What’s going to happen this week is this: I’m going to write about one central idea (and that idea, just so you’ll know what’s what up front, is parenting), and I’m going to end each post with some cooking notes that are not entirely unrelated to parenting. And I’m going to write some of these posts on a tiny screen, so there may be very hilarious typos – like, more typos than usual. Cool?
Also: I’m going to use this week to decide whether or not I’m brave enough to write a NaNoWiMo novel first draft in serial form, right here. Crazy, I know. It would be a pretty serious departure, right? But I am a little crazy, so why not go whole hog, as we say in the South. Honest to God, we’ve survived (if we’re lucky) many months in a row of just batshit crazy life, so why not add in some non-lethal crazy, right?
But before that (which will start November 1, if it starts), we’ll spend a week (ish) on the parenting stuff. Here goes:
Parenting is work.
What I mean here is not simply that parenting is hard or that parenting requires effort. What I mean is that parenting is work, just as, say, being an accountant is work. It’s work that requires, if it’s to be done well, some training, some mentoring, some peer support, and — this most of all — some time to do the work. Children cannot raise themselves; they need adults to nurture, support, teach, love, and raise them. They need parents.
But the United States lags other developed nations in recognizing parenting as work. We lag other developed nations in paid parental leave policies, child care subsidies, and other tangible demonstrations that acknowledge parenting as valuable work. (See, for starters: McKinsey, The case for paid parental leave; Pew Research, Of 41 countries, on U.S. lacks paid parental leave; Washington Post, America once let the push for parental rights. Now it lags behind; NYTimes, Why the U.S. has long resisted universal child care; Harvard Business Review, Two New Moms Return to Work, One in Seattle, One in Stockholm)
At the same time, we wring our hands over “school failings” and juvenile crime. We expect teachers to do more, do better. We expect social service networks to do more, do better. And we expect parents making minimum wage, working in rigid environments to somehow pull magic from thin air when it comes to raising and nurturing their young.
Parenting is work, and it’s not “women’s work,” but human work. Raising the next generation of bankers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, teachers, scientists, artists, writers, chefs, actors, doctors, and more requires parenting.
Until we, collectively, accept and honor that work, we’re going to be less, collectively, than we would otherwise become.
Perhaps you’re wondering to yourself: Is it fair for people who chose to have and raise children to get special accommodations for parenting?
Glad you asked. My answer is, “Yes.” And my rationale is that people who have parents (that’s all of us) should also get the same, or similar, accommodations when we need to care for the humans who raised us.
That’s where we’ll start tomorrow.
Spicy topic? I sure as hell hope so. Time to get all riled up over this one, I’d say. Let’s do it.
Maybe let’s do it on full stomachs, so we won’t be cranky?
Food is Good.
My daughter, the picky eater, asked what was for dinner tonight. In response I asked what she would like to eat for dinner. And that question led to an exchange that I won’t recount play by play. The upshot is that she would like to branch out and eat a more varied array of foods, but she doesn’t know what to ask for. So I’ve been cooking bland food, because she’s picky, and what she wants to break free from is a bland diet.
“Cook what you want, Mom,” she said. “Go for it. If it don’t like it, I’ll make myself some cheesy noodles.”
So, I didn’t go crazy, but I went for it; and I made:
Pan fried salmon (honestly, this was to avoid the whole “I’ll cook some cheesy noodles” thing, because I know she likes salmon)
Palestinian cucumber salad (I did not use a recipe, but the one linked is close to what I did)
Lemon-roasted potatoes with Kalamata olives (this was the adventure of the evening)
AND SHE ATE ALL OF IT, except for the olives, because she said she does not like olives. But I’m going to tell you that those potatoes tasted 100% like olives, because that was the point of the recipe. Baby steps, that’s what I say.
Some notes about those potatoes, since it was a new recipe that I’d never made before:
I prepared the dish as written in the recipe, with the exception of the parsley (I used twice as much and chopped it roughly, leaving full or almost full leaves throughout).
I was expecting the potato wedges to have crisp, golden exteriors and soft, mushy interiors. I was expecting the garlic to be fragrant and sweet, but not overpowering. I was not expecting much, if any, remaining liquid in the baking dish. The result did not meet any of these expectations. The potatoes were good, don’t get me wrong; but the dish, in my kitchen, needed (needs) tweaking.
When I make them again, which I plan to do, I’ll parboil the potatoes and add the garlic halfway through cooking, as describe in this Food & Wine recipe (but I’ll add the olives at the beginning, as in the Food52 recipe, and I’ll also keep the lemon juice).
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