Why parenthood is like being a short order cook

originally posted 3/21/2012 –
I’ve seen the most inspiring thing, it’s something I think we can all try to emulate. Today, I saw the most amazing woman perform a complicated task under extreme pressure. My office building has a cafeteria of sorts. Not like the high school cafeteria you might be shuddering over, but more a gourmet cafeteria. Breakfasts consist of made-to-order omelette or eggs cooked the way you like (scrambled please) or even a pancake or two. Now imagine, if you can, the morning rush at 8am, when people are bolting from their car/bike/bus/train to their desks, stopping for breakfast on the way. Whoa! That’s allotta people, you might think. And I did.

Coffee before 9am is 25cents, including all the creme and sugar you can hold, refills are free. Normally, I hit the coffee when I arrive, when they open, at 7am. But, today I was running a little late. I saw a line of about 20 people waiting for their breakfast order, and I saw one lady working the grill and three, yes THREE, frying pans. She was awesome! Taking and remembering orders: sunny side up, hash brown no bacon, or omelette with ham, cheddar cheese and mushroom 2 slices of soft bacon. You name it, she was all over it. At one point, she had 2 orders on the griddle and 2 omelettes in the fry pans. AMAZING!!

Why do I mention this? Because I think this type of work should be required before you decide to have kids. This gives you a brief glimpse of the hard work involved in raising a quality human. Whether you are lucky enough to stay at home with your littles, or lucky enough to go to work, balancing the needs of your outside obligations, familial obligations, keeping the littles engaged and entertained while figuring out whose gonna clean the toilets is a time consuming job and not for the feint of heart. Parenthood also sounds a lot like this cooks job, but I imagine a live fire combat situation might run a close second…have you ever has to re-dress a screaming toddler after a poopy diaper explodes, while older kids are running around breaking things? My husband has, and I’m sure he prefers combat. It’s hard work, people don’t always tell a parent that. Pinterest is full of cute, yet deceptive baby images.

Imagine a stay at home parent, trying to figure out how to keep the child engaged and learning but hanging into your own sanity by a thread. Only a special breed can sit and demonstrate how to write the letter ‘A is for Apple’ so many times before wanting to stick their head in the electric oven, next to the fish sticks.

Then, imagine a parent who works outside the home. That parent, stressed by deadlines at the office has to rush home or to daycare with just enough time to brush teeth, read stories, kiss faces and tuck into bed. Lamenting the missed quality time with their kids and often working after bedtime.

Neither situation is ideal, and a balance must be maintained. (insert self mantra here) Eventually, the breakfast rush will be over, the child will learn how to write an A, and the work deadline will pass. But those pressures are quickly replaced by a lunch rush, the letter ‘B’ and a new project with a new deadline.

Don’t despair, enjoy the quiet time. Like Erika in the lunchroom, talk with your kids (customers), engage. Go to the park or the zoo or come up with a special thing that you like to share. (My boys and I like to dance around the house to music, or make our own music with an ear piercing assortment of keyboard, drum, train whistle or tamborine) Customers will leave and little boys/girls grow up. Make sure you bring excellence to the table with everything, teaching the ABC’s and filling your downtime. Your kids might not enjoy the ‘work’, but when foundations are laid well, the downtime is easier to enjoy. And THAT, the special time you take to learn about the person who is your child, THAT time they will remember forever!


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