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Thursday, February 4, 2010


Like many kids, I knew I would be a better parent than my own.

Like many parents, I now recognize my own hubris foolishness.

I was especially critical of my mother, certain that I could do everything she did, and more.  And I would do it better, as well.

Well, I might do some things better, but not everything.

And some things I do not manage at all.

Growing up, my mother always prepared dinner for us.  She might prepare/serve it hours later than anybody else, but she did it, every night.  She always served a protein, vegetable and carbohydrate.  And we always ate together. 

We ate what she put on he table.  If we did not like it, tough.  There were no substitutes. 

Eat or don't eat -- our choice.

I hated that.

So, I did things differently.

Now, everyone complains: "I don't like this; I hate that."

We can have a fridge full of food and my kids will complain "there is nothing to eat."

Last night, one of my kids complained, "you don't take care of us the way you used to."

I was never great at the food-thing.  I hate cooking.  It's harder now.  I cook less.

I get help.  Friends cook for us two times a week.  (At least, in theory.) 

Yet, food always seems to be an issue.

There never seems to be enough of the "yummy" food.

When my daughter sighed, and said, "you always used to make us pasta, with olive oil and spices...," I suggested that she make it herself.  It is easy to do and takes 15 minutes. (Why else would I make it so often?)

The very idea upset her.

I began to wonder if there are other issues at play.

How much of my children's complaints are really about food, and how much are they about needing to be nurtured?

Perhaps, under the surface, there is also an element of fear: "Why isn't Ima taking care of us the way she used to?" 

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Liba said...


That is one is hard to laugh over.

It is hard. Really hard.

Our want to nurture and their need to be nurtured are so strong, but our energy so low.

Can your daughter make the pasta and you do your magical mommy oiling and spicing work? It works for salad and salad dressing in my house.

They are sure no one can season a salad like I can. They have even brought all of the spices/dressing ingredients to the table when I wasn't up to going to the kitchen instead of reverting to premade dressing.

My kids won't even try soup if someone else made it, unless I reheat it in a real pot instead of a plastic container and they can pretend it was mommy made. They have even gone as far as calling my heating efforts "makeh bpatish" if they know that was all I did, and enjoying their soup.

The problem is I am left with the dirty pot. ;)

Food is a lot more than what fills our stomachs, especially for our kids. It is hard when we are only barely up for the tummy filling.

On mornings when I am feeling up for it and I make them "toast" for aruchat esser they act like I built the world. It doesn't happen often but they appreciate it more than most people appreciate a gourmet meal.

Food is primal way of nurturing and a tangible proof that we are still there for them.

I wonder if there is a way to get your spice back into their food without doing more than you are up to.

Love and laughter even though it isn't a laughing matter,


Unknown said...

a few suggestions

1) use a crockpot, there are tons of good recipes that allow you to dump stuff in, and hours later the house smells good and dinner is ready.

2) can you enlist your kids, one at a time, to be your assistant. Let them do the bulk of the labor, and you do the seasoning etc. They might like this as it would give them some alone-time with you

3) make a weekly menu with your kids and get them to help with some of the prep work the night before. For example, if they like vegetable soup, let them help clean and chop the veggies the night before, and then you just need to dump them in the pot.

Hope this helps

Liba said...

Crockpot liner bags are sold at Big Deal and make crock pot cleaning much easier.

Disposable pans/dishes can also be a lifesaver.

Liba said...

My other thought,do you need more meals delivered? There are organizations that would happy step up and do that and you could just add a bit of mommy love when you heat them up.

Please let me know if that would be a help and I will work on getting you taken care of.

Anonymous said...

My dear RivkA,

Reading the above posts makes me realise, once again, how many people love you. I hope it makes you feel that way too. Realise that every single mother has the same problem at time and feels the same way. Even those of us who have no health problems and are not paid for their work (i.e. are full-time mommies). Give yourself a pat on the back for all the amazing things you do, and try not to be so hard on yourself about the things which you either can't do or which your children feel you aren't doing.

Lots of love and hugs,


Anonymous said...

PS. And take advantage of the above-posted offers of help!


mikimi said...

as a single woman living on my own, I can sort of relate to wanting to be nourished and nurtured as well as you difficulty in being able to cook even on a good day.
I agree with izzy's suggestions. trying to find out what they want and you "cooking" with them might be a compromise for all involved.

