit lost these days. I hope to figure it all out soon…great post.

  58. mommymae
    November 6, 2009 | 3:44 pm

    well, my it does include handmade halloween costumes, but it doesn't include dinner. i feel the same as you. i don't enjoy any part of the process, excepting eating.

    i do the laundry for all 6 of us, i make sure kids get to school, etc. on time, i make sure naps are taken. there's more, but i have to take one to school now.

  59. Libby
    November 6, 2009 | 4:04 pm

    i just found your blog through a blogging friend and i LOVE YOU already. I am left feeling defeated by my second-born this evening–his high-need energy level contrasted so sharply to his type-A very-type-cast older brother (2.5). To boot, I am 6 months pregnant and planning on not stopping yet. And the end result as I journaled this evening? I have lost all motivation for cooking. We live in India (for the past 4 years and making a habit of it) and after returning from a brief stint in the USA I am discouraged by lack of choices, lack of canned goods, and prepackaged anything. i used to do dinners. I hate them now. I was feeling sooooooooooooooooooooo alone in dinner making then of all things, i read your blog just one minute ago and i am now not alone in the universe. You have a lot of readers, but if you want to drop me a note, i'd seriously love it. Thank you for reminding me that thogh mommying is an alone thing, we don't have to be lonely even though i feel it out here in India.

  60. LazyCrazyMama
    November 6, 2009 | 4:54 pm

    I must say, you inspired a post from me ;)

    I thought about your post last night quite a bit.

  61. Stephanie Meade Gresham
    November 6, 2009 | 5:05 pm

    my it is mowing the yard. mostly because my husband's it is NOT mowing the yard and it secures at least one full our of fresh air. that and i can't hear either of my children crying or whining while the motor runs on the ol' Toro.

    hay-fever would be my demise.

  62. Marc and Kayan
    November 6, 2009 | 10:11 pm

    I don't do dinners either and frankly, lady, your dinners sound pretty darn extravagent compared to my ONE dinner (with varations): tuna sandwich and chicken salad sandwich (and by that I mean canned chicken and mayo–nothing else). but the light at the end of the tunnel is that my 5 year old requested a salad last night WITH tuna salad (yes, canned tuna and mayo only).

    We can't do it all and I *heart* you for keepin' it real.


  63. Mommy Mo
    November 7, 2009 | 2:21 am

    I love this post.

    3 weeks of the month, I think I rock "it", which for me, does include making dinner, but that's because I enjoy cooking. One week of the month, I am a whining, complaining, woe is me bitch and well, what else can I say? I try to protect the kids from that lunatic mommy, but that one week of the month seems to be the only time that I cannot do "it".

  64. Gayle
    November 7, 2009 | 2:27 am

    At one point I had seven kids in the house I had to feed. (I'm down to five). I hate hate hate cooking. Some meals are pretty sketchy, but I can say this: I have some of the healthiest kids I know. (Maybe there is something to be said for malnutrition! :)

    My "it" today goes like this: I edited 2523 basketball photos to burn onto dvd's for the parents of the team. How did I do "it". I gave my son my new Excursion (eek) to go snowboarding with his brother, he dropped his sisters off at Grandma's and my 3-year old is really good at the xBox. Ya, I rock at that non-parenting. :)

    You are so fun. And you have some funny followers. I love reading your comments.

  65. Michelle
    November 7, 2009 | 2:54 am

    I'm almost in the strait jacket. That's why I'm taking off the next three weeks from work. And my boss has already asked me if I'm going anywhere or if I'll be around so he can call me *sigh*

    Something has to give, but I actually LIKE to cook. But I don't do crafts. And with a part time job, PTO president, therapies, church choir, etc., there's a lot that's giving, and it isn't necessarily what I want to give. Good for you for choosing wisely and knowing what works for you.

  66. Jabber Jaws
    November 9, 2009 | 6:47 pm

    My it – I don't really pick up my house. I am a working mom and I work an extra ninety minutes a week so that someone else can clean it twice a week. I don't do it all and if you come on the off days, my house isn't perfect and I stopped making excuses and apologizing. And, I don't act weird that I pay someone to do it – it is what it is. For me, it is a good thing and made me a better mommy.

  67. carey
    November 10, 2009 | 12:43 am

    My "it" – I read, oh god how I love good fiction (not the kind you find at gas stations). I love writing (I hope to finish my short story collection this year). I rarely cook elaborate meals. I have 3-4 things I cook and that's it – everything else is just a smokescreen (lasagna, and other pasta dishes, yam peanut soup, grilled cheese sandwiches with fried egg inside and pesto -don't knock it til you try it!). I don't clean much. Family and friends get a clean washroom and clean sheets when they visit. If they are eaten by dust bunnies, too bad.

  68. Essie the Accidental Mommy
    November 11, 2009 | 8:23 pm

    I have a personal cooking policy. I refuse to spend any more time cooking something than it takes to eat it. In my house, with 2 picky children that can be up to about 20 minutes.
    That's my policy. End of story.

  69. Heather
    November 12, 2009 | 4:08 am

    This is a great post. Thanks.

  70. Lesley Reid Cross
    November 8, 2011 | 3:12 am

    Deep appreciation for this post. I know it’s an old one- but god knows how I would have reacted to it when it was posted (wait, 2009? I was in nursing school and I have no recollection of what my family ate for dinner!). But I’ve realized that cooking is something I only want to do when I want to do it. When I want to cook, I love it. Otherwise, I’m just tired of it. I’m perfectly happy with some fresh bread, a salad and perhaps some fruit. My family, not so much. But is it my job to serve them whatever they want, whenever they want? Nope. Consider their tastes, offer alternatives they can prepare? Absolutely. Otherwise? I’m a better mom when I’m doing what I love. I’d rather read stories, do crafts, write….whatever! Good to know it’s not just me! And thanks for telling what you serve for dinner!

  71. Maricruz
    March 9, 2013 | 4:43 pm

    I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?

    Plz respond as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. cheers

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