Mom’s Experiment

I cooked dinner last night. Too bad my oldest child had already done his science fair project—the remains of my culinary escapade would have made a great display. My darling hubby was sick, and wasn’t in the room during the ordeal—which makes me eternally grateful. He already has more kitchen stories against me than he can shake a spatula at.

Here’s how my little science experiment went:

Purpose: To cook dinner for the family.

Hypothesis: I will burn, break, or bandage something before the night is over.


  1. Defrost the meat, after throwing away some which had been in the freezer since the Clinton administration.
  2. Start the water for pasta, for once remembering to turn the burner on. Open a can of fruit cocktail (or as it’s called in the Dyer house, “nectar of the gods”) and chill it in the fridge. Place the chicken in the oven.
  3. While helping Jordan with his homework, forget that the water on the stove has changed from a rolling boil to a roiling bowl. Place the pasta in the pan just before the last few cups evaporate. Let the pasta cook and then drain it, setting pan aside and forgetting to turn off the burner.
  4. Take the chicken out of the oven and set it on the still-hot burner on top. After dishing up dinner, hear something sizzling and realize I’ve set the glass dish on the burner—and the last piece of chicken is still cooking. (At least that was the one piece that wasn’t really “done”!)
  5. Turn off the burner and put the dish in the sink; after turning on the oven fan (or as it’s called in the Dyer house, “the dinner bell”) to get rid of the smoke, pour cold water into the glass dish.
  6. After cutting Jordan’s chicken up, hear something exploding. Turn around to find the glass dish in a million tiny pieces. Then vaguely remember that “extreme cold and extreme heat don’t mix.” Redeem the meal by showing Jordan the remains of the now-famous  exploding glass dish, to which he replies, “That’s awesome!”

Result: While cleaning up the mess in the sink after dinner, I cut my hand. I have therefore broken a dish, burned a chicken, and bandaged a finger—all in one night.

I am culinary-challenged, to say the least. And sometimes, to be honest, it makes me feel like a less-than-stellar mommy. After all, what child doesn’t need a home-cooked goodie now and then to really feel their mother’s love, all the way down to their cute little toes?

But you know what I’ve realized (and finally made my peace with)? Cooking is not my thing—and that’s okay! I can do a lot of other things well, and my guys like slice-and-bake cookies as much as the homemade varieties. I know this because they’ve had the other kind at friends’ houses, and never once complained about mine. Either that, or they’re too sweet to say anything!

Sometimes we moms put so much pressure on ourselves—pressure that God never intended for us to feel. We look at the mom next door, or at the gym, and she seems more put-together, confident, and adept at multi-tasking than we’ll ever be. And we start to feel insecure and totally inferior. (The problem with that kind of reverse-naval-gazing is that the other mom is probably looking at you the same way. Pretty much every single mother has doubts about themselves.)

Add in the constant proliferation of information we’re subject to through ezines, newspapers, magazines, and television shows, and the simple answers the media gives us (“lose ten pounds in twenty minutes!” and “organize everything in your house today!”), and it’s no wonder we feel overwhelmed and under-qualified.

The truth is, God made us all unique, and our strengths (and weaknesses) are part of His design. Each of us does a few things pretty well, and we stink at the other stuff. There’s no one who’s good at everything. (Otherwise, why would we need each other—or God?)

And take it from me, ladies: if we try to do it all, we’ll be done in.

So here’s my “Resigned, yet Joyful in the Gifts I do Have” conclusion to the aforementioned experiment. For the Dyer family, it is not only wise, but physically safer, to have Pizza Hut, Olive Garden and Applebee’s on speed dial.

Because when it comes to cooking, there’s definitely a science to it.

©2008, Dena Dyer

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