Anonymous said...

my kids were thrilled this week when i changed routine and made them their sandwiches (a "perk" i was able to implement easily for logistical reasons, while A's away on business. usually i'm not anywhere near the kitchen early enough to do that).
but they manage just fine when they do it on their own, though with the occasional complaint "but my friends' mothers all make their sandwiches/[do whatever it is which i want you to do that you're not doing]".

and yet, recently one of my daughters realised that there were girls in her class who also make their own sandwiches, as well as a couple whose mothers still do it for them, and she told me that she was PROUD to be able to tell them that 'of course she makes her own'.

so maybe the "perk" was appreciated, but it's unlikely that it would be if it was routine.

on the other hand - if i don't make chicken soup w homemade matzo balls on friday night, i'll be sure to hear about it from my complaints department. i guess there can be a "special something" that children identify as that thing you do especially for them because they like it. food is an obvious 'thing', but i'm willing to bet it doesn't have to be that if that doesn't work for you.
btw- i find having to scrub and peel a pile of veg (or worse- getting my kids to do it) is a big pain in the pot...

anyway, it's natural that the ways in which we nurture our children change over the years, regardless.

big hug
BW :^>

ps- i thought it funny that the word verification here looks like "hug shed" :-)

Stephanie said...

Believe me..I have 3 kids and many nieces and nephews.all being nurtured and this complaint of your kids is soooo typical..There's just no pleasing them!!! They think that our kitchens are restaurants..well i tell t hem there is only one meal on the menu! And yes...we never have any food in the house..when i ask what would they like to see...they have no idea!! Kids major in guilt:) Their time will come and their kids will give them the same lines...Its universal

Anonymous said...

I struggle with this too. But I've noticed that sometimes when due to our lack of time or energy we are unable to do everything we would like for our kids, it has a positive result in that it forces them to become more independent.

There were times when due to work obligations I was not so available for my kids, and they really rose to the occassion and took on duties they never would have otherwise.

Now that I work from home I have more time to dote on everyone and I feel it has some harmful effects in that they are sometimes too dependent on me for things they can and should be doing themselves.


Anonymous said...


Bear in mind that you've been away. Kids who cope fine when you're gone often "react" when you come back and need more nurturing to make up for lost time. Give it a week or two.


Anonymous said...

A very serious post...gets to the heart of what we think our role as mother / ema is all about. I identify with the situation. We (growing up) also always had nutritionally balanced dinners together every night and ate what was served and enjoyed it. That is not the situation now with my own kids...

I agree with Liba's comments about (a) minimizing work by using disposable and getting more help and (b) finding ways to work mommy-magic without over extending yourself physically.

Another important thing I know I need to do sometimes--and would guess many other moms do, too, regardless of whether we are dealing with cancer or whatever else--is to get over feeling bad for our kids. When inside we pity them, they feel it, and it makes it harder for them to develop the strength and independence they need.

If Mom has to rest because she is fighting disease, or, lehavdil, just had a baby, or if there is not enough money for something, or whatever, we can be brave and say: this is who we are and what we need right now and let's think together what to do next. For example: would you like (as in Liba's suggestion) to learn to make pasta, and I'll season it for you the special way you like?

Those times might also be an opportunity for further conversation about why Mom is resting. Just because we've discussed it many times before doesn't mean our kids might not have a new question, or that their feelings about the situation may require some further expression.

Encouraging independence in our kids can be scary. What if they discover they don't need me to feed them anymore? How will I feel then? What other things will they stop needing me for?

The challenge for me is to know that, as wonderful and magical as feeding them can be, raising kids who are resilient and capable is even better.

Behazlacha :-)

Batya said...

Darling, I'm older and did for my kids like my mother and yours. "If you don't like it starve."

I couldn't understand how my sil would cook different foods for everyone.

You can't spoil them. divide the week and let them take more responsibility. You don't need issues about food.

And welcome all help.

Anonymous said...

daer rifka,i get the same crap,they look at cooking meals as nurturing,it also never ends,my 23 and 26 year old have the same shtik,they are married and run their own homes but if eema can please make me somthing,it tastes different when you make it eema,even if its a sandwich,kids look at food prep,and cooking,as expressions of being nurtured and coddeled,dont let them get to you,they are capable of doing for themselves,they just want you to do it for them to show,them that your mommy and nothing has changed,but circumstances change ,you cant do what you used to and thats the part they have a hard time accepting,weve also spoiled them cause our moms said you dont like,dont eat,and didnt do a dance around us,my moms line was you can eat cereal,that i never ate in my life,at least my kids will do that if they dont like the food,but to end all my ramble,ey are doing what kids do best,make you feel guilty,g.o.i,nextp.s.let me know if i can send somthing yummy

Noa said...

Two things. I just saw this post now, but on Thursday evening I made a batch of fresh muffins, and ended up with 2 dozen (i made them half the size the recipe called for) and the first person I thought to share them with was you. But the weather was so bad I canceled my plan to drive them over. Now I feel really bad I didn't.

Second thing, when I started nursing school I mused over the hebrew word for nursing "סיעוד" and its relation to the word "סעודה" - a festive meal. And the conclusion I came to it that both provide a kind of nurturing (also related to "nursing" in english) So I think you're right that your kids realize the inherent value of the nurturing that cooking provides. You have two choices - sit down and explain it to your kids, or fake it...I'm perfectly willing to pitch in more often than I am currently being called upon to cook for you guys.

