Celebrate the (Really, Really) Small Victories


Let’s talk about mushrooms. And when I say “mushrooms,” what I mean is “motherhood, and the incomprehensible fact that someone is actually letting me be a parent and I haven’t gone to jail yet and maybe I’m not fucking up that badly after all.”

(Side note: don’t those mushrooms look delicious? They probably were, but I don’t know, because it’s not my picture and those aren’t my mushrooms. Photo credit: Lewis Suraz, Flickr Creative Commons)

So last night, I was cooking some mushrooms up for my daughter. She loves the way I sauté them in butter and then deglaze and simmer them in red wine. At least, she loved them the one and only time I made them, a really long time ago, so I was hoping to repeat the mushroom happiness last night. I was only partially successful.

You know how with little kids, if they refuse to eat something, you compare it to something they like? Such as: “Come on, taste the tuna. It tastes just like chicken.” Or, “When you dip the artichoke leaves in melted butter, it’s like eating a baked potato.” Or the old standby: “Try these mushrooms. They taste just like candy!” Wait, you’ve never heard that last one before? That’s because it’s a fucking ridiculous thing to say. And I actually said it.

Mind you, I did not say this to a four-year-old. I said it to a 15-year-old boy who is smack in the middle of a growth spurt and who wants to eat nothing but hamburgers, crispy chicken fingers, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and occasionally canned peaches straight from the can (no fork or spoon needed, thank you very much).

You see the problem. The conversation with a four-year-old wouldn’t necessarily be so bad. It might go like this:

Child: I hate mushrooms.
Mom: Try them. They taste just like candy.
Child [spitting them out]: These aren’t candy! These are yucky!
Mom: We don’t say they’re yucky. If you don’t like them, we say, “I don’t care for any, thank you.”
Child: I don’t care for any, thank you. They’re yucky.

Here’s how the same conversation goes with a 15-year-old:

Child: Oh my God! What is that smell? It smells awful. Mom, what is that?
Mom: Mushrooms. Try them. They taste just like candy.
Child [opening door, staggering outside for air]: We’re talking about mushrooms, right? I know you didn’t just say they taste like candy.
Mom: I did. And they do. They’re sweet.
Child [stepping back inside]: Mom, I literally just threw up.
Mom: Oh please, give me a break. You literally did not.
Child: I literally did. Do you want to see?
Mom: Of course I don’t want to see! Are you insane?
Child: I’m just saying…
Mom: So would you like to try them? They taste like candy.
Child: That’s absolutely the single most ridiculous thing you’ve ever said.
Mom: Just one bite.
Child: No, thank you. They’re yucky.

You see where I’m headed with this, right? Exactly: he said thank you! (Victory #1) Your job is done. Go have a glass of wine.

Hey, and also? You cooked a vegetable. You are absolutely nailing this motherhood thing! (Victory #2). Go have a glass of wine.

You know what else? When the 15-year-old man-boy later flops down next to you on the couch at the end of the day like an oversized puppy (like he did when he was four), and collapses across your lap for a snuggle (like he did when he was four), knocking your book to the floor and upsetting the dog (like he did when he was four) – he’s so much less sticky than he was back then. He washes his own hands and face. (Victory #3) Go have a glass of wine.

Join me in looking for the little victories – which, taken together, may not be so little after all – and have fun til next time!

PS: This post was originally about The Terminator. See what happens when you edit, kids?


PPS: Look, I kept this post under 650 words. Victory #4! But don’t go have a glass of wine. Or at least, don’t have one with me, because I’d be under the table, people. Show of hands: who became a total light-weight with middle age? I actually didn’t even have a glass of wine as suggested above which means, if you did, you’re drinking alone. You might want to keep an eye on that.

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