Are You a “Real” Mom?

Reynolds Ad

OK. I can’t let it go. Both Sarah & Jane have been talking about motherhood for the past two posts, and I was going to move on to a different topic, but I just can’t do it. I can’t do it because there’s a larger issue here..and it’s not just about women.

I often wonder what it means to be a woman. If I’m not a mom, am I still a woman? Women who have lost their breasts, their ovaries, and other parts of the female anatomy–are they still women?

Biologists would argue that two x chromosomes create a female human, and a woman is simply an adult human female, but women know that is not enough of a definition. What about people who were physically born as men but feel that they are women? What makes them women? Are they “real” women?

On the same vein…I think of motherhood. Motherhood is easier to define. (Or is it? I’ll let the mothers hash that out…) For me, I can safely say that I am not a mom. I have no children, but I am sympathetic to the challenges of motherhood and sensitive to how women are portrayed.

This weekend, I was watching one of my favorite cooking channels and a commercial interrupted my program with some pie-baking tips. Normally, I skip the commercials, but I like pie and I like to bake, so I kept it on. Little did I know it would make me angry. The narrator of the commercial stated, “Real moms know how to make it perfect every time.” “It” referred to pie crust. So, basically, the ad stated that real moms make perfect pie crust “every time.”

What exactly is a “real mom”? Is there such thing as a “fake mom”? I suppose if I pretended to be a mom to one of my 23 nieces or nephews, that would make me a fake mom. But what about moms who don’t make the “perfect” pie crust? Are they fake moms? This commercial seems to imply that moms who can’t make perfect pie crusts “every time” are not “real moms.” So, what about my mom? Is she a “real mom”?

I grew up in a dairy-free household. My mom is allergic to dairy products and cannot stand the smell or sight of butter. Despite this, my mom is an excellent cook, and I grew up eating her dairy-free homemade pies, cookies, and other scrumptious meals. However, and I’m sorry mom, but I do not particularly like her pie crusts. I have discovered from making my own pies that butter makes all the difference.

This commercial did show the woman (Emily Lyon–“Reynolds Real Mom”) using butter, so that implies that the “perfect” pie crust contains butter, but since my mom did not use butter, and sometimes even burnt her pie crusts, does that mean she isn’t a “real mom”? Of course not!

I recognize this as hyperbole, but still, words matter–just ask Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D. Phrases like this get into our psyches and affect our attitudes. They pick at our over-crowded to-do-listed brain and undermine our self-worth–much like subtle images.

Of course, women are not the only ones being pressured to be “real.” There are plenty of YouTube videos and books about being “real men.” It doesn’t make it better, though…it makes it worse.

We put enough pressure on ourselves to be “perfect” or “real.” We don’t need to add to the pressure. Instead, we need to give each other a break. We need to accept our own and each others’ flaws and be kind. We need to be careful of the words we use because words really do matter.

~ K

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Summer Pasta Recipe

I wouldn’t call myself a “foodie,” but I do like to cook. However, there are days I have nothing planned and have no idea what to do for dinner. On these days, I borrow a move from one of my favorite cooking shows: Chopped on the Food Network. I simply open the fridge and pantry, gather some ingredients, and put together something that I think will go well together.

For a hot, Tuesday evening, this presents more of a challenge because I do not want to use the oven, nor do I want to go out in the heat to the store. In addition, I want the meal to be healthy and tasty. Tonight, I quite surprised myself with a delicious summer pasta dish without much planning or a trip to the store.

I had the following ingredients:

 1 cucumber

Mixed salad greens

4 Radishes

1 eggplant

1 green pepper

4 Roma tomatoes

Fresh Spinach

Garlic in a tube

Parmesan cheese

Whole Wheat Pasta (this is a staple in our house)

Fresh herbs from my garden (dried herbs work, too)

This seemed pretty obvious to me: pasta night with a mixed salad.

Here’s how to make my version of pasta primavera:

  1. Set the water to boil for the pasta (I add a little salt & olive oil. My favorite pasta is Ronzoni Healthy Harvest).
  2. In a skillet, cover the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil (I use Pam Olive Oil).
  3. Chop the green pepper & eggplant into bite-sized cubes & add to the heated skillet.
  4. Chop the tomatoes and set aside (some people like to remove the tomato seeds, but I like to use the entire fruit).
  5. Stir the vegetables so they don’t burn, and add the pasta to the water when boiling.
  6. Cook the vegetables until they have a little bit of color; then add some garlic. You can use fresh garlic, but all I had was in a tube. (A friend of mine turned me on to the Gourmet Garden brand of finely chopped herbs in a plastic tube. This has been a lifesaver for me on many occasions. I keep ginger, garlic, and basil on hand at all times. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it.)
  7. Add the fresh spinach and cook until the spinach is just wilting. Remove from the heat.
  8. By now, the pasta should be done, so drain it and put it back in the pan.
  9. Here’s the important part: add a touch of extra virgin olive oil to the pasta so it won’t stick together.
  10. Then add the cooked vegetables to the pasta with the cut tomatoes. Reserve some of the tomatoes for the salad.
  11. Serve with fresh parmesan cheese and fresh cut herbs from the garden (I used basil, oregano, & thyme).

According to My Fitness Pal.com, this is the nutritional information for the pasta dish:

The cucumber and radishes went into the salad greens with some sunflower seeds I found tucked in the back of the pantry. If I had planned this dish, I would add mushrooms and zucchini and omit the eggplant. I rarely use eggplant; it just happened that I had some left over from making eggplant lasagna last week.

You don’t have to follow my recipe exactly. With a little creativity and some basic ingredients, you can do the same thing: mix together some vegetables with some pasta or rice, or even potatoes, and you have a healthy, vegetarian meal without much hassle. Try canned or frozen vegetables if you don’t have fresh, and if you have some pasta sauce, you can add that to the mix.

Enjoy!

~K