I have no reservations—pun intended—about being a mother who openly admits she can’t cook. This is entirely because I don’t want to cook. I have no interest in cooking. I have no interest in even learning how to make a meal. A homemade dinner, in my opinion, is not mutually exclusive to being a good mother. Obviously. My children are happy and healthy (and alive) and they don’t arrive at school with dirty faces or hungry bellies.
There are three staples I can proudly admit that I make pretty well (if my mind doesn’t wander from boredom). This list (anything more than two things can be considered a ‘list’ right?’) includes scrambled eggs, french toast, and grilled cheese, all of which I can make in under five minutes, with barely any clean up. But my daughter still thinks that me making a grilled cheese sandwich for her is akin to winning a prize; that’s how often I do it.
I don’t get the appeal of cooking. ‘Just follow the recipe! It’s simple!’ says my friend, who has four children she cooks for every night. She’s even threatened to kidnap me, drag me to the grocery store and then teach me how to make Lemon Chicken. She’s been threatening to do this for 22 years and I still don’t know how to make it.
‘It’s the easiest meal and you should at least know how to make a chicken.’ she rants.
To which, of course, I respond, ‘If it’s so easy, why don’t you make me one then and I’ll come pick it up?’ Because you know what’s also easy? Picking up a ready-made rotisserie chicken from any damn grocery store! With so many ready-to-eat meals available, there really is no need to learn to cook.
When I do look at recipes, my mind turns into a broken navigation system, where I’m trying to figure out which way is west (or am I going south?), because I understand reading maps just as well as I do reading recipes. Which is not well at all.
I was amazed when I Googled, ‘Moms who don’t cook,’ expecting to find a study that suggests that actually cooking dinner for your children is harmful. No such luck there.
One article, however, did pop up with the headline, ‘Seven Healthy Dinner Hacks for the Mom Who Doesn’t Cook.’ I didn’t even bother to open it because, healthy dinner or not, I’m still not cooking. Same with the headline, ‘Easy Recipes for Moms Who Don’t Cook.’ Sigh. Again, I do not care how easy the recipe is, I still have no interest in cooking.
As the school rush begins again on Monday, many parents are getting ready to have conversations with themselves like, ‘What the heck am I going to make for dinner for the kids after work today?’ Children have to eat every day, three times a day! It’s never-ending.
I was shocked at how many of the mothers around the office (keep in mind, this is a parenting website) turned their noses up in disdain when I asked if they cook dinner. ‘No, I hate it. I’m just bad at it,” said one. The same holds true for me. I am good at many things, but I am not good with anything kitchen or cooking related.
It’s a damn good thing I wasn’t a parent in the 1950s. I’d be shunned. I don’t think I even own an apron. I, too am just bad at cooking. Even when I try to make toast (TOAST! I CAN MAKE TOAST!) I forget I’ve put it in there, until I smell something burning (okay, scratch that last part…)
Then I read a piece that made me want to cook even less. ‘When I meet a woman who doesn’t know how to cook, I can’t help but think that somewhere along the line, someone, probably her mother, f****d up.’ this woman wrote. Seriously?
She continues, ‘As women and mothers, we carry babies in our bodies, we feed our babies with our bodies, and later we feed our families. What type of mother world send their daughters into the world not knowing the basic skills needed to feed themselves?’
Trust me, like many women, we blame our mothers for plenty of things, but the last thing I’d ever blame my mother for is the fact she ‘sent me in the world, not knowing the basic skills needed to feed’ myself. I’m 43, and not once have I moaned to my therapist, ‘Oh, I just wish my mother had taught me how to make lemon chicken or a tuna casserole. Because then all my other adult issues would go away!’ I have also never gone hungry, because, as a non-cooking mother, you always have fruits or yogurt drinks or cheese and crackers or cereal on hand.
My mother always had dinner for us, save for the very odd time when she was too tired after work and would simply point at the cereal closet and say, ‘Dinner. In there!’
So, how exactly do we eat? Well, like many men these days, my partner picks up the slack. He likes to cook, and loves trying new dishes, even after a long day at work. He’s really very good at it, so, of course, I encourage him to cook as much as possible. We also have an organic food delivery service, which delivers meals for the entire week, with all the ingredients and the recipes to make dinner for four. This may sound costly, but it’s surprisingly economical, compared to how much groceries generally cost these days.
But am I doing my daughter a disservice not teaching her to cook? Maybe. Will she starve because her mommy didn’t cook? Never. Her father cooks with her. My parents cook with her. And, unlike most parents, peppered with the question, ‘What’s for dinner,’ my kids know not to ask me (unless they want to order in, and then I know exactly what drawer to send them to). Sure, I have no idea where I keep breadboards or casserole dishes, but I do know two things. How to pick up or order take out, and how to make reservations. I think I’m sending her out to the world with street smarts. And, hey, if she does get that gene I’m missing—the one where she doesn’t mind cooking for 45 minutes, only to watch people eat that meal in under two minutes and then deal with the dirty dishes—well, lucky me!
Or maybe, just maybe, she’ll be telling her shrink one day what an awful mother I was.