Betty Says: Playing the Role of Mommy

A recent grocery receipt suggests that I bought a shredded Mexican and a spinach baby. Make a meal with that.

Sometimes, you just need a change of perspective.

Dear Betty,

I feel like my kids (and possibly even my husband) don’t appreciate what I do. Nobody notices dinner unless it’s bad. Nobody notices the laundry until nothing is clean. Nobody ever says thank you. It makes me crazy. How can I make them appreciate me more?

– Weary in Washington

Doesn’t everyone feel this way? We all give lip service to shared responsibilities — and honestly, every father I know of this generation does vastly more than the dads of our parents’ generation — but there’s still a ton of routine stuff that just becomes the responsibility of the mom. If I had a nickel for every time the Tiny Kitchen Assistant asked where his favorite shirt was, or every time someone asked me what’s for dinner, I probably wouldn’t have to work anymore.

After yet another evening where I struggled to come up with something edible for dinner (which I believe included the phrase, “Didn’t I just feed you yesterday?”), I decided to conduct a little experiment with my Tiny Kitchen Assistant. For three days, I asked him to pretend to be the mom and select what we would have for dinner.

I explained to him that there were multiple parts to the exercise:

  1. Decide what you want to eat
  2. Figure out if we have the ingredients
  3. Go to the store, if necessary
  4. Cook

Day one was easy: he picked pasta. I asked him to check the pantry for canned tomatoes and the pasta shape of his choosing. Then I told him that he needed to find a vegetable. He dug around in the crisper drawer until he found a cucumber. Done. He helped me put everything together and dinner was a success. He felt very proud about his accomplishment.

The next morning, at breakfast, I asked again. He looked confused. “But I just picked something yesterday!” Yes, I know. Welcome to my world. This time he looked in the fridge, chose pork tenderloin, a teriyaki sauce, brown rice and canned pineapple as his balanced meal. Again, he helped me cook dinner. This time, he concluded with, “Daddy, Mommy made me make dinner again.”

The third morning, at breakfast, I asked yet again. He started to grumble. “No! I don’t want to make dinner today.” Now you know how I feel, kiddo. I told him that if he didn’t pick something, we wouldn’t be able to eat. “But you┬ácan do the dinner picking,” he said. No, I explained. This is your job this week. “But I don’t want this job! I just want dinner to be ready for me when I’m hungry!” I told him that it didn’t work that way. He went to the pantry and tried to choose pasta again. I told him no, we can’t have pasta twice in one week. He grumbled, mumbled, and chose chicken, black beans and tortillas. He was much less excited when dinnertime rolled around.

On the fourth day, he asked if he needed to choose dinner again. I told him no, it was a three day experiment. He looked visibly relieved. “Wow, Mom. This is really hard. And you have to do this every day.” Victory for mommies everywhere.

How do you get your family to appreciate what you do?

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4 Responses

  1. misszippy1 says:

    LOVE this idea! I think you are on to something here…

  2. Alisa says:

    Thanks! I figured that a little bit of perspective couldn’t hurt my cause.

  3. Jason says:

    OMG, I *love* this. I gotta try this with Annabelle. Except that every. single. NIGHT. she wil choose vodka pasta.

  4. Alisa says:

    I actually think that he chose these things because he knew what went into them. He adores bolognese sauce and is always asking me to make it, but I think he knew that it had many ingredients and he didn’t even know where to begin.

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