Hasya Ya'ara said...


I am writing you from my new blog. I think it will be easier to manage then Sunbonnet.

I miss hearing from you.

Anonymous said...

Nice seeing your blog mentioned in the Barnard alumnae magazine - my daughter spied it first & showed it to me.

Anonymous said...

This speaks to me - actually, it's very affirming. I wonder if we could somehow teach our kids to (ultimately) also be able nurture themselves by thinking with them re what makes them feel good re food/nurture and then making it cooperatively. One of my pickiest fell in love with pesto and it's become a great fallback w/whole gr. pasta. But I can't make it all the time. So he now knows that every week, at minimum, he has to pick and washe the leaves, chop garlic, and grate cheese. But I help make it happen, and its availability feels like a nurturing. However, this will last only as long as it does (why is that?)
I try to get myself nutured through what I make for them, too, since as so many posters mentioned, we all need that. I once went to a conference and almost fainted in the cafeteria from the experience of holding out my plate in the line and being served. So regressed... so basic.
It's such a challenge - take heart. It's not just you!
I'd like to find a middle ground between the 'tough luck - eat it' approach and the 'nursing' extreme. I agree with the many who said that some independence and some delayed / non gratification strengthens them. It's really about extremes: I am dust and ashes / the world was created for me; I am doing great and can relax/ I have to always be at my best and improve. The notes are in our pockets, and our body is the balance.
with blessing

RivkA with a capital A said...

Liba -- Two weeks ago, I made garlic bread from our left-over challah. The kids were so excited, it was better than chocolate cake! (Good thing, too, 'cause I don't bake!)

Btw, I asked my MIL to pick up crockpot liners the next time she is in Big Deal. Thanks for the suggestion!! I don't mind using real pans, 'cause I wash them in the dishwasher. If I make something I think will stick to the pan, I just line it with baking paper.

Izzy -- Your suggestions are really good. Just recently, I commented to a friend that I want to teach my kids to make soup in the crockpot! I also strive to cook together with them (with the real goal being that they do most of the work). I'm not organized enough for a weekly menu!

Na'amah -- I was actually amazed at how many mothers related to this post.

Naively, I thought just my kids are like this.... It's comforting to learn it's not all my fault!

Mikimi -- Yeah, I like the idea of cooking together. I just do not know if it is practical. Last week, my youngest daughter decided to cook dinner for the family! It was fun! (I plan to post about it...)

BW -- My kids also claim that they are the only ones who make their own lunches. It's nice to know that there are other moms out there whose kids make their own lunches too! I can't imagine my kids boasting about it.

Stephanie -- When the complainging gets to be too much, I tell my kids, "When you have kids, remember this. Then call me and apologize!"

SS -- There are things I demand from my kids that have nothing to do with my health limitations. I think kids should know how to do basic household chores/activities. These are life skills.

Chana -- Yes, but these complaints began LONG before I went away....

Anon -- I like the way you phrased Liba's suggestion: "would you like to learn to make pasta, and I'll season it for you...?"

After discussing some of these issues with my kids, I realize it's really not about me. It's just about food, and being really picky!

That's why encouraging them to accept ownership of their problems is so important.

Batya -- I don't think anyone would claim that my kids are "spoiled."

Anon (Loonytunes) -- I also told my kids they could always have a bowl of cereal. Then, the options expanded to include yoghurt or chumus with pita.

Somewhere along the way, between giving them choices and the fact that no one eats together because of everyone's crazy schedules, my kids got the idea that they should be able to eat "yummy food" all the time. And, by "yummy food," they mean shnitzels, hotdogs, hamburgers, and lasagna.

OK, so they will also eat chicken, rice, lentils, pasta, and any kind of soup. But we don't always have those things.

I taught them all how to make eggs. But now they complain that eggs "isn't real food."

My two youngest can also make pasta, but my eldest "can't."

There is also food in the freezer. Yet, they constantly complain that there is "no food."

Maybe I should feed them your line: G.O.I.

Noa -- Don't feel bad. Driving in that weather is definitely hazardous! But, I'll be waiting for your next batch! ;-)

I never made the connection between nursing and nurturing. That is definitely food for thought!

And I'd love it if you cook for us more often. You are an awesome cook!!! (...and I don't say that to everyone...)

Hasya Ya'ara -- I look forward to reading your new blog!

Tesyaa -- Wow, I have not yet seen the magazine. Now, I can't wait!

Ysara -- Your comment helped me clarify the issue for myself.

Instead of allowing the food issue to cause helplessness ("there is nothing to eat"), I need to find a positive way of teaching my kids to meet their own needs, and to empower them.