Come play in my world for awhile!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Parenting is a funny thing. Before kids I can remember looking at parents with small children. I am not particularly proud to say that I would often observe them and then have the audacity to think that I could do it better, even though I had no kids of my own. I guess I used to be a bit of a know-it-all. Thankfully I'm not like that anymore. I don't think. But that's not the point. The point is that I had an abundance of preconceived notions about how life would work once I had kids.

Most of my preconceptions have gone up in flames. I worked hard to get my graduate degree while working full time. I never thought that I would stay home and be a full time mom. I always thought I would be one of those super-moms who had the amazing kids, the fabulous career and had a Martha Stewart dinner on the table every night for dinner. At least I got my amazing kids because I struck out everywhere else.

I was scurrying my way up the career ladder, traveling extensively, and mostly loving it when I got pregnant with Rachel. I went back to work for 6 months after she was born, went out on maternity leave with Hannah, and never went back. Good-bye amazing career. I really don't miss you too much. But dinner is a different story. When the twins were born we went through a period where dinner did not happen. I made something bland and kid-friendly and usually fed the kids around 5:00. Pat and I would forage for food after the kids went to bed.

It was during this evening quest for dinner that DOYO (pronounced dough-yo) was born. DOYO, quite simply, is Dinner On Your Own. Basically, it means if you want to eat you'll have to fend for yourself. Eventually the kids got older and progressed from eating food out of a jar. We began to eat as a family and DOYO fell out of our daily lexicon.

Until now. I'm about to bring DOYO back. I'll admit cooking for my family is not my favorite thing even though I actually enjoy cooking. My husband sits down at the dinner table and is always thrilled at what I have made and full of compliments. It's probably a result of the trauma from all those years of DOYO. Regardless, it's fun to cook and try new things when the recipient is appreciative. But no matter what I make someone is offended by something. In their defense they eat what's made and don't really complain much, but you can tell by the way they push the food around their plate forlornly or drown it in barbecue sauce that they aren't into it. I don't really care whether the kids love what's in front of them, but it definitely sucks some of the joy out of the actual cooking process.

The real problem, though, is that I can't manage to actually get dinner on the table. The kids are home by 3:15, and from that point until 7:00-ish I am slammed. I want to hear about their day, I need to know about their problems and struggles and their successes and accomplishments, I have to help with the tricky math problems, I must sit with each of my first graders for 30 minutes as they practice their reading.

So, if I do all those things when does dinner happen? As I see it there are three choices: 1) Cook while doing the aforementioned. This kinda works. But my full attention is really not on the kids, and they realize this. And then sometimes I get a tad grouchy when I am distracted by the kids and something on the cook top goes up in flames. Burned food + surly mom = bad dinner, 2) Cook mid-morning and just heat it through at dinner time. This is probably the right choice, but I am not hungry for dinner mid-morning and, thus, have zero inspiration to do anything about it. I think about this option but rarely act on it, 3) DOYO! I haven't tried it yet with the kids, but I think it could work.

In my head I am trying to package DOYO as an educational opportunity. They'll be learning life skills! I'll be nurturing their independence! They'll be wonderful cooks as adults! Who could say know to an opportunity to provide enrichment and education for their children? I'm just not sure whether 6 year-old twins running loose in the kitchen will solve problems or create new and more scary ones.


Charla said...

OK, Kath... a couple of questions:
1. WHAT are you doing up at 4:17 am?!!!!
2. Do you ever use a slow cooker? (they save my butt on football nights -- of which there are several every week.)
3. Didn't know I was reading your blog, did ya?

Katie said...

Yes! What are you doing writing these things at 4:00 in the morning?!

Anonymous said...

"You're on your own" is what I grew up with. YOYO? It was when Dad worked and I actually enjoyed it, although we were a bit older. Good luck with the twins. I can only imagine FOUR girls in a kitchen at a time. We always had our fall backs...grilled cheese, tomateo soup, breakfast, mac and cheese. Yep, it wasn't the healthest, but it got the job done for the night! :)

Anonymous said...

DOYO, I love it. As a matter of fact, I think my kids would love it, too! I already know what they WOULDN'T be making! :)