Before I had children, I read a quote from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis that said, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think anything else you do well matters very much.” When I read that, not yet a mom but was hoping to be one someday, it resonated with me. I had never seen the complex concept of “having it all” and prioritizing family articulated so succinctly.
Since then, and potentially due in part to it, I have read many books on different parenting styles and philosophies. I take motherhood very seriously, and I know my instincts will only carry me so far. If there’s anything I’ve learned from all of this “research,” it’s that I’ve yet to find one approach to which I can wholeheartedly subscribe.
A pinch of this
I read The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D. and I recall that there are five “S’s” when trying to soothe a baby. If someone promised me a new car I don’t think I could name all 5. I only know “shhh” and “swaddle” because that’s what worked for my kids. Then I read Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. It’s a book about the Parisian style of parenting from the perspective of an American woman. While it’s a fascinating read, the thing I remember most about that book is not to worry if my kids want to keep their pacifiers longer than Americans usually deem appropriate.
Most recently, I read Jo Frost’s Toddler Rules. The best nugget of information I ascertained from that book is that not all tantrums are created equal. As a mom, I need to think about what’s motivating/causing the behavior and adjust my reaction accordingly. Even as I nurture a reading culture, I don’t parent with one well-worn parenting book in my diaper bag full of highlighter marks and sticky tabs. I read many different books, absorb what I know will benefit my family, and carry on.
A dash of that
So, here’s where the cooking channel comes in. I once watched an episode of Barefoot Contessa where host Ina Garten demonstrated how to host an elaborate dinner party. Everything from setting the table to purchasing locally grown, organically sourced ingredients, the whole bit. I watched and absorbed about 10% of what I saw.
Not because I’m disinterested or a terrible study, but because I already know there are no docks nearby from which to source fresh seafood, my husband hates the taste of anything citrus, and my kids won’t eat pesto because of the “green stuff.” The 10% I absorbed were cooking strategies or flavor pairings I know I can incorporate into meals that work for my family. I learned how to make a roux with butter and flour, the importance of using wine I’d actually drink when cooking, and that the meat should rest before carving. There, time well spent.
While browsing television shows before bed, I may select a Rachel Ray show to get tips on quick weekday meals, or I may pop into Martha Stewart if I am looking for inspiration for date-night-in meals with my husband. I’m never going to recreate an entire episode of any of these shows in my kitchen, and that’s okay. I’ll take what I need and hope for the best.